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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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Review: Keeping an Audience on its Toes: “Framework” at MOCA- A Must See Production

Review: Keeping an Audience on Its Toes: “Framework” at MOCA A Must-See Production  by Leticia Marie Sanchez Text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark Jean Cocteau once remarked, “The Louvre is a morgue. You go there to identify your friends.” Unlike Cocteau’s bleak categorization of museums, L.A Dance Project illustrated the vibrant possibilities of a living museum through their energetically innovative performance at MOCA on Thursday evening.  FRAMEWORK at MOCA Grand Avenue, July 19, 2012, photo by Christina Edwards, courtesy of MOCA.   The poignant sounds of the violin emanated from the gallery walls. Benjamin Millepied, former principal dancer of the New York City Ballet and choreographer of the hit film “Black Swan,” danced with Amanda Wells as 17-year old Colburn violinist Mayumi Kanagawa performed movements from Bach’s B Minor Partita and A Minor Sonata. The aptly named

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Review: Simon Boccanegra at LA Opera- a MUST-SEE Production

          Review: LA Opera’s Simon Boccanegra A Night of Dignity and Glory by Leticia Marie Sanchez ©2012 Director Elijah Moshinsky’s Simon Boccanegra, now on stage at LA Opera, was originally created in 1991 for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and exudes majesty and dignity. The plebians, the ninety-nine percent movement in fourteenth-century Genoa, want to occupy the Doge’s palace and remove the patricians from power through the corsair hero of the masses, Simon Boccanegra. Moshinsky’s glorious production does not use any gimmicks or flash. Instead, through his elegant reverence for history and a beautifully refined set, the music and characters come to the forefront of the opera, riveting the audience as does Plácido Domingo in the title role. Even before Simon Boccanegra begins, a blue impressionist screen sets the stage, alluding to the oceans conquered

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Cultural Cocktail Hour heads to San Francisco: “Masters of Venice” at the de Young Fine Arts Museum

Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power  By Leticia Marie Sanchez It was the best of times. It was the best of times. Stepping into San Francisco’s de Young Museum of Fine Arts is stepping into the Venetian Renaissance. Entering the exhibit you feel like one of the many pilgrims shown in the de Young’s reproduction of Bellini’s panoramic scene on Piazza San Marco. Gentile Bellini: Procession in the Piazza San Marco, 1496. The Masters of Venice applies to the city’s painters and power-brokers. Canvases of Venetian merchant ships made the city a maritime power. Canvases of avant-garde artists during the Quattrocento and Cinquecento like Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and Tintoretto pushed the creative envelope. The Venetian School revolutionized painting by shifting away from rigid wood panels, favoring canvases as a medium of choice as well as oil painting instead of

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Theater Review: A Noise Within’s “Desire Under the Elms,”- a MUST-SEE production

Electricity in Pasadena: A Noise Within’s “Desire Under The Elms” By Leticia Marie Sanchez For those in Los Angeles without power, head straight to A Noise Within’s “Desire Under The Elms,” the riveting production has all the electricity you need, and then some. Pasadena is no stranger to the works of Nobel Prize-winning American playwright Eugene O’ Neil. In 1928, the Pasadena Community Playhouse staged the world premiere of O’ Neil’s Lazarus Laughed. Directed by Dámaso Rodriguez, A Noise Within’s current, explosive production of Eugene O’ Neil’s Desire Under The Elms brings rawness to a narrative rooted in the myth of Euripides’ Hippolytus. It is a story steeped in ego, revenge, desire and the nature of human beings themselves. The strength of this production lies in the talent of its cast. William Dennis Hunt powerfully interprets the role of “tough

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Eugene Onegin

tatianas-bath

Opera Review: The Visual Poetry of LA Opera’s “Eugene Onegin” by Leticia Marie Sanchez “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” During LA Opera’s psychologically profound production of Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” red skies foreshadowed emotional storms, from the passion-red sky faced by Tatiana the morning after she wrote her feverish note to Onegin to the blazing landscape faced by Lensky on the morning of his fateful duel. LA Opera’s production masterfully captured the poetic spirit of Tchaikovsky’s opera, bringing the interior life of Alexander Pushkin’s characters to the foreground through sumptuous visual poetry. This beloved masterpiece has never before been performed at LA Opera. Its debut on Saturday night led by James Conlon was nothing short of world class. The visually stunning production was originally created in 2006 by the late director

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ARIA’s Opening Night Festivities at LA OPERA- From Russia with Love

ARIA’s Opening Night Festivities at LA Opera: From Russia With Love All text and Photography © 2011 By Leticia Marie Sanchez At LA Opera’s ARIA’s White Night party, chaired by actress and singer-songwriter Emmy Rossum a vivacious fur-capped hostess floated around the dance floor bearing divine desserts. As James Bond would say, from Russia With Love. The Maestro himself, Placido Domingo, appeared at the ARIA party to introduce the talented artists behind the production of Eugene Onegin including:conductor James Conlon,Stage Director Francesca Gilpin, and Lighting Designer Peter Mumford. Additionally, the party goers met the stars of Eugene Onegin including: Dalibor Jenis (Eugene Onegin), Oksana Dyka (Tatiana), Vsevolod Grinov (Lensky), Ekaterina Semenchuk (Olga), James Creswell (Prince Germin), Ronnita Nicole Miller (Filipievna), and Keith Jameson (Monsieur Triquet). The Über-talented Oksana Dyka (third from Left, below) whose performance as Tatiana brought down the opera house with multiple standing

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Review: Itzhak Perlman and Beethoven at the Hollywood Bowl

By Leticia Marie Sanchez The program notes for Tuesday’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl included a 1920 quotation from Italian musician and conductor Ferrucio Busoni, “With Beethoven humanity enters into music for the first time.” Busoni’s postulate also holds true for the humanistic performance of violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman who led the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s in an all-Beethoven program including Romance No. 1 in G Major, Romance No. 2 in F. Major, Symphony No. 8 in F Major, and Symphony No. 5. The indefatigable Mr. Perlman had the dual role of violist and conductor at Tuesday’s magnificent performance. Mr. Perlman’s sensitive interpretation of Beethoven had guts, soul, and heart. As a conductor, Maestro Perlman is easily the best one to have graced the stage of the Hollywood Bowl for his talent in bringing out the best in each individual member

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Review: Rooting for the villain- the seductive powers of Richard III at Theatricum Botanicum

Rooting for the villain: the seductive powers of Richard III at Theatricum Botanicum By Leticia Marie Sanchez Nestled in a wooded glen, underneath the evening stars and accompanied by the hypnotic hum of crickets, Topanaga Canyon’s Theatricum Botanicum adds a dose of magic to Shakespeare. The outdoor Globe-like theater simultaneously infuses the Bard with reality and wonder. The march of Richard III’s army down dark, forest-like hills conveys a dimension of realism and immediacy that cannot be matched by an enclosed venue. Similarly, the towering loft used during the Tower of London murder scene enhanced the mysterious mood. The vast verdant set suspended the audience’s disbelief, as did the cast of talented actors in the Theatricum’s production of Richard III. On Saturday night’s performance, Melora Marshall starred as the protean protagonist, triumphantly suspending the audience’s disbelief that the Machiavellian king could

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