Operatic Feminism


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Photo: Stephanie Berger

Eva Beglarian, Lisa Bielawa, Kitty Brazelton and Elaine Kaplinsky are the talented women that make up Hildegurls, named for the original composer of the 12th century German opera Ordo Virtutum, Hildegard of Bingen. The quartet re-imagines this dramatic morality play for a contemporary audience using electric keyboards, samplers and electric guitars, reworking the ancient music while still remaining true to the original material.

In her own time, Bingen was an abbess, philosopher and composer, among other things. The Ordo Virtutum is her most well-known composition and appears to be the oldest surviving Western opera. The story follows a struggle for the human soul between the 17 personifications of virtue and the devil.

Filled with Latin chanting, harmonizing and religious themes, the Electric Ordo Virtutum differs greatly from what we think of as opera today. Though the women do sing in beautiful operatic soprano voices, they also use colorful lighting, intricate costuming and smoke machines, which give their performances a rock concert vibe.

While it may not be your typical iTunes download, this dramatic album is a celebration of female strength and creativity. If you’re looking to broaden your horizons and check out something new, it’s a must-have. (innovarecordings.com)

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