This is the first demo recording we've made for a new musical we're writing with Duane Poole, tentatively titled "Beautiful Poison," based on the Nathaniel Hawthorne story "Rappaccini's Daughter."
The piece takes place in New Orleans in the present day, but the song (and much of the action of the show) takes place in and around a walled garden filled with exotic, poisonous plants, and a beautiful woman who seems to have had no contact with the outside world since the 1920's. The rumor is that her father, Dr. Rappaccini, has harvested poisons from the garden, ground them up with mortar & pestle, and injected them into his daughter's veins for years to build up her resistance to germs until she has become a walking poison herself -- immunity off the charts, but unable to touch or be touched.
The action of the song is as follows: John Conti, a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, has taken a room in a b&b overlooking the garden, and has become obsessed with the pretty girl in the garden below. The pretty girl, conversely, has become deeply interested in him, and has shown him a way to sneak into the garden at night.
She takes him on a tour aound the dangerous garden, and it becomes clear that she:
1. is really into him, and
2. she really wants to touch him, and
3. she can't.
If you like the song, download it, and consider paying us a buck to help with groceries, and support musical theatre writers who like to eat food.
in Rome a thousand years ago
the fashion of the day
was to make the eyes look larger
and the drops from this plant were the very best way
so every lovely lady fair
had huge eyes that glistened and shined
all with thanks to bella donna
she could drive a man out of his mind
and then she would slowly go blind
the truth came clear as years went by
each girlfriend or mistress or wife
could no longer see in the mirror
the amorous eyes that would cost her her life
imagine all the tears they shed
imagine their shock and surprise
when they found their doom was due to the bloom
that gave them their beautiful eyes
heart of jesus, angel's wing
the star of bethlehem
oleander, whistling thorn
I know every leaf every root every stem
so many ways to end a life
to set your spirit free
a taste of water hemlock leaf
or a bite of the fruit of the suicide tree
yellow jasmine, bleeding heart
black nightshade, christmas rose
angel's trumpet, leopard's bane
and this is how my garden grows
in New Orleans, right here, right now,
there's danger everywhere
and it's best to keep your distance
but hard to resist when you breathe the sweet air
with every lovely blossom fair
you have to be careful, you know
can you look past the thorns and the nettles
just how far are you willing to go?
do you dare to dig deep down below?
if you go beneath the surface and
embrace all that's strange and bizarre
all these fragile fatal flowers
they don't deserve blame, they can't help what they are
imagine how the flowers feel
they yearn to reach up toward the sky
without warmth from above and devotion and love
their beauty will wither and die.
released August 3, 2012
written by Milburn & Vigoda, ©2012, published by Warner-Chappell, My Hat Music (ASCAP)
Vocal: Valerie Vigoda
Instruments: Brendan Milburn
Libretto for the musical, original screenplay, and inspiration for the entire project: Duane Poole
photo by Tatania Gerus, CC attribution license, from flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/tgerus/3914762057/
all rights reserved