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Verdi: A bold request

Verdi: A bold request

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

The following correspondence in the form of abridged letters between Giuseppe Verdi and one very unusual opera-goer, Prospero Bertani:

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Much Honoured Signor Verdi,       Reggio, May 7, 1872

On the second of this month, attracted by the sensation which your opera Aida was making, I went to Parma. Half an hour before the performance began I was already in my seat, No.120. I admired the scenery, listened with great pleasure to the excellent singers, and took pains to let nothing escape me. After the performance was over, I asked myself whether I was satisfied.  The answer was “No.”

I returned to Reggio, and on the way back in the railroad carriage, I listened to the verdicts of my fellow travelers. Nearly all of them agreed that Aida was a work of the highest rank.

Thereupon I conceived a desire to hear it again, and on the fourth returned to Parma. I made the most desperate effort to obtain a reserved seat, and there was such a crowd that I was obliged to throw away five lire to see the performance in comfort.

I arrived at this decision: it is an opera in which there is absolutely nothing which causes any enthusiasm or excitement, and without the pomp of the spectacle, the public would not stand it to the end.  When it has filled the house two or three times, it will be banished to the dust of the archives.

Now, my dear Signor Verdi, you can imagine my regret at having spent on two occasions 32 lire for these two performances. Add to this the aggravating circumstance that I am dependent on my family, and you will understand that this money troubles my rest like a terrible spectre. Therefore I address myself frankly and openly to you, so that you may send me the amount.

Here is the account:

Railroad: One way 2.60 lire;  Railroad: Return trip 3.30 lire;  Theater 8.00 lire  Detestable dinner at the station 2.00 lire

=15.90 lire Multiplied by 2=  31.80 lire

In the hope that you will extricate me from this embarrassment, I salute you from the bottom of my heart

BERTANI

My address: Bertani, Prospero; Via San Domenico No. 5

Verdi’s reply, addressed to his publisher Ricordi                                     May, 1872

As you may readily imagine, in order to save this scion of his family from the spectres that pursue him, I shall gladly pay the little bill he sends me. Be so kind, therefore, as to have one of your agents send the sum of 27 lire, 80 centesimi to this Signor Prospero Bertani, Via San Domenico No. 5. True, that isn’t the whole sum he demands, but for me to pay his dinner too would be wearing the joke a bit thin. He could perfectly well have eaten at home. Naturally, he must send you a receipt, as well as a written declaration that he promises never to hear another one of my new operas, so that he won’t expose himself again to the danger of being pursued by spectres, and that he may spare me further travel expenses!

 ——————————–

What Mr. Bertani did not realize was that Mr. Verdi encouraged his publisher to publish the correspondence in newspapers far and wide.

So, the tables soon turned. The one receiving hate mail was Mr. Bertani. He received vitriolic letters from all over the nation.  His prophecy about AIDA gathering “dust” also backfired. AIDA has become one of the most popular operas of all time.

___________

Verdi’s letters were discussed in a vivid lecture by Professor Robert Greenberg, P.H.D. How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition. Part 5 of 6. Lecture 38: 19th Century Italian Opera, Giuseppe Verdi.

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This weekend in LA: Cultural Events May 29-31st

A Model for Matisse (2006)

Model for MatisseFri May 29 7:00 p.m.

Norton Simon Museum. 411 W Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91105. (626) 449-6840

Illustrious 20th-century artist Henri Matisse forms a rapport with French Dominican nun Sister Jacques-Marie, the inspiration behind his last creation, the Chapelle du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary) in Vence, France. Barbara Freed, Professor of French and Applied Linguistics at Carnegie Mellon, directed this documentary film. 67 minutes.

www.nortonsimon.org

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Willam Shakespeare’s Cymbeline

Opens May 31

Sundays at 3:30 pm

May 31 through September 27

Directed by Ellen Geer.

The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum*1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.

Topanga CA, 90290

(310) 455-3723 or www.theatricum.com

*The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is an outdoor amphitheater. Audience members are advised to dress casually (warmly for evenings) and bring cushions for bench seating. Snacks are available at the Hamlet Hut, and picnickers are welcome before and after the performance.

BrubakerHaydn Celebration No. 5 “Haydnseek” Sunday May 31. 6 pm.

The New England Conservatory’s Bruce Brubaker celebrates the anniversary of Haydn’s passing (May 31, 1809), with 2 Haydn works: Sonata No. 52 in G major, Hoboken XVI/39, and Sonata in C major, Hob.XVI/50, with live electronic sounds by Laura Karpman &Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum. Bing Theater. Free. No reservations

LACMA. 5905 Wilshire Blvd. L.A., CA 90036.

http://www.lacma.org/

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Theater Review-So Farce, So Good at the ICT

So Farce, So Good:

 Mark Twain’s “Is He Dead?” at the International City Theater, Long Beach    

by Leticia Marie Sanchez       

Cultural Cocktail Twain

Mark Twain may be dead, but his work can still elicit quite a brouhaha. The hilarious West Coast premiere of “Is He Dead?” directed by Shashin Desai at the ICT proves that laughter remains the best medicine. 

If it were not for the Shelley Fisher Fishkin, the mirth-filled play may not have seen the light of day. Dr. Fishkin, Professor of English and Director of the American Studies of program at Stanford University, discovered Twain’s manuscript in the archives of UC Berkley’s Bancroft Library in 2002. Never produced during Twain’s lifetime, the play debuted in New York in 2007 and this month in Long Beach.

Upon entering the International City Theater, one sets eyes on the vivid and visually rich set designed by Stephen Gifford. Beautifully rendered replicas of Jean-Francois Millet’s paintings grace the artist’s atelier, easing the audience into the world of 19th century Barbizon, France. Mark Twain, author of “Roughing It,” and former gold prospector, entered the European world himself during the 1860’s and the 1890’s. Much of the play’s comedy derives from Twain’s juxtaposition of  the slapstick humor of the American West with the European sensibility of his cast of characters. The protagonist, French painter Jean-Francois Millet, determined to cast off the “starving” in Starving Artist, becomes embroiled in a scheme to fake his own death in order to drive up the value of his work.

The ICT cast spiritedly brings Twain’s comedy to life. Perry Ojeda, poised and dignified as the illustrious artist Millet, turns into a bumbling live wire when disguised as Millet’s buxom and zany “sister” Daisy Tillou. In addition to Ojeda, many of the actors reveal multiple facets of their personalities, creating hilarity. Even before he opens his mouth, Joe Fria, portraying a pompous British art collector, leaves the audience in stitches with his idiosyncratic walk. Later, Fria plays the King of France in one of the play’s zaniest moments, a scene involving a fetid piece of Limburger cheese. Jules Hartley also shines as a chameleon, transforming from the dulcet French lady Cecile Leroux into a mustachioed French gendarme whose eyes throw daggers of rage. The entire ensemble keeps Twain’s zingers flying at breakneck speed.

Twain’s play exposes the hypocrisy of a society that often values artists more in death than life. Vermeer and Van Gogh are but two of many artists who  lived in considerable poverty although their paintings today bring art dealers astronomical profits,approaching triple digit millions. Twain skewers this injustice, turning what could have been a tragedy into a pleasing melodramatic comedy. It is fitting that Twain once enjoyed life as a gold prospector, because in the esoteric archives of the Berkeley library Dr. Fisher discovered a nugget of comic gold.

Last remaining performances: 8pm Saturday May 23;  2 pm Sunday May 24th

International City Theater. Long Beach Performing Arts Center. 300 E. Ocean Boulevard. Long Beach.

ICT Box Office: (562) 436-4610.   www.ictlongbeach.org

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Cultural Events LA: May 20-24

Traviata

La Traviata  by Giuseppe Verdi Opening Night

Thur. May 21. 7:30 p.m.

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

www.losangelesopera.com

 

 

 

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La Sylphide

Los Angeles Ballet

Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, Artistic Directors;

Freud Playhouse, UCLA: Sat. May 23: 7:30 p.m;

Sun. May 24th 2 pm;

405 Hilgard Ave.,Westwood

Alex Theatre Glendale; Sat. May 30, 7:30 p.m

216 North Brand Blvd. Glendale, CA 91203

For more information call: 310.477.7411

www.losangelesballet.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson: Literary Giant of the 18th Century

Opens May 23

Library, West Hall.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

1151 Oxford Road San Marino, CA  91108

626.405.2100

http://www.huntington.org/

 

                                                                                                                                                                   

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Rossini’s La Cenerentola – Live in HD from the MET

Encore performance.

Wed. May 20 7 p.m.

Starring Elina Garanca.

AMC Santa Anita. 400 S. Baldwin Ave. Arcadia, CA. 91007

626-321-4270

For more information about participating movie theatres visit:

www.metoperafamily.org

 

 

Verdo Otello

Verdi’s Otello

Salzburg Festival.

Thurs. May 21. 7:30 P.M

Laemlle’s Playhouse 7.

673 East Colorado Boulevard. Pasadena, CA, 91101.

626.844.6500

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FREE PUBLIC CONCERT: Wed. May 20th 6:45 p.m

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Performance by Principal Artists of

Camerata Pacifica

& Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W Temple St LA, CA 90012

Boyce; Symphony Nº1 in B Flat Major, Opus 2; Bach; Concerto for Oboe & Violin in D Minor, BWV 1060

Vivaldi; Concerto for 4 Violins, Opus 10 Nº3; Bach; Brandenburg Concerto Nº4 in G Major, BWV 1049

You must reserve your tickets online.

http://www.cameratapacifica.org/

Or call: 805-884-8410

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Cultural Events Los Angeles: weekend of May 16th-17th

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Da Camera Society: Presenters of Chamber Music in Historic Sites

Sat. May 16 8 pm

Doheny Mansion. 8 Chester Place, LA, CA, 90007.

Colorado String Quartet.

Mozart, Oboe Quartet in F, K. 370; Samuel Barber, Quartet in b, Op. 11;  L. Boccherini, Oboe Quintet in C, Op. 45, No. 1; F. Schubert, Quartet in d, D. 810, “Death and the Maiden.”

http://www.dacamera.org/

213.477. 2929

 
Galileo-sustermans

Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht

Theater Arts at Caltech

Sun, May 17: 7:00 PM

Performances will be held outdoors at the Gates Patio, on the North side of Building #26

California Institute of Technology. 332 South Michigan Ave.,Pasadena, CA

(626) 395-4652

http://events.caltech.edu/

 

Jain NS

On the Enlightened Path:

Jain Art from India

Norton Simon Museum of Art. 411 W. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91105 (626)449.6840

http://www.nortonsimon.org/

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Cultural Events LA: May 9th and 10th

fresh_art

MOCA Fresh Silent Auction.

The museum’s popular biennial fundraising event features over 250 artworks by established and emerging artists from all over the world. All proceeds support MOCA’s contemporary art programming.

Sat. May 9th.  7–11pm

Food, Drinks, and Music. DJ Rashida. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. 152 North Central Ave. LA, CA 90013

For information about tickets, call 213. 633. 5381

http://www.moca.org/ 

cameron_carpenter

Cameron Carpenter

Sun. May 10, 4:00 PM

Hollywood United Methodist Church. 6817 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90028

http://www.cameroncarpenter.com/    

 

 

 

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The Colburn Chamber Orchestra


Sun. May 10th 6 pm

Ronald Leonard, conductor, performs Geminiani: Concerto Grosso in C minor, Opus. 2, No. 2, Copland: Two Pieces for String Orchestra and Hoedown from Rodeo, Bartok: Rumanian Folk Dances, and Glasunov: Suite for Strings. Bing Theater | Free, no reservations

LACMA. 5905 Wilshire Blvd. L.A., CA 90036

http://www.lacma.org/

 

 

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Cultural Events LA: May 1- May 3

frame_350x300_pompeiiOpening this weekend

Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples

May 3–October 4, 2009.

LACMA. 5905 Wilshire Blvd. L.A., CA 90036

Pompeii and the Roman Villa is a specially ticketed exhibition. Purchase tickets online or by calling 877.522.6225.

 http://www.lacma.org/

 

 

is-he-dead_1_sm Is He Dead?  The West Coast unveiling of a newly discovered play by American humorist Mark Twain. A fledgling artist concocts a scheme to fake his own death in order to increase the value of his paintings.

Adapted by David Ives; Directed by Shashin Desai

May 1-  May 24      

Thurs. at 8 pm; Fri. at 8 pm; Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 2 pm:

International City Theatre. Long Beach Performing Arts Center. 300 East Ocean Blvd. Long Beach CA 90802

(562) 436-4610 or www.ictlongbeach.org

 

 

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Ballet Preljocaj: LES 4 SAISONS

A Choreographic Version of Vivaldi’s Monumental Music

May 1-2, 8pm

 UCLA Live’s Royce Hall.340 Royce Drive LA, CA 90095

For tickets visit www.UCLALive.org, call 310-825-2101, or contact Ticketmaster. 

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Review: Immortality Through Art

Immortality through Art

 By Leticia Marie Sanchez

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Live Forever

Mr. Electrico to Ray Bradbury

 

Let baser things devise 

To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:

My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,

And in the heavens write your glorious name

Edmund Spenser, Sonnet 75

 

Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

 William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

 

Nestled in the hillside of Pasadena, among its beautiful views, which the Spanish dubbed Linda Vistas, exists a gem, American Legacy Fine Arts. Some of the artists represented at this gallery include Peter Adams, Béla Bácsi, Jeremy Lipking, Jove Wang, Aaron Westerberg, and Alexey Steele. American Legacy Fine Arts weds American contemporary art with classical standards.

Sculptor Christopher Slatoff, for instance, epitomizes the synthesis between classical technique and modern narrative. A piece that incarnates this fusion is Fr. Electrico, a complex and stirring sculpture that captures a life-changing moment in the young life of writer Ray Bradbury.

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The sculpture’s form, a clear allusion to Michelangelo’s Pieta, firmly anchors it in history, while its innovative subject matter, an imagination set ablaze, give it wings to soar into the future. Just like the Virgin Mary clasps her son in a gentle embrace, Mr. Bradbury’s father tenderly cradles his twelve-year old son on the walk home from a long day at two different circuses. The father’s composition has a two-fold meaning: the front view represents Bradbury’s literal father, while the back view reveals a figurative father, Father Electrico. At the circus, the young Bradbury felt a shock in the form of a mildly charged metal wand that Mr. Electrico, a carnival magician, placed on his forehead, causing the boy’s hair to stand on end. During this life-changing moment, Mr. Electrico exclaimed, “Live forever.” The very next day Ray Bradbury began writing and has never stopped. The symbols on the back of Father Electrico: astronauts, firemen and lions, represent images from Ray Bradbury’s writing, images which have touched millions of readers around the world.

Art functions as a kaleidoscope, a constantly shifting lens through which we can alternatively glimpse the past and the future. Whether the life of Christ, the masterpieces of Michelangelo, or the futuristic dimension of Fahrenheit 451, art allows us to explore life’s mysteries. Art allows its creators to live in an eternal realm.  The connections between Fr. Electrico and Michelangelo’s Pieta go deeper than formal similarities. Like Christ, Ray Bradbury will achieve immortality. Like Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare, Mr. Bradbury, through the written word, will live forever. The work of writers, sculptors, painters, and composers live on through generations and, sometimes, civilizations.

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives Art, which gives eternal life to the artists, and nourishment to all of us who have been touched by its grace.

Fr. Electrico, by Christopher Slatoff is currently on view at:

American Legacy Fine Arts, LLC. 949 Linda Vista Avenue. Pasadena, CA. 91103. (626) 577.7733

Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Friday by Appointment; Saturday: 11 a.m- 5 p.m

http://www.americanlegacyfinearts.com/

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Cultural Events LA April 24-26

l_39821bcecc6a9ffe5b240b794d1999d5Slumgum:  April 24th: 8-10 p.m

Café Metropol. 923 E. 3rd. Street, Los Angeles

Slumgum weaves elements of jazz, free improvisation, world music, and contemporary classical music.

Free

www.slumgummusic.com

 

ensembleHarmonia Baroque Players

Sunday, April 26, 2009, 4:00 p.m. Oneonta Congregational Church. 1515 Garfield Avenue. South Pasadena, CA 91030

Sonata in B-flat Major, Johann Friedrich Fasch; Sheep May Safely Graze, J. S. Bach;Why Should Men Quarrel?Henry Purcell; Sonnerie de Ste-Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris, Marin Marais;  Nell Dolce Dell’Oblio,  George Frideric Handel;  Trio Sonata in D minor,  Jean Baptiste Loeillet; Jauchzet Dem Herrn; Christoph Bernhard

(714) 970-8545

http://www.harmoniabaroque.org/

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