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Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: Riviera Gardone, Italy

 Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: Riviera Gardone, Italy

All Photography and text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Lake Garda has long provided a wellspring of inspiration for creative-minded souls, including: Nobel Laureate Paul Heyse, Goethe, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Kafka, and D. H. Lawrence, who once wrote, “The lake is dark blue, purple, and clear as a jewel.”

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Venice Italy Summer 2012- Cultural Cocktail Hour’s Top 3 Picks including exclusive behind-the-scenes video at La Chiesa San Vidal

The Venetian Cultural Cocktail recipe is 2 oz Gothic,  a shot of violins, and an intoxicating golden liquor otherwise known as Gustav Klimt!

Cultural Cocktail Hours Travel Tips for Venetian exhibits

Summer 2012

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography, text, and video © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Pick #1 Interpreti Veneziani

Chiesa San Vidal - 30124 Venezia

These talented, passionate performers interpret Baroque, Classical, and Modern works almost daily at the Chiesa San Vidal. Cultural Cocktail Hour takes you briefly inside the Chiesa San Vidal, named after Doge Vitale Falier.  This now deconsecrated church once never seemed to catch a break. It was rebuilt after the ravaging fires of 1105 and 1696. The new facade, built in the 18th century, housed works by Carpaccio and Piazzetta. Now, the once forsaken church has been revitalized by the music of Interpreti Veneziani. One can hear Vivaldi emanating from the walls, almost every night. Make sure to turn your volume up, so that you can hear the perpetual streaming Vivaldi inside the church!


Pick #2: Diana Vreeland Exhibit at the Palazzo Fortuny 

Closes June 25

Palazzo Fortuny

Campo San Beneto, Venice 

Far from the maddening Murano-goldfish trinket coveting crowd is a quiet palazzo with Gothic touches that Edgar Allen Poe himself could have never imagined.Waxen heads of bloodthirsty criminals peer out from behind glass. A horror film is screened continuously on the ground floor, where one half expects Jack-the Ripper to alight from a creaky beam. Gothic touches juxtapose with the current temporary exhibit on Diana Vreeland, one of the most elegant women of her time.

As the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue magazine and consultant for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ms. Vreeland personified modern chic. And yet, the Gothic vibe flowing through the rest of the museum has its place in the Vreeland exhibit. The Gothic genre revolves around high drama. So do the fantastical costumes. They include: a red cape worn by Marie Callas, an Yves Saint Laurent “Mondrian” Dress, an 18th century Japanese wedding gown, 16th century armor, a Cristobal Balenciaga Black Satin gown with ostrich feathers, Henri Matisse costumes for the Ballet Russes.

The exhibit displayed an ambitious quotation from Ms. Vreeland in her youth:

“Diana was a goddess, 

and I must live up

to that name…

 I dare… 

make myself

exactly how I want to be.”    






Pick #3:

Gustav Klimt in the Sign of Hoffmann and the Secession

Museo Correr. Piazza San Marco, 52

Closing July 8th

Gustav Klimt fans will not want to miss this immersion into the world of the Austrian Symbolist painter. In addition to exploring Klimt’s fruitful collaboration with architect Josef Hoffman, the exhibit focuses on the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk- the integration of architecture, painting, applied arts, and sculpture in shaping modern spaces unified under the concept of “Total Work of Art.” No where is this more apparent than in the glorious “Beethoven Frieze” which was based on Based on Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, specifically Friedrich Von Schiller’s Ode to Joy, which provided inspiration for the fourth movement. The original plan was to destroy the frieze after the 1902 exhibit, resulting in Klimt’s use of cheap materials like buttons and tacks painted on plaster. Thankfully, the Frieze was not tossed aside, and we still have it one hundred and ten years later, in all its golden splendor.

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Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: The Venice Canals…

Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: The Venice Canals..

All Photography © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

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Cultural Cocktail Hour photography from Venice: St. Mark’s Square

Cultural Cocktail Hour photography from Venice: St. Mark’s Square
All Photography © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

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Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: The Windows of Venice…

Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: The Windows of Venice…

All Photography © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

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Video: Cultural Cocktail Hour welcomes you to Venice!

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Cultural Cocktail Hour reports from Paris: Da Vinci’s Saint Anne at the Louvre


The Louvre’s Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci’s Ultimate Masterpiece

ending June 25th

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

For those in Paris, hie thee quickly to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s Ultimate masterpiece, Saint Anne as the temporary exhibit ends June  25. 

Walking through the exhibit is akin to a stroll in Da Vinci’s workshop. An undeniable highlight of the exhibit is the abundance of sketches of the Virgin and Saint Anne that line the walls.

The drawings provide us insight in the mind of the master and the subtle conceptual shifts before he achieved his final result. The Louvre’s exhibit informs us of a Freudian psychoanalytic detail. Born out of wedlock and raised by his father’s new wife, Da Vinci experienced a childhood of two mothers, which could be subconsciously manifested through the dual mother figures of the Virgin and St. Anne

Da Vinci Code-breakers and mystery-minded souls will enjoy exploring the cryptic drawings recently discovered on the back of the painting.  In 2008, Louvre curator Sylvan La Reissiere used infrared photography to reveal the presence of three drawings: a head of horse, a skull, and a child with a lamb.  

Thanks to a massive 2011 Restoration (composed of an international scientific committee of sixteen specialists), the original colors of Da Vinci’s painting have been revealed, including the translucent mauve on St. Anne’s sleeve and the dazzling Lapus Lazuli of the Virgin’s mantle. After the excessive varnish was removed, one can see the delicate shades of light and dark and Da Vinci’s Sfumato technique which rendered the faces of St. Anne and the Virgin sweetly enigmatic.


Finally, the Saint Anne exhibit provides enriching context and evidence of Da Vinci’s lasting influence on the art world.

During the nineteenth century, the Louvre was a forest of easels in which painters like Edgar Degas, Odilon Redon, and Eugène Delacroix would sit with their paintbrushes, studying and copying Da Vinci’s masterpieces.

Left: Odilon Redon, Homage to Leonardo Da Vinci, 1908





One of the most delightful parallels in the comprehensive exhibit:

Bernadino Luini’s Infant Jesus with the Lamb (1500-1524)




That is one little charmer you will not want to miss.


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Cultural Cocktail Hour in Paris: Backstage at Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera, Part II

Backstage at Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera

Part Two

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography and text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Charles Garnier declared, “I have two shows in my opera; one on the stage and one in the theater.” The most prestigious box, that of the emperor, was monitored by bodyguards. Nobles and industrialists had private boxes equipped with a curtain that came in handy for playing cards, ordering food, and engaging in amorous intrigue. On the ground floors stood working professionals, writers, and composers. Ladies were not allowed on the ground floor due to the tight conditions and bumping which resulted in occasional fisticuffs. Only prostitutes stood here as very few ladies in the nineteenth century worked as writers or composers. The very high chicken box nosebleed seats were called Paradise: one was close to heaven but could see nothing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For this beautiful painting on the ceiling of the Paris Opera, Marc Chagall was paid only one Franc.

 Chagall was told that he should have created the work for free, due to the honor of the commission, but Chagall insisted on being paid one franc, out of principle. The canvas pays homage to Mozart, Berlioz, Wagner, Ravel, and Mussorsgsky and is a tribute befitting the moveable feast for the senses at the Le Palais Garnier.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



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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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