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Masculine Redemption in Carl Orff’s Catulli Carmina (1943)


Wallis, J, Masculine Redemption in Carl Orff's Catulli Carmina (1943), Antichthon, 55 pp. 155-171. ISSN 0066-4774 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies

DOI: doi:10.1017/ann.2021.9


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Orff, Catullus, opera, masculinity, National Socialism, classical reception, Latin
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Cultural studies
Research Field:Culture, representation and identity
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:Literature
UTAS Author:Wallis, J (Dr Jonathan Wallis)
ID Code:147592
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:History and Classics
Deposited On:2021-11-09
Last Modified:2022-11-01

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