The Poisoned Kiss

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The Poisoned Kiss
Opera by Ralph Vaughan Williams
LibrettistEvelyn Sharp
Based onRichard Garnett's The Poison Maid and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter
12 June 1936 (1936-06-12)

The Poisoned Kiss, or The Empress and the Necromancer is an opera in three acts by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. The libretto, by Evelyn Sharp, is based on Richard Garnett's The Poison Maid and Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1844 short story Rappaccini's Daughter. The opera was completed in 1929, first performed by the Intimate Opera Company at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, Britain, on 12 May 1936 (conducted by Cyril Rootham), and premiered in the United States on April 21, 1937 by the Juilliard Opera Theatre at the Juilliard School's theatre on Claremont Ave.[1] The cast included Annamary Dickey as Angelica, Marvel Biddle as Tormentilla, Glenn Darwin as Gallanthus, Mary Frances Lehnerts as the Empress, David Otto as Dipsacus, Albert Gifford as Amaryllus, and Signe Gulbrandsen and Athena Pappas as the mediums.[2]

The Bronx Opera staged the work in January 2012.[3]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 12 May 1936
(Conductor: Cyril Rootham )
Angelica soprano Margaret Field-Hyde
Tormentilla soprano Mabel Ritchie
Gallanthus baritone Geoffry Dunn
Dipsacus bass Frederick Woodhouse
Empress Persicaria contralto Meriel St Clair
Amaryllus tenor Trefor Jones



  1. ^ Olin Downes (22 April 1937). "Juilliard School Gives New Opera: Premiere of 'Poisoned Kiss' by Vaughan Williams Is Offered by Students". The New York Times. p. 19.
  2. ^ PROGRAMS OF THE WEEK: Operas by Copland, Hindemith, Williams. The New York Times. 18 April 1937. p. 172.
  3. ^ Performances of The Poisoned Kiss advertised on the Bronx Opera's website Archived 2012-01-23 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 25 December 2011


  • Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4