(Première: Milano, 1953) poems of Catullus and quotations of Sappho and Euripides accompany a nuptial celebration and the worship of Aphrodite and Hymeneos.
Orff approached the ancient tragedy, setting to music the Antigone
and Oedipus Tyrannos
of Sophocles, as translated by
Hölderlin (Premières, correspondingly, in Salzburg, 1949, and Stuttgart, 1959). The third Greek ancient drama that aroused
s creative power was Prometheus Desmotes
of Aeschylus. However, since there were no German translations worthy of the original text, Orff accomplished an enormous daring act:
he set to music the very text of Aeschylus. The Ancient Greek language does not perform as a carrier of understanding facts or ideas, but as a musical element, closely bound with the completely original sound spectrum of the orchestra: wind and percussion instruments as well as musical instruments of foreign civilizations.
The last composition of Orff, De temporum fine comoedia
(Première: Salzburg, 1967), is a monumental piece of work with an eschatological content, based on
Omnium rerum fine erit vitiorum
. Nine Sibyls predict to the desperate humanity the end of the world with Greek texts, taken from the so-called Sibylic Prophesies
. Nine Anachorites reject the prediction feverishly with Greek, Latin and German texts, drafted by the composer himself and an invocation to the god Oneiros, taken from the relevant Orphic Hymn. Eventually, Lucifer appears on the upper part of the stage, who, by repeating three times
, looses gradually its satanic appearance and becomes the
Angel of Light”
he was originally. Thus, the fallen creation returns to its Creator through the repentance of the one who provoked the
fall. And then are heard, in order to emphasize the spirituality of the
universe, from the distant “
the words of Anaxagoras: “
Ta panta nous”
. That was the last word in the creative work of
Orff, and this was a Greek word.