The action takes place in the middle of a wedding ceremony in antiquity: young men and women are sitting at the banqueting table, impatiently waiting for the arrival of the bridal couple. At last the wedding procession appears and is greeted with enthusiastic rejoicing. The newly wedded couple have hardly exchanged a few tender words in the turbulent atmosphere when the wedding guests frenetically call for the blessing of the couple by the wedding god.
The married couple are then immediately accompanied by the guests with torches to the bridal chamber. While the bride has to be calmed down and then pushed gently into the chamber, the bridegroom has to endure a number of hearty jests before he too is allowed to enter the bedroom. The door is gently closed with final tender words of congratulation for bride and bridegroom. The muted tender voices of the newly wedded couple can still be heard when Aphrodite herself appears to give the two her blessing. The goddess of love is given a rapturous welcome by the wedding guests.
Although the combination Carmina Burana – Catulli Carmina found its place on the stage and in the concert hall, Orff increasingly felt the need to round off this pair of works with a third composition. It was obvious that Carmina Burana would be the opening piece of the series and Catulli Carmina the intermediate work, but the composer did not find it easy to find a plot which would not only be suitable as the culmination of the trilogy, but also provide unity in concept and content. After an extensive search, he returned to Catullus, this time to his Hymenäen [wedding hymns] which with their dialogue structure in the representation of a marriage ceremony in antiquity held great dramatic and scenic potential. The path from Catullus then led to the Ancient Greek poetess Sappho: the Roman poet had translated one of Sappho’s love poems into Latin. It was Sappho’s timeless lyrical love poetry which now triggered Orff’s enthusiasm. As only fragments of Sappho’s poetry had survived, Orff was forced to blend together lyrical passages, individual verses and short slivers of poetry and then place them within a viable dramatic framework with Catallus’ Hymenäen [wedding hymns]. The crowning glory of Orff’s ancient wedding ceremony was a text by Euripides: the ecstatic invocation to Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
In contrast to the visually striking Carmina Burana and the intense plot of Catulli Carmina, the Trionfo di Afrodite ultimately developed into a “staged concert” predominantly constructed on words and music.
II Corteo nuziale ed arrivo della sposa e dello sposo
III Sposa e sposo
IV Invocazione dell' Imeneo · Inno all' Imeneo
V Ludi e canti nuziale davanti al talamo · La sposa viene condotta alla camera nuziale Epitalamo
VI Canto di novelli sposi dal talamo
VII Apparizione di Afrodite