Arts » Arts Stories & Interviews

Tragic Romance and Poisonous Plants in Alamo City Opera’s ‘La Hija de Rappaccini’


  • Alamo City Opera

Good and Evil: two forces that manipulate human identity, experience and relationships. These two powers have been the subject of music, art and literature for centuries, found in different forms and interpretations throughout the world. La Hija de Rappaccini is a two-act opera by Mexican composer Daniel Catán, set to Juan Tovar’s libretto of Octavio Paz’s play of the same title. The impetus and inspiration of these works is found in Rappaccini’s Daughter, a classic short story by American novelist Nathanial Hawthorne. Set in Padua, Italy, the opera sings a story of tragic romance between Giovanni, a young medical student, and Beatriz, the daughter of a mad botanist and keeper of his potent garden of poisonous plants. Having worked among her father’s plants her entire life, Beatriz is poisonous herself — polluting anything that touches her skin. Giovanni falls deeply in love with Beatriz believing in her innocence, but also becomes aware of her poisonous posture. A simple touch from Beatriz poisons Giovanni, who sets out to find an antidote for them both. What ensues is a multifaceted struggle of good and evil in the scientific works of Dr. Rappaccini and in the superegos of each character. Coming to the stage via Alamo City Opera, La Hija de Rappaccini is a complex, beautifully composed musical tragedy that sings of lucid love and luring evils. $15-$50, 8pm Sat, May 20, 2:30pm Sun, May 21, Palo Alto College Performing Arts Center, 1400 W. Villaret Blvd., (210) 314-6696,

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