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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Top Pick: “Revolution of the Palette” at the Norton Simon Museum

  A Touch of the Blues By Leticia Marie Sanchez This week two complementary exhibitions opened at the Norton Simon Museum of Art: Fragonard’s Enterprise: the Artist and the Literature of Travel and the Revolution of the Palette. Although both exhibitions proved stunning (and sublimely curated) this review will focus on the Revolution of the Palette, an exhibition that reveals the power of color, specifically the color blue. This vivid exhibition sheds light on the nuances of different shades of blue paint, providing insight about their historical origins. Did you know that ultramarine was derived from Lapis Lazuli, a rare semiprecious gemstone mined almost exclusively in Afghanistan in the 6th century and imported to Europe through Venice? The expensive true blue ultramarine can be viewed in the sumptuous cloth in Paul Liégeois’ Still Life, Mid 17th Century. Paul Liegeois French,

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Review: LA Opera’s “Lucia di Lammermoor”- Standout Albina Shagimuratova- Do not miss

 Review: LA Opera’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” Albina Shagimuratova delivers a A Standout Performance-  by Leticia Marie Sanchez LA Opera’s “Lucia Di Lammermoor” epitomizes everything that an opera should be: scenes of unrequited passion, arias between star-crossed lovers, and most importantly- a stellar, unsurpassed voice that rouses the audience at every turn. Albina Shagimuratova is by far the most gifted female singer to have performed on the LA Opera stage in recent memory. Photo, Left Albina Shagimuratova as Lucia di Lammermoor, Photo Credit: Robert Millard Singing Bel Canto Opera, particularly in a role like Lucia, is like swimming in the ocean without a life vest- the singer is completely exposed. Thankfully, Albina Shagimuratova and the entire cast of Lucia have the vocal chops to carry out their roles. A force of nature, Albina truly carried the opera with her undeniable talent. Range,

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Review: Le Salon de Musiques- A Must See!

Traveling through time without leaving your seat- Le Salon de Musiques by Leticia Marie Sanchez Photo Left: View of Downtown LA from Le Salon De Musiques, Dorothy Chandler Pavillion Imagine being able to step into an intimate nineteenth-century musical salon, hear a piece for the very first time, and then engage in spontaneous dialogue with the musicians. Fortunately, Angelenos now have the opportunity to time travel without leaving Los Angeles, thanks to Le Salon De Musiques, an original salon series created by French pianist and melodist Francois Chouchan. Chouchan is somewhat of a musical detective, searching for and unearthing brilliant compositions and bringing them to the light of day, much to everyone’s delight. For instance, at this month’s Salon, Chouchan discovered not one, but two pieces by Xaver Scharwenka, a German composer and pianist famous in his time, but whose

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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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Meet the Duke of Osuna

Goya’s Portrait of Don Pedro, Duque de Osuna, at the Norton Simon By Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark Cultural Cocktail Hour had the pleasure of meeting the Duke of Osuna at the Norton Simon last week. The Duke is currently wintering in sun-drenched Pasadena, on a vacation from his Upper East Side pied-à-terre, New York’s Frick Collection. Accompanied by his entourage, Senior Frick Curator Grace Galassi and Norton Simon Chief Curator Carol Tognieri, the Duke met members of the press on Thursday evening. Allow me now to introduce you, fair readers, to the Duke. Here are some tidibits to help you get to know this bigwig.(His literal perruque is quite subtle and ever-so-tasteful.) 3 Fun Facts about Goya’s Don Pedro, Duque de Osuna #1 Check out the Letter When you are standing in front of the portrait,

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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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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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Cultural Cocktail Hour heads to San Francisco

A splash of ballet and a dash of Marie Antoinette. Shaken, not stirred. Your pre-Christmas Cultural Cocktail  by Leticia Marie Sanchez SAN FRANCISCO EXHIBIT HIGHLIGHTS Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance. de Young Museum Closes February 17, “You live as long as you dance,” declared Rudolf Nureyev. The exhibition at the De Young Museum is a testament to the vivacious spirit of one of ballet’s most blazing stars. The exhibit showcases intimate photographs of Nureyev rehearsing, video clips of him soaring, and even ballet slippers donned by the dancer and his legendary partner, Margot Fonteyn. A close look behind the glass case reveals slipper toes well worn, naturally. One can only imagine how many times Nureyev rehearsed in his zealous quest for perfection. This fearless dancer was no stranger to conflict, including having a KGB hit placed on his life. The world of

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Exhibit Review: Van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait,” 1889, at the Norton Simon, on Loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Review: Van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait,” 1889 at the Norton Simon © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark A cool, distant gaze contrasts with the vibrating electric halo of blue brushstrokes surrounding the head of the artist. Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait, 1889” on loan from the National Gallery of Art and currently on view at the Norton Simon Museum of Art, contains a rare visual image in the lower left hand corner. Namely, the artist’s palette and paint brushes. During his lifetime, Van Gogh only depicted himself three times as an artist, including in the self-portrait now exhibited at the Norton Simon. At left: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 – 1890) Self-Portrait, 1889 Oil on canvas Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney, National Gallery of Art, Washington      Van Gogh endured an existence of crushing blows, both romantically

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