Set to Carl Orff’s score, Carmina Burana was inspired by 13th-century poems and texts found at a German monastery. They were written by disenfranchised monks and students who shunned ecclesiastic pursuits, preferring instead earthly pleasures of sex, drink and gluttony (sex, drugs and rock & roll wouldn’t come for another seven centuries). The duality of the piece also highlights man’s undeterrable path toward his own fate and the ephemeral nature of life.
However, it’s up to viewers to draw their own conclusions. The ballet is an impressionistic account of the various songs’ lyrical content, moving through three major sections—”Spring,” “In the Tavern” and “In the Court of Love.” George Balanchine’s mid-20th century The Four Temperaments—an abstraction on medieval beliefs that human nature consists of four humors, which affect general temperament—rounds out the evening.