The first time soprano Mary Wilson sang Carl Orff’s cantata “Carmina Burana” was in 2003 with dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet on stage moving to the music.
“It really affected how I see the piece,” Wilson explained by phone from Boston. “Now, whenever I sing the piece I feel movement in the vocal lines. I have a clear vision of people flirting and involved in courtship rituals with each other.”
Wilson is one of three guest soloists during the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus’ presentation of “Carmina Burana” next weekend at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
“Carmina Burana,” which was written between 1935 and 1936, is based on 24 of the poems found in the medieval German manuscript of the same name.
The poems selected cover a wide range of topics such as the fickleness of fortune and wealth, the ephemeral nature of life, the joy felt when spring returns and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust. “Carmina Burana’s” 1937 premiere was a huge success.
Since 2003, Wilson has been part of “Carmina Burana” performances around the country. She was the Santa Fe Symphony’s soprano soloist for “Carmina Burana” when the group presented the cantata in 2008.
“I love this piece,” said Wilson. “I always get excited when it’s programmed and I get called. The soprano part is virtuosic, covering two octaves.”
The symphony’s general director, Gregory Heltman, is thrilled that Wilson returns to sing with the orchestra.
“She’s amazing,” he said. “The last time she sang ‘Carmina Burana’ with us, during that last aria where the soprano sings so high as she gives herself up to love, you could have heard an eyelash drop in the Lensic.”
Wilson has appeared with many of the country’s major orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra.
An interpreter of Baroque repertoire, Wilson has appeared with Philharmonia Baroque, Musica Angelica, American Bach Soloists and Boston Baroque. She is on recordings with the American Bach Soloists and Boston Baroque to be released later this year.
Wilson, who calls Memphis, Tenn., home, also is a pianist with degrees in music performance from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
Sam Shepperson is the tenor soloist. A voice faculty lecturer at the University of New Mexico, Shepperson has appeared at the Santa Fe Opera and has sung with the UNM Opera Theatre.
The baritone soloist is Jeremy Kelly. A resident of Kentucky, Kelly has sung “Carmina Burana” with Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá and Greensboro Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina.
Also performing the cantata are the Santa Fe Symphony Chorus and Santa Fe Men’s Camerata.