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February 7, 2020

It’s. A. Big. Song.

What do Carlton Draught, the Jackass crew, the Washington Redskins and Sean ‘Puffy/Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy/P. Diddy (again)/Sean John/Swag/Puff Daddy (redux)/Brother Love’ Combs have in common? A love for this early-20th century musical extravaganza.

In the 1930s, German Composer Carl Orff took a bunch of 13th century Latin poems and set them to music. Collectively known as Carmina Burana, it opens with one of the most recognisable pieces of music in contemporary times.


State Opera has dug into the source material and will perform Carmina Burana in full on Friday, 27 March at Memorial Drive Park.


A bombastic clash of choral tones that can make even the most mundane daily task seem epic, the piece is called O Fortuna, and if the name isn’t immediately familiar, here’s a refresher.

The year is 2005, round 19 of the AFL season, Carlton is playing Port Adelaide at the MCG, and amid the ad breaks, a choir storms through a New Zealand landscape, tripping over a wire fence, singing, to the tune of O Fortuna, about a very big ad for Carlton Draught.


The song is also strewn throughout hip hop; Nas and (the rapper FKA) Puff Daddy sampled the song in the ‘90s on ‘Hate Me Now,’ Meek Mill uses it on ‘On The Regular,’ and Kanye opens his Sunday Service concerts with it, replacing the Latin verses with “Jesus is King.”

In film and television, the pastiche of adolescent delinquency Jackass: The Movie begins with the cast rolling out to the tune; fans of Brooklyn Nine-Nine will recall the Halloween watch heist of season two, soundtracked by Detective Scully belting out his own rendition; and on the Chinese dating show If You Are The One, the song plays for unanimously rejected lonely hearts.

Sure, it was also popular with the Nazis (it was written in Germany in the 1930s after all) and the NFL’s Washington Redskins use it as their run-on music, but even with these unsavoury associations its godly grandiosity cannot be denied – and nothing beats the original.

For more information on State Opera’s performance of Carmina Burana, see the event page.

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