Online since August 2002
Turbulence - Charlene Baldridge's theater diary

Drinking deeply on the wine of life

Published August 22, 2005


There are no accidents when it comes to the juxtaposition of works of art that inspire and uplift us. We need only to receive and drink deeply to be drunk on the wine of life. The Muses, the god Dionysus and the Roman poet Juvenal be praised.

Such a weekend was set in motion by last week's Civic Theatre fire, which occasioned the move of Andre Watts' recital from Civic to the Spreckels Theatre, where the esteemed artist played Scarlatti, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel, Chopin and Debussy in an auditorium of salutary, human size.

During the quiet Scarlatti and Mozart, Watts sighed as heavily as if he'd pushed the Steinway across Broadway by himself; however, he soon settled in to matters at hand, inspiring with the knell of his powerful left juxtaposed to shimmering beauty of the right.

Sunday afternoon at Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla, Watts joined SummerFest colleagues – violinists Cho-Liang Lin and Gil Shaham, violist Cynthia Phelps, and cellist Jian Wang – and in various groupings they performed music by Beethoven, Prokoviev and Schubert.

During the Prokoviev, while Watts imitated the tolling of church bells, Lin skittered from top to bottom of his instrument bowing harmonics that echoed all the furies of eternity.

My companion announced at the interval that he was leaving for a spiritual retreat the next day to address the emptiness of his soul, his existential loneliness, and the despair in his life. Unfortunately, he left before Shaham, Wang and Watts played Schubert's transcendent Trio in B-flat Major, which contains everything needed to quench existential thirst. With these waters one may replenish the well of one's soul.

Saturday night, I stood on the bank of the River Styx with poet A.E. Housman, awaiting the boatman named Charon, who takes Housman on a dream journey through his life. It was the opening night of Cygnet Theatre's production of Tom Stoppard's "The Invention of Love," certainly another experience that provides succor to those who suffer and are filled with longing for the ineffable. If you love music and literature and the possibility of love, you must see this bittersweet work, which continues through Sept. 25 at 6663 El Cajon Blvd. The cast, headed by Jim Chovick and Sean Cox as the older and younger Housman, is magnificent.

Beginning its third season, Cygnet continues to raise the bar; director Sean Murray, to pull the best performance of his/her life from each actor. Don't miss this one. Visit www.cygnettheatre.com or phone (619) 337-1525, ext. 3.

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