Since its 2012 release, the landmark DVD “Hildegard of Bingen and the Living Light” (Paraclete Press) has continued to attract a growing audience captivated by the production’s unique exploration of one of history’s most intriguing saints. This week, in celebration of the first anniversary of Hildegard’s long-awaited canonization by the Vatican, an enhanced version of the DVD is being made available with Spanish and German subtitles to further increase its international appeal.
Produced by critically acclaimed mezzo soprano Linn Maxwell, the production features a powerful film adaptation of Maxwell’s compelling one-woman stage play and more than three hours of supplemental content. Extras include an annotated script and production notes, a two-part seminar for church or academic group discussion, and a variety of topical interviews with many of the world’s leading Hildegard scholars, authors and experts.
“Having the opportunity to invite modern audiences to meet this extraordinary 12th-century nun, writer, composer, healer and prophet continues to be a remarkable privilege,” Maxwell said. “Those who do agree she has many important things to say, and it is not surprising that her voice – impossible to silence in her time – continues to grow in relevance and strength today. The addition of new film subtitles in both Spanish and German will only amplify Hildegard’s international appeal.”
Hildegard has been an admired and controversial figure both inside and outside the Catholic Church for centuries. Beginning in earliest childhood, she experienced powerful, recurring visions that called her to express herself through her many talents and assume a role of unique leadership in the medieval church – one that often challenged the establishment head-on.
International interest in Hildegard has enjoyed a powerful resurgence following her May 10, 2012 canonization and October 2012 naming by Pope Benedict XVI as a “Doctor of the Church.” This rare title, bestowed over nine centuries on individuals of extraordinary importance in the life of the Church, has placed Hildegard in the highly select company of only 35 individuals, only four of whom have been women.
Written and performed by Maxwell, the film adaptation of the play “Hildegard of Bingen and the Living Light” is based on an original production directed by Erv Raible that has won widespread critical acclaim after 80 performances in both North America and Europe. Writing in the New York Theater Review, John Hoglund has said, “Hildegard returns...through the artistry of Linn Maxwell in a commanding performance that is as scholarly as it is relevant today;” according to The Times of London, “Hildegard is reborn as mezzo Linn Maxwell,” with her “hypnotically beautiful song.”
The DVD features Maxwell as Hildegard, performing the mystic’s compositions on authentic medieval instruments and, through Hildegard’s actual writings, reveals the life and passion of an extraordinary woman who lived centuries ahead of her time.
Maxwell has performed on the stages of major orchestras including the Chicago, Cleveland, Seattle and Toronto Symphonies, and the Berlin Radio Orchestra, among others. Her operatic engagements include San Francisco (Placido Domingo conducting), the Cincinnati Opera, Netherlands Opera (with Nicholas Harnancourt), Hungarian State Opera and recital halls across the United States and in 27 countries worldwide. In addition to her extensive performances of the stage version of “Hildegard of Bingen and the Living Light,” Maxwell has also performed cabaret and one-woman shows in New York City and made her European cabaret debut in 2006 at Frankfurt’s International Theater.