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Sneak Peak: Haunted House Party, A Roman Comedy at the Getty Villa

by Leticia Marie Sanchez                  

Getty Villa Press luncheon 1

This week’s Cultural Cocktail preview:

1 shot of Antiquity, a Highball of Hijinks, and A Splash of Stilts.

Stepping onto the sumptuous grounds of the Getty Villa feels like being transported via time machine to antiquity. After all, the architectural design was inspired by the Villa dei Papiri, the treasure trove of Julius Caesar’s father-in law. 

Even Caesar (when he wasn’t being stabbed in the back) enjoyed a chuckle or two.


And chuckles are on the menu at the Getty Villa in a few weeks. 

This fall, director Matt Walker and the Troubadour Theater Company will provide a colorful facelift to material from 2oo B.C,  ”A Haunted House Party,” based on Mostellaria by Roman playwright Plautus.

Getty Villa Haunted House Party

CCH spoke with Costume designer, Sharon McGunigle on her designs.

Madcap troubadours will be singing, dancing, and possibly walking on stilts.

The costumes need to be “Troubie-proof.” Moreover, the actors during Plautus’ time were an itinerant, motley crew hailing from across the Empire- not necessarily Roman- so don’t expect a sea of white togas. 

Mc Gunigle used the silhouette of the era, while looking at the Etruscan Era and the Byzantine Era for nuance and embellishment.

Look out for dazzling costumes in the dance sequences!



On the set, wagons to transport traveling troubies to their next production.

Roman Stilt-walkers: break a leg!

G v stage


Tune in to Cultural Cocktail Hour in September for a review of the production.


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Ticket to Nirvana- Buddhist Replica Caves at the Getty Center

By Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road

Exhibit Closes on September 4, 2016

Stepping into one of the Buddhist Replica Caves at the Getty Center- away from the never-ending traffic, unrelenting tragedy in the news, and ceaseless summer political diatribes- feels like a welcome taste of Nirvana.

cave 4

buddha 1











Standing inside one of these exquisitely crafted jewel boxes, one can almost levitate- at least mentally- with the flights of fancy inspired by visions of colorful mountains, praying bodhisattvas, and winged spiritual beings that grace the ceiling.

The Getty’s Julia Grimes provided enlightening details about the replica caves, modeled after caves on China’s Silk Road, some dating back to the 4th century. Grimes explained that at the time the caves were first designed, Buddhism was a new religion, present for only 200 years. Therefore, in order to make the religion palatable to new devotees, the artists co-opted other figures into the Buddhist narrative, including Hindu deities and traditional aristocratic Chinese architecture. (Similarly early Christian art co-opted familiar ancient Greek and Roman iconography, such as the image of the wine, Bacchus, and the lamb, a pastoral image of Arcadia, in order to convert new followers). The multicultural images inside the replica caves parallel the vast diversity of China’s Silk Road, a truly global trading route.

Centuries ago, pilgrims entered these “Magao” (peerless) caves on the Western edge of the Gobi desert for a plethora of reasons. Practically minded travelers on the Silk Road perhaps stepped inside as a refuge from the sun. But spiritually minded pilgrims prayed to the Buddha to usher in a new “Kalpa,” or era. The faithful believed that after a period of darkness, Buddha could introduce a new era of light for humanity. Wandering through the replica caves at the Getty Center, I confessed that I also harbored the hope that a bright new Kalpa looms just around the corner.

cave 2

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Angels Vocal Art: A refreshing dose of opera in the summer


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Gala programsDuring the summer, many LA opera lovers may feel pangs of withdrawal, the sense that autumn is too many weeks away to wait for the thrill of hearing an aria live. Cultural Cocktail Hour has discovered a cure for those craving an opera fix. Angels Vocal Art represents the only opera festival in Los Angeles this summer and last weekend presented the Gran Gala di Verdi at the State Playhouse Theater. Angels Vocals Arts allows emerging singers to perform alongside opera professionals, and on Saturday night, young students poured their hearts and souls into the works of the timeless maestro, Giuseppe Verdi.

Moreover, the Verdi Chorus anchored the evening with the solemnity of seasoned performers. I will leave you with the resounding motto of the Verdi Chorus, included in the evening’s program:

We are The judgment of Egyptian priests/The voice of revelers on a Christmas Eve in Paris/ The outcry of slaves in bondage /The song of all the angels in heaven/ The weeping of exiles in Civil War/ The Sound the Sun makes at dawn /The Curses, the Rage /The Madness, The Glory /We are the voices of Beethoven And Strauss and Puccini and Wagner/ We are the music of the Human Heart in Love/ We are the Verdi Chorus

Listening to passionate young students honing their craft is as refreshing as a Mint Julep in July, one that can leave you shaken and stirred, a bona fide cultural cocktail.


Verdi Gala 1

Angels Vocal Art singers

Gran Gala di Verdi

State Playhouse Theater

Photo Credit: Ben Gibbs



Verdi Gala 2

The Verdi Chorus

conducted by Kristof Van Grysperre

Gran Gala di Verdi

Photo Credit: Ben Gibbs



For more information on upcoming performances by Angels Vocal Art, see:

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In honor of World Music Day today- June 21st

 Seen on a Pillow in Los Angeles:


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Photos: Season Finale- Salon de Musiques: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion


Photos taken at the Season Finale of the Salon De Musiques at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion  

Salon 2

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Music has a healing power, and, in the wake of tragedies in the headlines, I felt particularly hopeful after listening to the uplifting program by Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, and Robert Schumann at the Salon De Musiques Season Finale on June 12th.

As Thomas Carlyle once remarked, music “leads us to the edge of the infinite, and lets us for a moment gaze into that.”

Through the talented direction of Founder Francois Chouchan, the Salon embodied the restorative capacity and deep humanity of a language that needs no words. 


Salon 1


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In the news: Flooding near the Louvre



Photo outside Louvre

Copyright© 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Venice de Milo surrounded by storage boxes.

Twenty feet of water rising from the Seine.

Due to the past week’s flooding in Paris, curators moved many of the Louvre’s antiquities to safety. According to the New York Times, Some 150,000 artworks in storage rooms, and an additional 7,000 pieces in galleries, were deemed vulnerable to flooding, and many of them were moved to higher floors starting on Thursday evening.”

 For the full scoop, see the NY TIMES article:

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Wise Men and Women: Pablo Picasso


“The meaning of life is to find your gift


The purpose of life is to give it away.”

           -Pablo Picasso-

Photo Credit: André Villers

La Guerre et la Paix Chapel of Vallauris Castle 1953 

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In the news: “One of the World’s Greatest Art Collections hides behind this fence”

Treasures from Ancient Rome, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, 1,000 works by Picasso,

and this exquisite painting from Gustav Klimt:


“Water Serpents II,”





For the full scoop, read the NY TIMES article:

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“Duchamp to Pop”- A Must-See Exhibit


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered Trademark

This week’s Cultural Cocktail Hour involves a Pinch of Parody, a Dose of Double Entendre, and a Highball of Warhol- Bottom’s Up!

“Duchamp to Pop” is a must-see exhibit in Southern California due to the wit of Marcel Duchamp and his influence on the Pop Art Movement.

CCH loves any exhibit where you can unleash your inner art detective; “Duchamp to Pop” lends itself to peeling back layers of culture and indulging in wordplay and irony.

Cheeky puns are the name of the game. For instance, when one usually thinks of the Mona Lisa, one imagines crowds of tourists lining up to see a dignified work encased behind glass, vigilantly guarded by museum security.

Quite to the contrary, Marcel Duchamp’s mischievous Mona Lisa, La Joconde, bears an absurd mustache, and the letters L.H.O.O.Q. When read aloud, they form the French Phrase, “Elle a chaud au cul,” a risqué commentary on this fine lady’s posterior.



Don’t laugh at my mustache.

I dare you.

 A second word game in the exhibit involves Duchamp’s signature: Rrose Sélavy, a pun which evokes the French phrase: “Eros, c’est la vie,” or “Eros, that’s life.”

What does it mean when we gaze upon a mustachioed Mona Lisa? Simply, that we need not take Art, nor ourselves for that matter, so seriously. Art should not signify untouchable pieces on museum walls, but rather, the creativity that we can engender in our daily lives.

The humor and parody continue chronologically in the exhibit with Pop Artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol’s Brillo Pads, and Pop Art in general, exposed the mass marketing that dominated the post-war era.

An Andy Warhol Soup Can sold originally sold for a measly $100.  Now these cans can be found in the purview of princes and oligarchs. (Warhol’s “Silver Car Crash” sold in 2013 for $105 million).

A bit ironic, that a movement that exposed American dependence on brands, had at its helm, an artist, Andy Warhol, who, himself became a brand. The reason that Warhol’s paintings can command stratospheric sums (and other artists cannot), is because of the name recognition. Like a Rolls Royce or a Patek Phillipe, a work by Warhol has clearly recognizable brand, and thereby, status significance.

The works of the Pop Artists embody parody and satire. Through this movement, we can chuckle at wordplay and irony. And Andy Warhol could laugh all the way to the bank.

d__images_P1969094L.H.O.O.Q. or La Joconde, 1964 (replica of 1919 original)

Colored reproduction, heightened with pencil and white gouache, Edition of 35, No. 6 (Arturo Schwartz edition)

comp: 10-1/4 x 7 in. (26.0 x 17.8 cm); sheet: 11-3/4 x 7-7/8 in. (29.8 x 20.0 cm)

Norton Simon Museum P.1969.094. Image Courtesy of Norton Simon.


d__images_P196906208Campbell’s Soup I: Black Bean

1928-1987 Silkscreen on paper 35-1/2 x 23-1/8 in. (90.2 x 58.7 cm)

Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase, 1969 P.1969.062.08. Image Courtesy of Norton Simon.


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Wise Man: Marcel Proust

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.


 Marcel Proust 


Marc Chagall

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