BY KATIE MATTESON
As founder and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, James Schatzman continually seeks out new and interesting ways to present choral literature by forming collaborative partnerships. Last season that meant “What’s Opera, Doc II?” served with Italian sweets and treats at Roma Lodge and this season began with a Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Trial by Jury” in the Racine City Hall Council Chambers.
A new collaboration will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 and 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 18 on the main stage at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside when CAS joins with The Studio of Classical Dance Arts and Our Musical Life children’s choir to present Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.”
Dance studio owners Linda Bennett and Marc Darling said Schatzman invited them to collaborate on the presentation of what he called “one of the most performed classical works of all time” after he attended the couple’s 12th annual production of “The Story of the Nutcracker” in December at Parkside.
Right after the holidays, the couple went to work choreographing the dance for 20 of their advanced students using a recording Schatzman provided of his choir’s performance of the piece back in 2003. They are also creating all the costuming, lighting and set design, including a 16-foot wheel of fortune suspended above the stage.
“Performing this work in the visually engaging way that Orff intended is something that has never been done in Racine or Kenosha and is rarely done in our area,” Schatzman said. “This opportunity should not be missed.”
Bennett said that this is the first time she and Darling have collaborated on a large production with live music.
“It will be amazing for the audience to experience the live interaction of an adult chorus of 67 singers plus three soloists, a 25-member children’s choir, 20 dancers, two pianos plus percussion,” Darling said.
Bennett explained that the dancers will use classical ballet with a more contemporary flair, which she termed a “modern-ballet fusion.”
She said the entire work will be performed in one act for an hour and 15 minutes.
“This music is raw and powerful,” Schatzman said. “It’s one of my favorite pieces to perform because of its ability to move performers and audiences alike.”
The audience will likely recognize the first and last movements, “O Fortuna,” as it’s been featured in movies and commercials.
Orff wrote his cantata in 1936, based on 24 poems selected from a medieval collection of 254 poems written mostly in the 11th and 12th century that was discovered in 1803 in a Benedictine monastery in Bavaria.
Bennett said that while the storyline of the music travels through life’s seasons using the Wheel of Fortune as a guide, the performance is not a literal journey.
“Although his music is modern it is not academic,” Schatzman said. “It appeals to our deeper emotions and this is what has made it a world famous classic!”
“The opportunity to work with a ballet company is a life’s dream,” Schatzman said. “Working with Marc and Linda has already been one of the most fulfilling projects I have ever done. I cannot wait for the performances.”
Reserved seating tickets are available choralartsonline.tix.com. For more information, visit choralartsonline.org or call (262) 634-3250.
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