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Cultural Cocktail Hour reports from Paris: Garnier and the Paris Opera

A brief history of Le Palais Garnier: Persona Non Grata and the Opera Bombs

By Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Paris Photography and Text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez


Persona Non Grata

On the exuberant opening night at Le Palais Garnier, the Paris opera, one person was not on the guest list: Charles Garnier, the opera’s architect. In order to attend the inauguration ceremony with his wife, the landmark’s architect had to pay one hundred and twenty francs out of his own pocket. Persona Non Grata. Persona Non Gratis.

Garnier’s status had changed from revered architect to social pariah due to the shift in Paris’s political landscape. Garnier had been selected during a competition in 1861 under the reign of Napoleon III. The opening ceremony took place fourteen years later, under a vastly different regime. The government of the Third Republic had an aversion to any associations from the Second Empire, which included the Napoleon-selected Charles Garnier.

How did Napoleon III first come up with the idea for a new opera? 

The answer lies in two operas that took the phrase “the performance bombed” to a whole new level.

Opera Bombs

Napoleon III became obsessed with constructing a new opera house after escaping the Grim Reaper en route to the former opera house at Rue Le Peletier. On January 14, 1858, Felice Orsini and his cohorts hurled three bombs at the imperial carriage, killing eight people and wounding one hundred and forty-two others. The emperor and empress, however, survived and attended the evening’s performance of Rossini’s William Tell. Even if the performance bombed, you could always count on the Napoleons to put in a cameo appearance.

Napoleon III’s uncle, Napoleon I also faced an operatic death threat. On Christmas Eve, 1800, a bomb exploded as his carriage headed to the opening night of Haydn’s Creation, narrowly missing the emperor. How’s that for a Christmas present?

Napoleon III subsequently commissioned Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann to help rebuild Paris in a way that would increase the city’s security. Napoleon III envisioned fortified avenues extending from the Louvre and Les Jardins de Tuileries all the way up the Rue De La Paix. By widening the avenues of Paris, including the path leading up to the new opera, Napoleon III and Haussmann hoped to decrease the ability of pesky troublemakers to set up dangerous barricades on narrow streets.  

Now, if you happen to catch a performance that unfortunately bombs, be grateful that no dynamite or shrapnel is involved.

For more photography of the Paris Opera, please see the next article on Cultural Cocktail Hour.          

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Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, 2012: April showers bring May flowers

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, Spring 2012

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography and text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

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Tempests at the Tuileries, Paris, 2012

Tempest at the Tuilieries

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography and text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez


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Cultural Cocktail Hour in Paris: Nocturnal Louvre

Nocturnal Louvre

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography and text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez


 

 

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Cultural Cocktail Hour and the European arts scene- will be away in Europe this May

 

Cultural Cocktail Hour will be in Paris and Venice this month, reporting on the European arts scene.

Please check back on this site in June for reviews and photography!

In the meantime, please take the time to explore the different existing categories on Cultural Cocktail Hour, including my favorite, “Artistic Anecdotes”

Happy Spring,  everyone!

Leticia Marie Sanchez

Editor-in-Chief

Cultural Cocktail Hour

p.s. this month is Opera Month in Los Angeles- please enjoy one of the many opera offerings (see below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May is Opera Month in LA

May is Opera Month in Los Angeles

From the traditional to the avant-garde

The operas playing in Southern California include:

LA Opera’s Herb Ross production of La Bohème

opening May 12

starring Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez

Conducted by Patrick Summers

LA Opera. 135 North Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 972-8001

For full schedule, please visit

http://www.laopera.com

The Los Angeles Philharmonic presents Mozart’s Don Giovanni,

the first part of the epic three-year Mozart/Da Ponte Trilogy

May 18 to 26

Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Conducted by Gustavo Dudamel

Starring baritone Mariusz Kwiecien

Costumes by Rodarte designers Kate & Laura Mulleavy

Stage design by Walt Disney Concert Hall architect Frank Gehry.

111 South Grand Ave. LA, CA 90012. 323.850.2000

www.LAPhil.com

The Long Beach Opera presents

West coast premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar

with libretto by David Henry Hwang.

May 19 and 26

Based on the life of Spanish playwright and poet

Federico Garcia Lorca.

For more information call 562.432.5934

or visit

www.LongBeachOpera.org

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Backstage at LA Opera: the scene behind the scene….

Backstage at LA Opera:

Sneak Preview of La Bohème

By Leticia Marie Sanchez

All text and photography ©2012

 

Life Imitates Art, and art imitates life in LA Opera’s upcoming production of La Bohème. In Puccini’s opera about bohemian Paris, the two young lovers, Rodolfo and Mimi, will be played by real life married couple Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez.The operatic duo began dating in 2005 after they starred together in a production of, you guessed it, La Bohème. Pérez, a recent winner of the Richard Tucker Award, reflected on the moment when she first saw Costello as the leading man of her heart: “The moon was out, and I saw him, and I thought, I don’t know where he’s been.”

 

Costello and Pérez met at as students at the Academy of Vocal Arts.Costello emphatically pointed to the music departments at their respective public high schools as boosts to their current success. “We were both products of public school systems. We wouldn’t be in this career if we didn’t have strong music departments in the schools that we went to.” Costello and Pérez treated audiences to a musical interlude as did Janai Brugger, winner of the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions who performed “Musetta’s Waltz.”

While the cast and director gave glimpses of the upcoming onstage magic, Director of Production Rupert Hemmings and Technical Director Jeff Kleeman explained the magic that goes on behind-the-scenes. Four forty-foot trucks had arrived with the Parisian garrets. While we see the stars on stage singing arias, the crew behind the scenes works without fanfare to create vast new worlds.

From the fifty core members of the crew to the dressmakers working at the costume shop to tailor the sumptuous costumes (the Simon Boccanegra gowns, for instance, arrived from London and had to be refitted), it is a team effort that results in majestic details of sight and sound. Sitting in one’s opera seat with a lorgnette or binoculars, one does not even fathom the fast-paced complexities, technological systems, and integration of automation. The seemingly invisible hand is what makes the production seamless.

The curtain falls. The audience applauds. But what happens to the sets after the production?

The sets are sometimes flown in twenty-foot airfreights, the largest box a 747 can handle, as was the case with the set of LA Opera’s “The Fly.” A police escort chaperoned the “Il Postino” set upon its arrival in Loredo, Mexico. With all of the international demands on the elaborate sets, it is only natural that an unusual situation may arise. Mr. Hemmings alluded to the mysterious disappearance of a costume container in a Rotterdam harbor. What happened to the gowns? Hemmings surmised that some “well-dressed pirates” now roam the Netherlands streets.

Above and Left, Backstage at LA Opera

 

 


Left, Costume Design for La Bohème



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Cultural Picks- the best of ballet in LA this April

Mikhail Baryshnikov

The choreographer from Black Swan!

This week, LA gets a double-dose of ballet

Enjoy this week’s Cultural Cocktail

Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève

April 13-15

Dorothy Chandler Pavillion

North American premieres of Les Sylphides, Le Spectre de la Rose as well as Amoveo,

Choreographed by Benjamin Millepied, former New York City Ballet principal dancer and choreographer of the award winning film Black Swan.

135 North Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 972-0711

http://www.musiccenter.org

 

In Paris

April 11-21

Adapted from Ivan Bunin Directed by Dmitry Krymov

Performers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Anna Sinyakina

with Maxim Maminov, Maria Gulik and ensemble. The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center. 1310 11th Street  Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310) 434-3200

http://thebroadstage.com/

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Cultural Picks LA: April 7-8

Herb Ritts: L.A. Style

April 3-Aug 26

Getty Center.

West Pavillion

1200 Getty Center Drive.

LA, CA. 90049.

(310) 440-7300

http://www.getty.edu/

 

 

 

Cellist John Walz & Pianist Robert ThiesFree Concert

Sun, April 8th 6 pm

Brahms: Sonata in F major; Debussy: Sonata for Cello & Piano.

Bing Theater. No reservations needed.

LACMA.

5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90036

323 857-6000

http://www.lacma.org

 

 

 

 

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Cultural Pick for LA- weekend of March 30th

APHRODITE and the Gods of Love

opens March 28

Getty Villa. 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA.

(310) 440-7300

http://www.getty.edu/

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