Hildegard von Bingen’s ORDO VIRTUTUMM
Students Ciara Cheli ’20, Kisha James ’21, and Genevieve Welch ’22 performing with Cappella Clausura in the Ordo Virtutum during this residency, which is connected with Music/Religion 224 “Hildegard of Bingen,” an interdisciplinary course offered this semester for the eighth time by Professors Sharon Elkins and Claire Fontijn.
For their performance of what Director Amelia LeClair calls the very first opera, Cappella Clausura stages a modern conceit: 18 Virtues work for a small NGO. Lending gender fluidity, both men and women take the various roles. Anima is an innocent idealist who applies for a job with Virtues Inc but, lacking experience, is turned away. Seeking work in the corporate world, she is immediately cultivated by a woman who exudes power, wealth, and beautiful possessions. Anima is attracted and becomes greedy, alarming the Virtues who have secretly watched her progress. They must plan her rescue and save Anima by naming and destroying the power of greed, thus renewing this extraordinary work’s relevance to today’s audiences. LeClair has transcribed the opera from medieval notation and created accompaniment parts for vielle, flute, harp, and percussion.
Founded in 2004 by choral director Amelia LeClair to research, study and perform the music of women composers, award-winning Cappella Clausura brings exquisite performances of music by women to today’s audiences, fostering an appreciation of the role of women as composers throughout history, and bringing women composers into the classical canon. Their repertoire extends from the earliest known music by women, dating from the 9th century, to the music of our own time. The core of the vocal ensemble is eight to sixteen singers who perform both a cappella and with period instruments appropriate to the repertoire. Both singers and players are drawn from Boston’s superb pool of freelancers, all accomplished professionals who perform widely as soloists and ensemble musicians in Greater Boston and beyond.
Cappella Clausura’s name was inspired by the many gifted and musically educated cloistered nuns (“in clausura”) in 17th century Italy, such as Raffaella Aleotti, Chiara Cozzolani, Bianca Maria Meda, Caterina Assandra, Sulpitia Cesis, and others. It continues to serve as a metaphor for the cultural obstacles faced by women composers throughout history and even to the present day.
Residency and concert generously supported by the Marjorie Copland Baum Fund, the Moffett Fund, and the Florence Jeup Ford ’22, Mary M. Crawford ’22, and Virginia Ford ’48 Artist in Residence Endowment Fund.