lundi 16 novembre 2009

Carmina Burana and the Dahlia Lounge



Even if the words "Carmina Burana" mean nothing to you, you will be familiar with O Fortuna, the music that begins and ends Carl Orff's masterpiece, Carmina Burana. This is the best version of it I could find on the Internet -- having rejected the version with Michael Jackson visuals and the version with still photos of Hitler -- and was conducted by Seizi Ozawa. It is quite impressive. But Seattle's own symphony, with Gerard Schwarz holding la baguette and backed by its chorale and two guest ensembles, did a wonderful job.

So what is Carmina Burana exactly? And who is Carl Orff? Let's start with Orff who, as fate would have, it shares my birthday, July 10. But he was born in the late 19th century, in Munich. Orff's genius lies in taking a manuscript that was found in a medieval Benedictine monestary in Germany in 1803 and turning it into a complete work of art spectacle. One of the most amazing things about the manuscript is that it was not a religious document at all, but a collection of 12th and 13th century songs, many of them drinkings songs. Some of the songs mock the clergy, others are about love and lust. They were written in a mélange of Old French, Middle-High German and Latin, probably by a variety of "authors". I use the term "authors" tentatively because authors did not really exist at the time these songs were written down, and they probably were not written down by their creators. Moreover, the scribes who did actually write things down had a tendency to make changes. Setting aside this problem and getting back to Orff, he put them all together in a monumental show that is hard to resist. I'm not one for bucket lists of any kind, but if I were, seeing Carmina performed live would have been on the list. Now I can tick that one off and move on. I just wish my hubby could have come along. He was home watching reruns of Law & Order, under doctor's orders to stay in bed until the nasty swine-flu like thing had run its course. I made him a kick-ass vegetable soup with lentils and tomatoes and several grilled cheese sandwiches, and also bought a jug of Welch's grape juice, always useful in a medical emergency. He's doing much better.

He also missed Tom and Jackie Douglas's twentieth anniversary party for the Dahlia Lounge. Too bad for him! Dahli and I went and stuffed our little faces with amazingly delicious things. Dahli knocked back a few special cocktails, which had pomegranate in them, while I stuck to red wine. I was driving. We sampled blinis with succulent duck, plum sauce, pickled cucumbers and cilantro, miso with spinach and sesame seeds, salmon with roasted vegetables (I spied florets of caulflower), roasted figs with chunks of flagship cheese and delightful bread from the Dahlia Bakery, crab and fresh oysters.... Dessert consisted of beignets served in paper cones and miniature coconut cream pies (that's a Tom Douglas specialty). And how could I forget, speaking of paper cones, the servers walking around with paper cones filled with pommes frites and some kind of mustardy sauce. Delicious! We got gift bags too, and they contained Tom Douglas turkey rub, a bottle of red wine created for the anniversary and a calendar. Thank you, Dahli! Thank you, Tom and Jackie! After stuffing ourselves, Dahli and I went out into the rainy night in search of my car. We agreed it was near Blanchard, but that's about it. So we wandered around for awhile - 30 minutes or so - playing with various options. Well, one, which was to call my ailing hubby and have him come and pick us up. It was actually good to get out and walk after all that food. Tom prepared a special box just for Walt, who loves coconut cream pies more than baseball.