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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Mozart’s Mug Shot?

Holy Cadenza! Do you recognize this guy? This photo represents a facial composite of  that 21 year old wunderkind Mozart, created in the around 1990s by the Bundeskriminalamt Wiesbaden—the Federal Criminal Police Office of Wiesbaden, Germany—from four portraits painted during the composer’s lifetime, according to the website Dangerous Minds. Via: http://dangerousminds.net/comments/mozarts_mug_shot What do you think? Would you trust this guy with a Sonata? Incidentally, Mozart found forgiveness for one of the few “illegal” activities in which he found himself embroiled. As a 14 year old, he created the first illegal copy of “Misere,” a piece heavily protected by the Vatican. Even copying the piece from memory (as Mozart did) was punishable by excommunication. However, when the Pope met the young prodigy, instead of scolding him, he lavished the youngster with high praise. But, of course!

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Where Turtle Doves & Thunderstorms Collide: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Cultural Cocktail Hour adores arts-fusion. On Friday night, I listened to the “Four Seasons” performed by the Salastina Music Society and left with a new understanding of not only the music, but also the charming characters populating Vivaldi’s masterpiece. This unique musical exploration, hosted by Brian Lauritzen, translated each note and instrument into a vivid character in the Sonnets of “The Four Seasons.” Who knew that in the Allegro non molto section of Summer, you are actually hearing a Cuckoo bird? The diverse birds in that whole passage make it an orinthologist’s delight! In Autumn there’s a chase-scene (not telling you how it ends), and in the adagio section in summer- violins play the role of gnats. Yes, Gnats! (Next time someone suggests that classical music is too rarefied, just combat that with the fact that a measure in the lofty Four Seasons

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Happy Birthday, Maria Callas!

This week, Maria Callas would have been 90 years old She was an opera singer famous for her coloratura- expertise in adding texture and color to each note with her agile voice. Many critics have classified her as “Soprano Sfogato “- the unlimited soprano. Another classification for her voice was “Soprano Assoluta.” The Absolute Soprano. Yes she was.    

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Backstage at LA Opera’s “Magic Flute”- 5 Fun Facts

                                                               Mozart & Movie *Magic*                                                 Behind-the-scenes at LA Opera’s “Magic Flute“                                                                               By                                                              Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a

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Backstage at LA Opera’s Falstaff: “Let them Eat Parkin!”

                    Let them Eat Parkin!                 (It ain’t over till Falstaff sings)                  Behind-the-scenes at LA Opera’s Falstaff By Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark It ain’t over till Falstaff sings. The chubby British knight is opera’s favorite foodie. During a backstage tour at LA Opera, director Lee Blakeley revealed that Verdi’s opera about Shakespeare’s mischievous knight centers on appetite. Lust for food, money, and carnal pleasures. The feasts on Blakely’s stage illustrate the portly knight’s gusto for gastronomy, from plump turkey to Parkin cake. This sticky, traditional British dessert made of oatmeal and treacle dates back to the precise era when Falstaff would have cavorted with his merry wives of Windsor. The Parkin

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Young Verdi: Altar Boy

Verdi

By Leticia Marie Sanchez       Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered Trademark In honor of the 200th birthday of Italian Composer Giuseppe Verdi, Cultural Cocktail Hour will be sharing anecdotes about the life of this illustrious maestro. In his Book of Musical Anecdotes, Norman Lebrecht relates a revealing incident from Verdi’s childhood. The seven-year-old Verdi, born into a modest family, once served as an altar boy at the church of Le Rencole. During Fête Day, the young boy heard the organ for the first time. Transported by the emanating musical harmonies, the child did not hear the priest’s request for water. Three times did the priest make his demand, to no avail. Enraged at the child with his head in the clouds, the priest struck a severe blow, pushing young Verdi down the three altar stairs, knocking him into unconsciousness. When

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Wagner, Robber,and the Flying Dutchman

                               Wagner, Robber, and the Flying Dutchman By Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered Trademark He not have been an actual thief, but Richard Wagner’s Newfoundland dog Robber successfully stole the composer’s heart. In Wagner Without Fear, author William Berger regales us with colorful tales from Wagner’s life, including his tumultuous journey from Riga to Paris. When the debt-ridden Wagner and his wife Minna decided to escape from present-day Latvia, the composer insisted that Robber join them, despite the great risk. Cossack patrols guarded the Prussian border, with orders to shoot and kill the unlucky fugitives who caught their attention. Miraculously, the pooch did not make a peep as they dashed across the border. One little bark would have meant Sayonara Wagner. Welcome to

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Stradivarius violins and Madrid’s Palacio Real

By Leticia Marie Sanchez All Spain Photography © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark One of the largest collections of Stradivarius violins in the world can be found in…Madrid. Madrid’s Palacio Real houses a collection of antique instruments by Antonio Stradivari that includes two violins, two cellos, and a viola. Four of the five instruments were commissioned at the same time, and this collection dubbed “the Spanish Quartet” is valued at more than 100 million euros. During the eighteenth-century, Madrid boasted more than fifty Stradivarius violins and a royal court of internationally acclaimed musicians including Italian composer Luigi Boccherini. King Carlos IV had a passion for the violin, an instrument that he studied as a young man in Italy. Alas, His Majesty’s musical enthusiasm did not translate into execution. Boccherini found the king’s technique rather

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From Playboy to Priest: Franz Liszt

From Playboy to Priest: Franz Liszt  by Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark Screaming Fainting. Fighting over a pair of handkerchiefs and gloves. A dystopian scene out of Black Friday? No, just a day in the life of Franz Liszt. His female fans grabbed fallen strands of his hair, articles of his clothing, and broken piano strings. One lady snatched an old cigar stump thrown away by the pianist and encased it in diamonds, proudly wearing it as a necklace, despite its malodorous scent. Doctors classified these fervent outbursts as Lisztomania . Some physicians warned that it was contagious. One Munich newspaper announced in 1843, “Liszt fever: a contagion that breaks out in every city the pianist visits, and which neither age nor wisdom can protect against.” Married aristocrats- including Countess Marie D’Agoult and Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein-left their

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L.A. Opera’s “The Two Foscari”- A Must-See Production

           What Lies Beneath:                          Probing the Shadows of Power in LA Opera’s I Due Foscari by               Leticia Marie Sanchez Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, rued Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Or, in the case of Giuseppe Verdi’s I Due Foscari, uneasy lies the head that wears the corno ducale, the gemmed, scarlet Doge-cap. This rarely produced opera about Venice’s fifteenth-century ruler, Doge Francesco Foscari (played eminently by Plácido Domingo), has not been seen in the United States in more than four decades. LA Opera’s interpretation of Verdi’s rare jewel is a Must-See production, due to not only the talent of its cast, but also to the cinematic, visually engaging direction by Thaddeus Strassberger and scenic designer Kevin Knight. Even before the opera begins, a screen

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