The Kiss of Beatrice

Libretto by Sarah Knapp, Music by Steven M. Alper

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The Kiss of Beatrice (based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's story, “Rappaccini's Daughter”) tells of a scientist who distorts nature and corrupts his daughter in order to satisfy his overweening pride. This musical adaptation of the story is a neo-classic, post-modern blend of parody and prophecy. In it, humor and terror alternate and intertwine surrealistically to reflect Hawthorne's warning of the way our pride and technological wizardry threaten to corrupt and destroy human nature.

Hawthorne's prescient allegory is far more pertinent today than when it was written. We have seen the Janus face of science: medical technology has created a nightmare for those who can neither be cured nor allowed to die; nuclear science provides the means for terrorists to strike with devastating force at the heart of civilization; industrial progress threatens ecological disaster. We continue to have faith in scientific solutions, yet new diseases erupt to replace those already conquered and defy our efforts to control them. Our pride in our ability to control nature has brought us to the brink of chaos.

The Kiss of Beatrice is a work-in-progress.