Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi


As a surprise evening out to celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary (it was in June!) K had booked us tickets for dinner and the concert at Wyastone last night. Wyastone is a stately home and HQ to a classical music recording company in the very pretty Wye Valley five minutes drive from Monmouth. It’s a sort of less elitist Glyndebourne (although that may be uncharitable). In the summer there are various classical concerts, before which you may picnic next to the river or eat dinner in a pavilion outside the concert hall, then go on to the concert itself. During the interval you stand outstide sipping your G&T and enjoy the splendour of the warm summer evening and the lush scenery of the Wye Valley.

Last night’s concert was given by the BBC National Chorus of Wales. The highlight was a rollicking performance of Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. Based on the the poems of itinerant mediaeval German monks preoccupied with boozing and sex, it starts and finishes with an ode to the goddess Fortune who rules the world. I bet the surfer in the Old Spice ad from the seventies (which used this particlar bit) wasn’t aware of that as he negotiated that huge wave to its pounding strains. I had sung in this work when at St. Lawrence College Junior School when I was about 9 years old. Lucky I couldn’t understand the words, in mediaeval Latin and old low German and which include passages such as:

Mea mecum ludit
virginitas,
mea me detrudit
simplicitas.

Veni, domicella
cum gaudio
veni, veni, pulchra,
iam pereo.

My virginity
makes me frisky,
my simplicity
holds me back.
Come, my mistress,
with joy,
come, come, my pretty,
I am dying!

And no, I have not selected the rudest bit – there’s stronger stuff. No wonder our teachers were coy about the meaning of all that weird language we were singing so lustily.

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