The two one-act operas by Carl Orff (1895–1982), globally known for his cantata Carmina Burana, retell in the form of entertainment and epic folk theatre the respective fairy tales of the Grimm brothers. Die Kluge (The Wise Girl) is about a poor but shrewd peasant girl who can answer any riddle, outwits three swindlers and even wins the love of the king, while Der Mond (The Moon) is a story about foolish people who steal the Moon for themselves, until Saint Peter retrieves it and hangs it again in the sky, out of reach of their meddlesome hands.
Orff’s music is variegated, tender and wild, intimate and mightily symphonic, moving and forcible, inspired by all sorts of styles, ranging from hackneyed village songs and popular genres, through refined opera, to modernist, Minimalism-anticipating idiom. At the same time, it remains accessible and comprehensible even to those who do not regularly visit the opera.
Orff’s “theatrum mundi” encompasses acting, singing and speaking, it shows people scheming, gambling, boozing, swearing and loving, laughing and weeping. The sheer colourfulness, grotesqueness and wisdom of the Grimms’ fairy tales as rendered by Carl Orff can be primarily valued by older children and adults of all ages. The most recent production of Orff’s Die Kluge was staged at the National Theatre in Prague some 35 years ago, whereas Der Mond will be presented for the very first time.