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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


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

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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




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.


5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90036

323 857-6000





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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

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LA Cultural Pick: March 23-25

Ballet Preljocaj – Snow White
March 23-25
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  135 North Grand Ave. LA, CA, 90012

With costumes by Jean Paul Gautier and the music of Gustav Mahler, this performance is likely to sell out soon.

For information on tickets, please call (213) 972-0711 or visit

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In the news: Riccardo Muti’s eyes “threw daggers” after fisticuffs erupted at the Chicago Symphony

Ahh.. Brahms..

The music of soothing lullabies, sleeping babies, and…fist fights?

This month, while the illustrious Riccardo Muti conducted Brahms Symphony No. 2 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a young man turned the exclusive box seats into a tawdry Fight Club. The 30-ish man punched a 67-year-old man in the face, in an apparent dispute over the correct proprietor of the box seats.

An ambulance arrived to squire the senior citizen to the hospital, as his face had been cut. The Brahms Brawler fled the scene before police arrived.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Muti flashed “dagger eyes” at the brutish interruption. Maestro Muti was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying, “This was the first time in my more than 40 years of (musical) activity in all parts of the world that such a thing has happened. Never could I imagine the concert hall would become a (wrestling) ring. The irony was that this took place during a program of Brahms. Most of his music was written to express consolation, not aggression.”

“I hope it was not my interpretation that brought this on,” Muti is reported to have said with a smile.

If the fighter became this inflamed during Brahms, imagine how would he would have reacted during Liszt’s Totentanz or Prokoviev’s Scynthian Suite?

For the full report of the fight, please see John Von Rhein’s report in the Chicago Tribune.,0,4806105.column

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Cultural Events LA: Weekend of March 17th

Los Angeles Ballet presents Swan Lake

March 17. 7:30 p.m.

Alex Theatre. 216 North Brand Boulevard.Glendale, CA 91203 310.998.7782




March 17 8:00 PM

Los Angeles Philharmonic. Neeme Järvi, conductor;Mischa Maisky, cello. Dvorák: Carnival Overture; Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Walt Disney Concert Hall. 111 S. Grand Ave. LA, CA USA 90012 (323) 850-2000


Celebrating Norwuz, Iranian New Year at LACMA

Sun. March 18 11:00-7:00 p.m

Program includes: Musical Performances, Calligraphy, Story Reading,and Film Festival.

LACMA. 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90036 tel 323 857-6000


For more information please visit:

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In the news: Art detectives possibly discover lost mural by…Leonardo Da Vinci?


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Art researchers in Florence claim to have found a strong clue that a mural entitled The Battle of Anghiari by  Leonardo Da Vinci lies hidden in a wall of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Art detectives, led by Maurizio Seracini, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, drilled tiny holes in a fresco by Giorgio Vasari which lies on top of what they believe is a work by Da Vinci.

Clue #1: Black Pigment

Using miniature cameras and tiny endoscopic probes, the team has found the proof that they believe links the work to Leonardo: black pigment which matches the exact paint used in Da Vinci’s most famous work, the Mona Lisa.

Clue #2: Mysterious Message

Researchers point to another clue, a message painted on the Vasari work, which lies on top: Cerca Trova,” or “Seek and you shall find.

Is this a hoax?

Critics of the project accuse the researchers of trying to stir up some “Da Vinci Code” publicity. 

Florence’s Mayor says, “Carry on, Detectives!”

However, the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, has declared. “We need the courage to push on and resolve this mystery.” 

What do you think, my fellow Sherlocks?

For the full story, please read:

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Cultural Events LA weekend of March 10


LA. Theatre Works & The James Bridges Theater present a National Theatre Live broadcast

Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors HD film Screening at UCLA

Sun.March 11, 4 pm

Stand up-comedian Lenny Henry stars as Antipholus of Syracuse.
James Bridges Theater. UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television 235 Charles E. Young Dr. LA, CA 90095. For information on purchasing tickets, please call 310-827-0889 or visit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Pianist Abbey Simon performs at LACMA- free concert

Sun.March 11, 6 pm

Mozart: Sonata in A major, K. 331, Liszt: 3 Petrarch Sonnets, Chopin: Impromptus I-III.

No reservations needed. Bing Theater.

LACMA. 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90036 tel 323 857-6000

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In the news: Levitated Mass “Rock star” begins its journey to LACMA


What weighs 340 tons and is the largest rock formation to be moved from two points since the Egyptian pyramid?

No, this is not a leap year prank!

Artist Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass” is making a 105-mile journey to LACMA.

LACMA is even providing a mapped route of the massive boulder’s journey for Angelenos who wish to observe the rock as it travels to its new home at the museum.

Will this very unusual “Rock Star” garner fans? Only time will tell…

For the full story, please read:

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