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Ordo Virtutum Hildegard of Bingen

Ordo Virtutum
Ansy Boothroyd; John Hancom; Evelyn Tubb etc
Vox Animae with Mayfield Chamber Opera Chorus, Michael Fields, harp; Piers Adams, recorder; Steven Devine, percussion

Hildegard A dramatised BBC Omnibus documentary starrig Patricia Routledge

A Source of Inspiration - A documentary about the life and times of Hildegard presented by the Washington National Cathedral

A Real Mystic - An interview and lecture with Professor Matthew Fox and Mary Grabowsky

- An art gallery of Hildegard's mystic visions with comments by Professor Matthew Fox

BBC/Opus Arte OA 0874D [4 hours 10 minutes: 16:9]
Illustrated book with notes, Latin text and English translation included

Although no enthusiast for medieval monody, I do find something special in Hildegard's soaring lines, which holds attention and brings a feeling of well-being, even if one does not share the theology and mysticism that inform her music, writing and graphic art; a complete polymath of the twelfth century.

Hildegard von Bingen's remarkable and inspiring story (she defies the unfeeling rigidity of her Abbot and departs to found a convent of her own) is given, and fairly plausibly illustrated, in the BBC documentary, and there is another from Washington.

With videoed lectures and analyses of a gallery of her images of mystic visions, this double DVD provides what many may find overkill; its genesis is described persuasively by Ferenc van Damme of www.opusarte.com in a fascinating article, The Making of a DVD, in the November issue of BBC Music Magazine.

Its core Ordo Virtuum, given here in a semistaged English production, is virtually an opera and must be one of the first. It has an involving text, and we have a compellingly sinister Devil in evening dress for allegorical struggle and the singers, with many individual parts, are committed and good to watch. The singing cast is led by Ansy Boothroyd and Evelyn Tubb and I felt its 70 minutes were well spent, and remain haunting afterwards. The full text is reproduced with translation in the illustrated booklet.


© Peter Grahame Woolf