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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Review: “Billy Budd” at LA Opera

Hanging… Onto the Edge of Your Seat   LA Opera’s Billy Budd by Leticia Marie Sanchez  LA Opera’s Billy Budd in a word? Intense. Three standing ovations. The opening night of Billy Budd provoked rousing enthusiasm from the crowd. When even the villain elicits fanatical cheers, you know that something has gone incredibly right. Liam Bonner as Billy Budd. (Photo: Robert Millard) Firstly, the set. The formidable chorus of sailors resembles a powerful tableau vivant. Producer Francesca Zambella stipulated that the set not include a ship, and yet the oceanic allusions, through Alison Chitty’s simple yet evocative bold blue motif correspond with the subtle, nuanced undercurrents in Benjamin Britten‘s score. It is no secret that James Conlon has championed the twentieth- century British composer by leading the centennial tribute, Britten 100/LA. Conlon’s deep love for the music was evident on Billy Budd’s opening

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Backstage at LA Opera’s “Billy Budd”

Cultural Cocktail Hour’s Editor-in-Chief Leticia Marie Sanchez had the opportunity to go backstage on the set of Benjamin Britten’s seafaring opera Billy Budd which opens at LA Opera on February 22nd. Backstage at Billy Budd: 3 Fun Facts 1. Water and Britten Conductor James Conlon explained, “Water is an enormous element in Britten’s music.” Born in the fishing port of Lowestoft, England, Britten was influenced by his childhood panorama; as an adult, he set many of his operas in locales surrounded by water. For instance, Peter Grimes takes place in a fishing village.Death in Venice takes place in the Italian city of canals, while Billy Budd takes place on a battleship, the HMS Indomitable. 2. The Odyssey of the Set The set that you will see braved London storms, the Panama Canal, New York tempests- and (whew!) made it to Los Angeles

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January 21- Happy Birthday Plácido Domingo!: Video Appearance on CCH

In honor of Plácido Domingo‘s birthday today, here is a video clip where the Maestro made a cameo appearance, chatting briefly with Cultural Cocktail Hour Founder Leticia Marie Sanchez after his performance of Simon Boccanegra during an episode on the history of LA Opera. Wishing the Maestro health bliss and many more triumphs in the coming year!   

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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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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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