“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci
With my Italian Renaissance-inspired THE GIRL IN THE GLASS set to release in mid-September, when I found out Divine Rivalry was being staged at the Old Globe Theater here in San Diego, I knew I had to see it. I spent month after month researching for this book, which is set in Florence, in both the current day and the mid 1500s. So my interest was definitely piqued.
With a cast of just four men, this play takes you to “16th-century Florence, where two of the world’s greatest artists, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, face off in a painting competition orchestrated by political mastermind Niccolò Machiavelli. This contest forms the backdrop for an even greater battle as the leading minds of the Renaissance clash over political gain, personal riches and the immortality of art.”
I suppose if you aren’t a devotee of history and utterly captivated by the genius of the masters of the Italian Renaissance you might’ve been a little lost, perhaps bored, by the story itself, but you couldn’t have missed the almost child-like desire on the part of both DaVinci and Michelangelo to be the best, to be known as the best, to leave behind the absolute best.
The first time I saw Florence, I was was left dumbstruck by the audacious beauty created by the greatest collection of artists to have lived at any one time. The remarkable thing is, the statues, the paintings, the frescoes are silent (although in my book I have a character who can hear a voice inside the canvases and marble) and yet they were created in this maelstrom of politics, religion, and personal advancement. You don’t see that when you gaze at the David or gape at the majesty of the Duomo, or get teary over the beauty of Da Vinci’s Annunciation or Botticelli’s Primavera, thank goodness. You don’t see the rivalry, you only see the magnificence.
I think in the end Da Vinci and Michelangelo got their wish. They left their best, even if the times they lived in weren’t the best, nor were they.
It’s nice to think that our best efforts outlive us, and despite us.
If you live in or near San Diego, and you love history, I recommend you see it. The cast members are wonderfully gifted, and the actor who played Da Vinci, utterly convincing.