Adam Zgol’s Purgatorio Score

Dante’s Purgatorio Through Music” showcases a piano composition by Adam Zgol (DeMatha High School ’21, Hyattsville, MD), created as an assignment for DeMatha ethics and theology instructor Homer Twigg’s unit on Purgatorio. The composition was presented at the Academic Symposium at Catholic University (Washington, D.C.) in Spring 2020.

The whole composition is available to listen to on Soundcloud.

We thank Adam Zgol and Homer Twigg for their permission to share these files.

Mountain of Purgatory in Minecraft

In 2019, Juniors Jack Batton and Connor Smith of DeMatha High School (Hyattsville, MD) designed a playable Minecraft version of the Mountain of Purgatory as their final project for DeMatha theology instructor Homer Twigg’s unit on the Purgatorio. The mountain is organized by terrace, each labeled with corresponding cantos. The terraces depict figures of the penitents engaged in their purgations; pictured at left is the wall of fire on the terrace of Lust. The project was presented at the Academic Symposium at Catholic University in Spring 2019, and a video walkthrough of the world is accessible on YouTube (last accessed April 24, 2020).

In early 2020, Jonas Long, Chris Allen, Thomas Mesafint, Gray Griffin, Seth Barnes (DeMatha HS) took the original concept developed by Batton and Smith and greatly expanded on it in terms of size, detail and complexity. They also have made their map publicly accessible for other teachers and students of Dante to explore and contribute to in the future. Screenshots (right; below) are of the server, and instructions to access the server can be found here (last accessed April 24, 2020).

We thank the designers and Homer Twigg for their permission to share the documents.

Alison Cornish and Stefano Albertini on Dantedì 2020

In recognition of the first annual Dantedì (March 25, 2020), the director of NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, Stefano Albertini, interviewed Alison Cornish, Chair of the Department of Italian Studies at NYU and Acting President of the Dante Society of America. They conducted the interview virtually, during shelter-at-home orders resulting from the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

Reflecting on her experience teaching Purgatorio during the pandemic, Cornish comments that Purgatorio is “about community after traumatic separation” (7:34), a community that is recreated through shared cultural rites like liturgy and song, forms of virtual embrace, and collective suffering.

The interview is available to view on YouTube (last accessed April 10, 2020). The comments on Purgatorio can be heard at 6:00-15:34.

Tappeto Volante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso

The theater troupe Tappeto Volante has staged multiple immersive, ambulatory performances of Dante’s canticles in different locations in the province of Salerno. The first, Inferno, was staged in the Grotte di Pertosa-Auletta (also the backdrop for the 2020 musical Inferno, by the Grieco Brothers) and has been running continuously in the Cave of Castelcivita since 2012. They continued with a performance of Purgatorio at the Certosa di Pedula. They return to Salerno for their Paradiso, staged in the Castello di Arechi (promotional poster, right).

The troupe has also performed their Inferno in the Museo del Sottosuolo, and their Purgatorio in the Real Casa Santa dell’Annunziata, both in Naples.

See the Tappeto Volante website for details and reservations.

“Bang’s Purgatorio

“Heading over waters getting better all the time
My mind’s little skiff now lifts its sails,
Letting go the oh-so-bitter sea behind it.

The next realm, the second I’ll sing,
Is here where the human spirit get purified
And made fir for the stairway to heaven.

Here’s where the kiss of life restores the reign
Of poetry—O true-blue Muses, I’m yours—
And where Calliope jumps up just long enough

To sing backup with the same bold notes
That knocked the poor magpie girls into knowing
Their audacity would never be pardoned.”    –Excerpt from Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio, The New Yorker, December 23, 2019

Illustration by Berke Yazicioglu.
See more about Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio here.

“Mary Jo Bang Discusses Purgatorio

“Well. And I think that the other aspect of the note is my trying to rationalize my own translation decisions. So, for instance, in in one of the cantos, in one of the early cantos in Purgatorio, Dante and Virgil encounter Belacqua, who is lounging in a shadow and being very sarcastic about Dante’s hurry to get up to the top of Mount Purgatory. He says, Fine, Mr. Lightning Bolt, you go right on up to the top. And at that point, Dante realizes who he is. And commentators link this to a bookseller that Dante used to know who would sit around all day. And Dante was always teasing him about his laziness. And so he’s using him as an example. But this. You go right on up, Mr. Lightning Bolt.”    –Mary Jo Bang, in an interview with Kevin Young for The New Yorker, December 23, 2019

See excerpts from Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio here.

Trinity of Realities – Bayonetta

“The Trinity Of Realities is a term to describe the nature of the universe of the Bayonetta series. As its name suggests, the Trinity is composed of 3 realms that house the traits of light, darkness, and chaos respectively. Bayonetta travels through each of these realms numerous times throughout the games.

[. . .]

Paradiso

The highest layer of the Trinity, Paradiso is home to the Laguna, or angels, and is closest to the human interpretation of heaven.

The Human World

The plane of reality in which humans live, also known as a realm of chaos before Aesir brought order to it with his rule.

Inferno

The realm of darkness ruled over by the demonic Queen Sheba, Inferno is closest to the human interpretation of hell.

Purgatorio

Acting as a parallel reality to the Human World and not necessarily a member of the Trinity. Purgatorio is a realm that is most similar to the human interpretation of purgatory, as the name suggests.”    –“Trinity of Realities,” Bayonetta Wiki, December 19, 2019

Learn more about Bayonetta, Platinum Games‘ 2009 hack ‘n’ slash video game, here.

The Periodic Table of Purgatorio

Check out a recent project by one of my students: Dante’s #Purgatorio done in symbolic, periodic table form. Paul Laffoley, eat your heart out.”    –@parttimemonk, Twitter, January 18, 2019

Check out the Mountain of Purgatory in Minecraft entry, referenced in the Twitter comments, on Dante Today here.

“Michael Hersch’s ‘a breath upwards’ Receives Baltimore Premiere”

“Scored for soprano, horn, clarinet, and viola, ‘a breath upwards’ has a sung text drawn from Dante — mostly Purgatorio, with some Inferno at the end — and another, un-sung text drawn from Ezra Pound’s Cantos. The fragmentary Pound lines are meant to be contemplated during four instrumental interludes in the 12-movement cycle.

[. . .]

This score, Hersch wrote in a program note printed in Thursday’s program, was his effort ‘to get away from illness, fear and loss,’ that he turned to parts of Dante’s epic poem about purgatory and hell might not seem the most logical way of going about this attitude shift, but it’s a perfectly natural choice for the deep-thinking Hersch.

[. . .]

The most extraordinary and moving passage was the final song, when the dark mood lifted just enough, leading to a long, beautiful melodic arc for the singer in the final line: ‘And then we emerged to see the stars again.’ The sudden cut-off at the end of that line — like the way a falling star evaporates in an instant — was a master stroke.”    –Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, April 24, 2015

The Swoon, Neverland/ben son ben son Beatrice (1990 album)

Christian rock band The Swoon released an EP in 1990 titled Neverland/ben son ben son Beatrice. Click the image of the album cover to listen to one of the tracks, “Via Dolorosa,” on YouTube. An image of the track list, as printed on the CD, is below (image from Amazon.com).

Read a 1991 review of the album in Hope College’s student newspaper The anchor, here.