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Masculine Redemption in Carl Orff’s Catulli Carmina (1943)
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-21, 03:53 authored by Jonathan WallisJonathan Wallis
This article argues that Carl Orff's Catulli Carmina - a five-movement cantata comprising a selection of Catullus' Latin poems framed by neo-Latin text written by Orff himself - occupies an ambiguous space within the cultural environment of National Socialism, especially in portraying ideals of contemporary masculinity. In its overt theatrical displays of male and female sexuality, Catulli Carmina invites association with the perceived 'decadence' of pre-war cabaret in France and Germany's Weimar Republic. Yet, through tendentious selection and ordering of the poems, Orff's cantata also 'corrects' Catullus' emblematic triviality and erotic abjection in an era which prized productive masculinity as a symbol of the good health of the nation. Orff's motivations in engaging with Roman culture were very different from Nazism's own fetishising of Greco-Roman antiquity, yet in this chapter Catullus provides a surprising case study for demonstrating how Orff's artistic values were often 'compatible' with those of the Nazi regime.
Department/SchoolSchool of Humanities
PublisherCambridge University Press
Place of publicationUK
Rights statement© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies