joomla visitor

Young Verdi: Altar Boy


By Leticia Marie Sanchez

      Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered Trademark

In his Book of Musical Anecdotes, Norman Lebrecht relates a revealing incident from Verdi’s childhood.

The seven-year-old Verdi, born into a modest family, once served as an altar boy at the church of Le Rencole. During Fête Day, the young boy heard the organ for the first time. Transported by the emanating musical harmonies, the child did not hear the priest’s request for water. Three times did the priest make his demand, to no avail. Enraged at the child with his head in the clouds, the priest struck a severe blow, pushing young Verdi down the three altar stairs, knocking him into unconsciousness.

When the child thankfully awoke from his ordeal, what was the first thing for which he asked his parents? A painkiller? A glass of water? A restraining order on the belligerent priest?


Young Verdi asked for music lessons.


To learn how an older Verdi handled a brazen opera-goer, please read:

read more

This week in LA: Christie’s Preview of Old Masters Sale



Preview of Old Masters sale

including Masterworks from The Estate of Lila and Herman Shickman

and an Important Private Collection

Christie’s Los Angeles
336 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

January 10–16
Weekdays: 10am – 6pm
Saturday: 12pm – 4pm
Sunday: Closed

Angelenos have a chance to preview works from the estate of Lila and Herman Shickman, in advance of an Old Master sale in New York in May.

A prominent art dealer of the 20th century, Herman Shickman fled Nazi Germany and moved to New York where he dealt Old Master works on paper and still life paintings. Until he retired in 2003, Shickman ran his eponymous gallery on New York’s Upper East Side.

Juan van der Hamen y León’s Still Life with Flowers and Fruit is expected become the most expensive Spanish still life ever auctioned.

For more information, please see:

Image Above: Detail of Juan van der Hamen y León’s (1598-1631) Still Life with Flowers and Fruit. Oil on canvas, 33¼ x 51½ in. (84.5 x 130.8 cm.). Offered in Masterworks from the estate of Lila and Herman Shickman on 2 May 2019 at Christie’s in New York Image: Courtesy of Christie’s

read more

This weekend’s highlight- at the Colburn School: Met Opera Auditions Western Region Finals

zipper-concert-hallMetropolitan Opera National Council


Sunday, January 13, 2019 1 P.M.

200 So. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

TICKETS – Reserve Seating — $40

To order tickets please contact Molly Siefert

email:  phone: 626.437.5944

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers.

Notable past winners include: Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Deborah Voigt, and Sondra Radvanovsky

Photography  © 2018 Leticia Marie Sanchez


read more

2011 Art Crime: Stolen Rembrandt found in Encino Church

This post first appeared in Cultural Cocktail Hour in 2011:

Only three days after a Rembrandt drawing valued at $250,000 was snatched from the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey, “The Judgement,” turned up mysteriously at St. Nicholas of Myra Episcopal Church in Encino. An assistant priest noticed the drawing placed inside his boss’ office. He assumed that it was a donation by a parishioner before recognizing the work as the stolen Rembrandt.

Questions abound:

Why did the art thief dump the painting in the church? Was it a spiritual crisis of conscience? Or a convenient place without security cameras? Did the title of Rembrandt’s drawing, “The Judgement,” give the thief pause?

How did the art thief get access to the church’s inside office? Did he watch Ben Affleck’s heist-caper “The Town” too many times and don a nun disguise?

Do we know for a fact that the drawing dumped in the church is the real Mc Coy? Could it possibly be a copy to get the police off the criminal’s scent while the thief sells the real painting on the black market to a Rembrandt-loving oligarch? (This is one theory on the current location of Rembrandts stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum)

What happened to the person who “distracted” the curator with art chatter on Saturday at the Ritz, coincidentally at the very moment when the painting was snatched? The articles imply that this person was part of a team? Shouldn’t the loquacious interlocutor be an LAPD “person of interest?”

Why did the thief choose to take a Rembrandt from the sailing haven of Marina Del Rey to Encino? He could have made a seaside escape with his looted booty. Is it possible that the art thief is,in fact, a Valley Boy?

Photo from LA Times by Irfan Khan: Detectives handle Rembrandt’s “The Judgement”

read more

George Gershwin and the Parisian Taxi Horns

Thanks to Brian Lauritzen of KUSC for today’s Cultural Trivia!

His show revealed that George Gershwin purchased taxi cab horns in Paris to produce the effect of bustling city streets for American in Paris. The taxi horns were used in the New York premiere of the piece at Carnegie Hall in 1928 with the New York Philharmonic. Since then, orchestras have often rented taxi horns to perform the piece. If you listen to it again, you will be sure to hear the unmistakable honk!


read more

This weekend in LA: CCH Highlight- Zubin Mehta, Yefim Bronfman, and Brahms


This weekend’s Cultural Cocktail recipe includes  a splash of Zubin Mehta, a dash of Yefim Bronfman , and 2 Oz. of Brahms Enjoy!

Former LA Phil director Zubin Mehta returns to conduct the music that started his tenure with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the age of 24: Brahms!

Thurs. Dec 13th 8:00 P.M Brahms Symphony No. 1

Friday Dec 14th 8:00 P.M Brahms Symphony No. 1

Saturday Dec 15th 8:00 P.M Brahms Symphony No. 2

Sun Dec 16th 2:oo P.M Brahms Symphony No. 2

Walt Disney Concert Hall. 111 S. Grand Ave. LA, CA USA 90012 (323) 850-2000


Zubin Mehta Toast at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Opening Night on December 6, 1964.

Photo Credit: LA Philharmonic Archives

read more

Review: Family Day at the Norton Simon “Artful Weaving”


Family Day at the Norton Simon

“Artful Weaving”


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Norton Simon Family Day 3

Family Days at the Norton Simon are always a treat for parents and children, due to a wonderfully engaging formula that packs a two-fold punch: 1) A kid-friendly tour of the latest exhibition 2) A children’s craft project  inspired by the latest exhibition

Norton Simon Family Day 5

Educator Gorman Bentley is a natural with children, with an ebullient personality and insights about art history. He patiently explained the concept of a loom and taught my four year-old to complete his own tapestry. With his friendly spirit, Mr. Bentley welcomed all the children sitting at the tables, making each of them feel included and welcome.

Norton Simon Family Day 6


Following the craft project, Educator Fabrizio Flores took us on a child-friendly the visually arresting new exhibit, “Once Upon a Tapestry: Woven Tales of Helen and Dido.” Flores embodied a perfect balance between playful and informative, showing my son the difference between the cartoon and the tapestries, which happened to be highly informative for me as well!

Kudos to the Norton Simon for creating a space for children to reflect and create!


Photography  © 2018 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Norton Simon Family Day 2

read more

This weekend in LA: Holiday Open House at the Pasadena Museum of History

Pasadena Museum of History

Holiday Open House 

Sunday 12/9

1:00 – 4:00 pm. 

The perfect Cultural Cocktail of Music, Visual Treats, and a Family Craft in a Beaux-Arts style Pasadena Cultural Heritage landmark.

Pasadena Museum of HistoryPasadena Museum History 4

Performances by the Ad Hoc Consort throughout the afternoon. The costumed musicians will perform on a variety period instruments including the Viola da braccio and the Oud, an early form of what became the Lute; and a 16th century German Serpent horn.

In addition to the music the event will include:

refreshments, a family craft, and a visit to the exhibition

Something Revealed; California Women Artists Emerge, 1860-1960.

470 W. Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91103


All Photography from a prior Holiday Open House

© 2018 Leticia Marie Sanchez


Pasadena Museum History 5Pasadena Museum History 3









Photo Below:

Children’s Craft Station at the Pasadena Museum of History’s Holiday Open House

Pasadena Museum History

read more

The Christmas fruitcake fiasco: Puccini versus Toscanini

In her revealing book, Secret Lives of the Great Composers, Elizabeth Lundy described a fruity fiasco between two rivals: opera composers, Giacomo Puccini and conductor Arturo Toscanini:

“During the years of Puccini and Toscanini’s feud, they had very little contact- except for one Christmastime incident. That year Puccini forgot to remove the conductor’s name from the list of friends to whom he sent the traditional Italian holiday gift, a pannetone cake.

When Puccini realized his error, he sent Toscanini a telegram reading:



read more

Autumnal Splendor in Southern California


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” 

- Albert Camus

(at the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, Huntington)

All Photography  © 2018 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Autumn Gold









Huntington Stroll

read more
Page 5 of 57« First...«34567»102030...Last »