Stuyvesant Town woman writes opera based on Nathaniel Hawthorne story

By Sabina Mollot

It’s the gothic opera that has something for everyone. Romance. An evil doctor. Science experiments involving poison.

Cast photo of “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” featuring Douglas McDonnell, Samantha Britt and William Broderick (Photo by Peter Welch)

Cast photo of “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” featuring Douglas McDonnell, Samantha Britt and William Broderick (Photo by Peter Welch)

And it’s an original show slated for a September run at Theater for the New City, with libretto written by Stuyvesant Town resident Linsey Abrams. The opera, “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” is based on a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Abrams said she chose that story because, despite its being based in medieval Italy, she found that it still resonates in in today’s American society.

“Rappaccini’s Daughter” revolves around Beatrice, a girl whose life is spent in a garden that is full of poisonous flowers. Her father, Rappaccini, is a doctor who cares more about his science experiments than his patients. He teaches at a medical college and ends up luring a young man there named Giovani into taking a room that overlooks the garden. After Giovani does this, he falls in love with Beatrice, with neither the young man or woman realizing they’re both the subjects of a science experiment.

“It has a lot to do with our current day,” said Abrams. “That science is being used for improper purposes, weapons, genetically modifying our food, pesticides and all of those things that people are making money off of, but they’re bad for humanity.”

But at the same time, love still manages to find its way. “It’s behind the scenes manipulation, but the two young people are falling in love,” said Abrams. “She’s been alone in a garden her whole life and he’s been a student his whole life. I just fell in love with it. As did our composer.”

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