A unification of MSU’s arts in ‘Carmina Burana’

Tickets are flying off the shelves as Minnesota State’s music, dance and theater programs unite as one through the production of “Carmina Burana.”

As its season finale, three “Carmina” performances coordinated by the Department of Performing Arts run from April 25-27 in the Ted Paul Theatre. 

“You’re hearing the emotion, you’re seeing the emotion, dance in front of you, too; it’s so many departments and a whole orchestra,” MSU sophomore BFA musical theater candidate Landson Hudson said. “It’s not tracks, it’s not pre-recorded, you’re not watching it on the screen — it’s all right there.” 

Composed by Carl Orff, “Carmina Burana” involves a journey of 24 movements inspired by medieval poems. It pieces together emotional elements of love and pain as well as a lighthearted embracement of spring and drinking festivities. 

A transfer student from Kansas City, Missouri, Hudson was granted a part as a vocalist by music professor Nick Wayne. His part consists of three lines in the 12th movement, all in Latin and all sung in opera — a change of pace from his typical niche in theater. 

“It’s one thing when you do a whole show and you make a mistake, you have the whole show to prove yourself, but three lines, that’s it,” Hudson said. 

Using a slice of his acting abilities, Hudson will play the part of a living swan being roasted for a tavern of people. Although Hudson will sport a suit, typically the soloist wears a swan costume and is placed on a swivel over a fire. 

“They have this big dance about getting roasted alive, and it’s very ceremonial and medieval,” Hudson said. “And then at the end of the song they’re eating the swan.” 

While Hudson ties in his familiar process of play preparations, his part mainly focuses on his vocal abilities and how he presents them. 

“Rather than making a character, it’s more about making the emotion of the piece,” Hudson said. “With this song you can’t be very timid or shy, you have to be almost fearful,” Hudson said. 

Following this particularly dark moment, the mood will transition into lighter movements from spring into meadow, choreographed by MSU second-year graduate student and MFA dance candidate Joe Svihel. 

“My section is really about that joy, but also the resistance; hippies are kind of the rebellion of it all, but within that you’re finding your group, you’re finding your tribe,” Svihel said. 

With about 20 dancers in the piece, Svihel has encountered hurdles within scheduling conflicts and balancing the dancers’ many parts.

“The way I approach conversation is, ‘What do you need?’ rather than, ‘What can I give you?’” Svihel said. “I will have my thoughts. I will always have my thoughts, but, ‘What do you feel like you need to make you feel more successful?” 

His guidance has shown itself to be a success; after watching his dancers in collaboration with the alternative elements, Svihel admits, “it’s looking really great.” 

“It’s cool to see how the art goes through all these different worlds and characters, and choreographers and their expressions,” Svihel said. 

Svihel said he hopes audiences are inspired by the music and dance. 

“I hope that they leave thinking more deeply about their own life and how simple actions that they take can affect their course,” Svihel said.

Write to mercedes.kauphusman@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: Minnesota State’s music, theater and dance programs are combining forces in the performance of  “Carmina Burana.” Three shows will take place April 25-27. (Nathanael Tilahun/The Reporter)

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