American Premiere of Hildegard: Bambina Mistica

On Sunday, November 8 of 2015, International Opera Theater presented a tribute to Hildegard VonBingen as a child entitled, Hildegard von Bingen: Bambina Mistica – Child Mystic at Our Lady of Angels Chapel in Aston, PA  where the sisters pray daily for the needs of the world.

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This American premiere petite sacred opera, with original libretto written by Karen Lauria Saillant, based on the writings of Hildegard regarding her childhood, has music by Hildegard, as well as renowned Sardinian sacred music composer, Mariano Garau. Singing the role of Hildegard Bambina (Hildegard as an 8 year old child when she first went to live with Jutta to prepare to become a nun) was 10 year old Isabella Moitoso.

Hildegard’s 14 year old teacher, Jutta Von Sponheim, was portrayed by 17 year old Mary Tresvalles, who also accompanied the cantata on harp.
Singing the roles of seven of the sixteen Virtues named by Hildegard were seven young sopranos from the Philadelphia/New Jersey area:
Mary Consoli as Humility,
Charlotte Croquette as Celestial Love,
Lia Della Porta as Faith,
Margaret Friedman as Patience,
Emma Giancola as Knowledge of God,
Maura Koob as Hope and
Elizabeth McKenzie as Mercy and The Nurse of Hildegard Child.
Italian Soprano Agnese Pazienti as Hildegard Adult
“Hildegard Von Bingen: Bambina Mistica” was originally premiered in Italy in August 2015, as part of The Assisi Suono Sacro Festival.

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This sacred cantata was part of Global Philadelphia 2015 celebration.The work was under the musical and stage direction of Karen Lauria Saillant.

Costumes by Micaela Valentini  and hair by Francesca Rivetti.

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Our production of “Hildegard vonBingen: Bambina Mistica” was dedicated to the memory of American voice teacher, Harold Parker, extraordinary musician, artist and visionary who centered his entire life’s work on the facilitation of truth and sincerity in the execution of music, theater and fine art.
1891331_10152094565498953_259853501_oHarold Parker was the first singing teacher of IOT founder and artistic director, Karen Saillant. Ms. Saillant was twelve years old and a full scholarship student at The Settlement Music School in Philadelphia when she began to be imprinted by the noble vision of Harold Parker.

Harold Parker believed that singing without excessive tension could offer to singers, as well as the audience, a transformational artistic experience. Harold Parker constantly took a stand for these important values, no matter what the consequences, or to what dissenting colleagues he had to deliver an enlightening commentary. The desire for harmony and balance was so deeply embraced by Mr. Parker and so thoroughly transferred to Ms. Saillant that it led her to leave Indiana University, where she was a full scholarship student, in her junior year. Eventually in her search for more answers, Ms. Saillant would embrace The Alexander Technique when she was introduced to it while singing in Italy in the 60s.
Her relationship with the Alexander Technique would lead her to a long and intimate relationship with Katherine Wielopolska, a member of FM Alexander’s original class, who Karen sought out after she returned from Italy. Kitty, as she was affectionately called, had just returned from England where she had been officially certified, as she had not been able to finish her original certification because of a mental breakdown. At that time there were no Alexander teachers in Philadelphia. Karen worked diligently to introduce all of her friends to the work. For three years, Kitty gave Ms. Saillant daily lessons and Kitty eventually became Harold’s Alexander teacher. Kitty took Karen to New York to study with Carl Stough, as she believed that he had the answer to a breathing problem which had been creating problems for Karen since before birth. Carl Stough was able to remediate Karen’s sternal angle, a situation believed unchangeable and which no one previous to her work with Carl had understood, which had, unbeknownst to Harold, Kitty and Karen, been at the center of her breathing difficulties for decades.

Harold Parker never stopped supporting his philosophy of release and standing up for what he believed. Ms. Saillant would ultimately engage in decades of research into the essence of balance both onstage and in group settings. This goal would lead to the development of her own work- “The Saillant System: Singing In Harmony With Nature”. This work has its roots in those early days when working with her visionary teacher: Harold Parker. “HIldegard vonBingen: Bambina Mistica” seeks to share that love for nature, for nobility of purpose, for the virtuous life, which was evidenced in all aspects of Harold Parker’s existence. It is with deep gratitude that International Opera Theater celebrates Harold Parker and his life- dedicated to beauty.