C. Orff. Cantata “Trionfo di Afrodite“
“Trionfo di Afrodite”, a cantata written in 1951 by German composer Carl Orff, is the last of the trilogy of “Triumph” cantatas, which includes “Carmina Burana” (1937), “Catulli Carmina” (1943) and “The Triumph of Aphrodite” (1951). Described by the composer as a "stage concert", the cantata depicts a Greco-Roman wedding ritual. In this case, the form of the word "triumph" used by C. Orff refers to the Roman and Renaissance word "trionfo", which meant "procession" or "celebration". The texts of the work are based on the Latin wedding poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus and the Greek wedding poems of Sappho and Euripides. "The biggest challenge was to fuse these fragments into a new whole. Small fragments of poems, short stanzas, single lines – this is all we have left of the legacy of Sappho's poetry, so I used Catullus' wedding poems as a structure that unites them," – wrote C. Orff. The composer started working on "Trionfo di Afrodite" in 1947, but completed the piece only in 1951. A couple of years later, in 1953, the premiere of the cantata took place at Milan's La Scala opera house, conducted by the legendary Herbert von Karajan.
This extraordinary work is composed for a large symphony orchestra, which creates an impressive atmosphere and surprises everyone; however, the music remains easy to understand to the listener. Despite the large forces of the orchestra, the instrumentation is often stripped down, and the music is influenced by the rhythms and melodies of the words. “Trionfo di Afrodite” concludes with Aphrodite's triumphant performance, a rare instance in the entire work where all choral and orchestral forces are used to create a breathtaking spectacle. Hearing and experiencing such a piece is a must for every classical music lover.
On this evening, "Trionfo di Afrodite" will be performed by one of the brightest stars of Lithuanian opera, soprano Lauryna Bendžiūnaitė, tenor __________________, Kaunas State Choir (dir. Robertas Šervenikas) and the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the artistic director and chief conductor Gintaras Rinkevičius.