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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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Cultural Cocktail Hour heading to Paris!

Cultural Cocktail Hour will head to Paris at the end of this Month! (the last week of June)

In the meantime here are some photos from CCH’s 2012 exploration of Paris

All Paris Photography  © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Paris flowers

Paris Memories 2Paris Memories 1Paris memory more

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In the news: Sharks prefer Jazz over Classical Music

 According to a study, Sharks are more responsive to Jazz than to Classical Music.

((No wonder I haven’t seen any sharks sitting next to me when I listen to Brahms...) )

National Geographic News Link:

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/sharks-jazz-music-food-animals-spd/

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In the news: The missing Caravaggio and “the Pizza Connection”

 The missing Caravaggio and the “Pizza Connection”

By Leticia Marie Sanchez

Caravaggio's Nativity

A pilfered painting by Caravaggio has been in the news this month, thanks to an article from Smithsonian magazine that offers new clues to the art mystery. The missing 17th century work, the Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence is on the FBI’s list of Top Ten Art Crimes. The painting was stolen in 1969 from the Oratorio di San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily where it hung above the altar. One theory posits that the painting ended up in the hands of Gaetano Badalamenti, a mobster who spent his last seventeen years in prison as the leader of a “pizza connection” drug trafficking ring.  Other hypotheses include that the painting was gnawed by rats, damaged in a fire, or left in deserted farmhouse.

According to Smithsonian, Gaetano Badalamenti, the mobster who ran the “Pizza Connection” ring showed the painting to an elderly Swiss art dealer. The mobster claims that the Swiss art dealer “sat and cried, and cried” upon seeing the work before rather callously declaring that in order to sell it, he would have to divide the masterpiece into pieces. The spurious Swiss dealer has since passed away, according to commission officials.

(Link to the Smithsonian article: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/former-mobster-offers-clues-search-stolen-caravaggio-180969231/#4rHgKr4tshYwVMEG.99)

However, the most intriguing piece about the missing Caravaggio (from garage.vice.com) contains information from art sleuth Charley Hill who understands the convoluted tapestry of the various parties involved: the gangsters, church officials, the Carabinieri, the Guardia di Finanza.

In this article below, Hill offers us a glimmer of hope:

“I acknowledge that it’s probably a rolled-up cadaver of a Caravaggio, but it’s not destroyed. “

https://garage.vice.com/en_us/article/vb34xd/the-case-of-the-mafia-and-the-stolen-caravaggio

Painting above: Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence, 1609 by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. 

 

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Renoir and Boston

 

Renoir’s “The Seine At Asnieres” reminds me of my boat ride this week at the Boston Public Garden

Renoir

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Alliums in Bloom at the Boston Public Garden

 

Claude Monet — ‘I must have flowers, always, and always” 

Boston Public Garden signBoston Public Garden

Bostob Public Garden

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Cultural Cocktail Hour in Boston

Cultural Cocktail Hour is in Boston,

admiring the flowers in each window in Beacon Hill

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them”-

Henri Matisse

All Photography © 2018 by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Floral WindowFloral Windows 2 Floral 3Floral 4

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Rock on, Gottlieb– the many nicknames of Mozart

First published by Cultural Cocktail Hour in 2011

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

A lecture by Professor Robert Greenberg, from San Francisco Performances, revealed hidden gems about Mozart’s name. Enjoy!

Baptized Name: Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart

The divinely-inspired composer adored word games.

He called himself: Di Mozartini, Mozartus, and Mozarti

 He also enjoyed playing with the letters of his name and called himself:

 Romatz, Trazom, Volfgangus (Latin Version) Gangflow (backwards)

 His middle name, Theophilus, had the most permutations

 His father called him GOTTLIEB because Gottlieb is the German version of Theophilus- “love of God”)

What was Mozart’s personal favorite? 

Amédée, the French version, which he picked up when he lived in Paris.

 He actually never referred to himself as Amadeus!

 (Unless it was a joke, then he would call him self Woolfgangus Amadeus)

Out of respect for Mozart’s preference, someone should have told FALCO to title their 80′s hit Rock Me, Gottlieb.”

or Rock me, Trazom.”

Editor’s Note: For a refresher on the Falco tune in question, check out:

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New Installations at the Getty Villa- *A Must See!*

Getty VIlla 1

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour had the pleasure of visiting the new installations at the Getty Villa. Prior to seeing it firsthand, I honestly wondered how this oasis in Malibu, remodeled after the home of Julius Caesar’s father-in-law, could in any way be improved.

After seeing the results of this massive undertaking, I am a believer.

What now comes to the forefront is art history, the progression of stylistic history that becomes clear on a visceral level. The stylish progression from the very formalized, stiff and archaic works to the explosion of naturalism and expressionism becomes apparent as one walks through the galleries at the Getty Villa.  There’s a logic to the stylistic evolution, and one need not be a connoisseur of art to appreciate the stylistic changes that unfold.

In fact, one striking takeaway is that an artistic neophyte could learn more from a stroll through the Getty Villa galleries that from any textbook. Here are some highlights:

Getty Villa 2

*Works from antiquity that have been in storage on view after many years, or in some cases for the first time!

*A renovated gallery dedicated to the age of Alexander the Great & the Hellenistic World.

  • *A gallery that illustrates “The Classical World in Context” through loans from international museums        
  • *Displays about collector J. Paul Getty                       
  •  *A gallery dedicated to the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum, the lavish Roman home that served as the model for the Getty Villa.

And the image below is not a 2018 mom asking her child to bring her a laptop-

it’s a Greek Gravestone of a Woman with her attendant, about 100 BC!

Getty Villa laptop

 

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Roman Emperor Caligula loved horsing around…

Salvador Dali- Caligula


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

Salvador Dalí s painting, “Le Cheval de Caligula” depicts Incitatus, pampered pony of blood-thirsty Roman emperor Caligula.

The often-violent Caligula became so enraptured with his stallion that he giddily showered him with 18 servants, a marble stable, an ivory manger, rich red robes, and a bejeweled collar. Caligula even made sure that his horse had a lil’ wifey and presented him with the alluring mare Penelope as a bride. The neurotic emperor demanded that everyone bow down to his horse as a god.

No Mueslix or chewy carrots for this horsey. According to Roman historian Suetonius, Caligula’s horse snacked on oats mixed with flex of gold, naturally, and sipped the finest wine from golden goblets. Dignitaries must have clenched their teeth politely when Caligula required that they all sit at the dinner table with the guest of honor, the horse.  But, how could anyone say no? The punishment for daring to disrupt the horse’s beauty sleep before a big race was pain of death. Gulp.

Caligula longed to appoint his beloved horse to the prestigious position of Consul. To be fair, Incitatus was probably no better or worse than some of today’s politicians.

Le Cheval de Caligula (ca. 1971) by Salvador Dalí

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