Friday, October 5, 2012


Last week I had the privilege of seeing the Roundabout Theatre's production of Cyrano de Bergerac, which I had never seen before.  Talking it over today with an actress friend I found myself praising the actor who played the lead for giving the character the depth and mystery of a late Beethoven sonata:  challenging all definitions, risking disintegration, coming together movingly in the play's final moments.

"Isn't that what all art is about?" she asked.

Ironically, at the suggestion of another friend, a literary type, I had just begun reading Melville's Pierre or The Ambiguities, of which I had never even heard.  It is hilarious.  Off the wall funny.  The edition I bought starts with a long introduction written by someone who believes that the reader, left to her own devices, will certainly miss the point.  That is always a possibility; history has many examples of readers/viewers/listeners missing the point, some of them in print.  (Take a look at Slonimsky's Dictionary of Musical Invective.)

But I enjoy taking the risk of being the only one in the theatre who laughs aloud, as at the showing many years ago of a documentary about the English countryside.  At a closeup of a herd of cows slopping up their fodder from the trough, the unseen orchestra struck up the overture to Cosi fan tutti.  Upon my bursting out laughing the usher threatened to throw me out.