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Cultural Cocktail Hour in the Tropics the first week of September..

Cultural Cocktail Hour has spent September exploring the Tropics of Ecuador, a vibrant spot for arts and culture. 

This month, none other than actor John Malkovich presented he “Giacomo Variations,”

a chamber opera about the life of famed ladies man, Giacomo Casanova at the Teatro Sanchez Aguilar in Samborondón. Mr. Malkovich was accompanied by the Orchestra of the Vienna Academy. The work was previously presented at the Château de Versailles Spectacles in France.

Photo Below: Teatro Sanchez Aguilar








Cultural Cocktail Hour also explored Guayaquil’s Parque Historico which displays the architecture of early 20th century Guayaquil, as well as exhibiting almost 50 species of birds, animals, and reptiles.

Left: Parque Historico


All Ecuador Photography © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark





Cultural Cocktail Hour returns to California the second week of September,

just in time for the September 15th opening night of LA Opera’s “The Two Foscari” starring Placido Domingo.

Be sure to check on CCH next week for the full review!

Left: Costume Design by Mattie Ulrich

Photo Courtesy of LA Opera.

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Cultural Cocktail Hour’s- Top 3 picks for August in LA

This month’s Cultural Cocktail Hour is 2 oz Audible Feast, 1 oz. Klimt, and a Splash of Zhenya Gershman. Shaken, Not Stirred.


Salastina Society Presents

An Audible Feast

August 12 5:30 P.M

Downtown LA

(Exact location will be shared exclusively with ticket buyers forty-eight hours prior to the event)

Program: Ernst/Irish Traditional: The Last Rose of Summer for Two Violins; Piazzolla: Verano Porteño from The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

Gershwin: Summertime from Porgy and Bess; Vivaldi: Summer from The Four Seasons

For tickets and a link to the four-course menu, please visit:

Photo© Copyright Salastina Society

Gustav Klimt: 
The Magic of Line

July 3- September 23

The Getty Center1200 Getty Center Drive.LA, CA. 90049. (310) 440-7300



Gallerati Society: End of Summer Soirée

Saturday Aug 18th

7:00-9:30 p.m.


In addition to meeting Rembrandt scholar Zhenya Gershman, guests will have the opportunity to tour her home studio, hear about her artistic process, and meet fellow art lovers over wine, hors d’oeuvres, and dessert at the always-scintillating soireés hosted by the fabulous Gallerati Society!

Photo© Copyright Gallerati Society

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Review: Keeping an Audience on its Toes: “Framework” at MOCA- A Must See Production


Keeping an Audience on Its Toes:

“Framework” at MOCA

A Must-See Production

 by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Jean Cocteau once remarked, “The Louvre is a morgue. You go there to identify your friends.” Unlike Cocteau’s bleak categorization of museums, L.A Dance Project illustrated the vibrant possibilities of a living museum through their energetically innovative performance at MOCA on Thursday evening. 

FRAMEWORK at MOCA Grand Avenue, July 19, 2012, photo by Christina Edwards, courtesy of MOCA.


The poignant sounds of the violin emanated from the gallery walls. Benjamin Millepied, former principal dancer of the New York City Ballet and choreographer of the hit film “Black Swan,” danced with Amanda Wells as 17-year old Colburn violinist Mayumi Kanagawa performed movements from Bach’s B Minor Partita and A Minor Sonata.

The aptly named Millepied (his surname translates into “a thousand feet” in French) created a palpable sense of interaction with both the conceptual artwork and the audience. Millepied cleverly staged each movement in a different gallery so that the viewers had to reposition themselves to keep up with the dancers.

FRAMEWORK at MOCA Grand Avenue, July 19, 2012, photo by Christina Edwards, courtesy of MOCA.


The audience moved from an Andy Warhol backdrop to a Rudolf Stingel painting to the finale in front of Mark Bradford’s “Ghosts and Stooges.” Darting from gallery to gallery, the audience was indirectly swept up in the choreography like a modern chorus. The charismatic Millepied further broke down barriers by boldly directing the audience which way to move through the current exhibit (The Painting Factory: Abstraction After Warhol), often with a humorous wave.  The interplay resulted in a unique sensation: we’re all in this together. Thursday evening’s performance brought together teenagers, seniors, schoolchildren, people of all ethnicities, and everyone from John Baldessari to Paul Schimmel and Jeffrey Deitch.

Cultural Cocktail Hour caught up with the MOCA director at Framework. Deitch explained that the collaboration between dance and the visual arts is an endeavor with which he has personally been involved for a long time. He revealed that as soon as Millepied called up him with his vision for L.A Dance Project, the idea took off.

Also in the audience was artist Mark Bradford, whose paintings inspired the choreography. Like a musical brushstroke, a voiceover of Bradford accompanied the dancers, announcing: “Every artist has a tone to his work, just as a musician has a tone.” Moreover, the inherent structure of Bradford’s work, replete with layers and fluid form, wed itself perfectly to Millepied’s choreography as an ideal landscape for the ballet’s finale. A central theme of Bradford’s paintings revolves around the connection between diverse parts and their ever-changing relationship. Similarly, the concept of the Framework involved the dynamic connection between audience and artist. Was the Framework the ever-shifting border of the audience? Was it the classical architecture of Bach’s music or the unraveling, explosive energy of Bradford’s paintings? Was it the dancers themselves?

As L.A Dance Project has two upcoming performances, Angelenos will have the chance to step inside a literal mixed medium and decide for themselves what is the true Framework. 


August 2. August 9.



Photo Below: FRAMEWORK at MOCA Grand Avenue, July 19, 2012, photo by Christina Edwards, courtesy of MOCA.

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Escape from the Doge Palace: Casanova and the buttered Gnocchi


Cultural Cocktail Hour reports from the Secret Passageways of the Doge Palace, Venice.

Escape from Doge Palace: Casanova and the Buttered Gnocchi

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Photography and text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

In typical prison escapes, inmates rely on wires, jackhammers, or drills to plan their bold getaways. Not so for Casanova. The eighteenth century’s infamous Venetian ladies man successfully fled from the Doge Palace thanks to….. a heaping plate of buttered Gnocchi.

Cultural Cocktail Hour visited the Doge Palace’s secret passageways, torture chambers, and gloomy inquisition spaces set up by the Doge’s spies. Our tour guide revealed that although Casanova’s cell was fully furnished (which is how he was able to cook up a plate of Gnocchi), the terror of being sequestered in a space by volatile rulers (who never even told him why he had been dragged to prison in the first place) drove the young womanizer to devise an escape.

Casanova’s first prison break scheme, to merely carve a hole in his cell floor, proved a complete fiasco. So the mischievous schemer began dreaming of a more creative plot involving saucy potato dumplings.

Casanova joined forces with Father Mario Balbi, the prisoner in the cell next door. The Venetian government had imprisoned the aristocratic priest for refusing to disown his illegitimate children. Casanova apparently told his jailer that he wished to offer his priestly neighbor the gift of a homemade dinner. If Casanova put as much attention into hand rolling the potato paste as he did into his notorious lovemaking, the pasta pillows should have come out light and delicious, without a trace of the bland doughiness so typical of amateur chefs.

The key to the Gnocchi scheme was that the huffing-and puffing jailer, who was hunched over as he carried the Super-sized plate of Gnocchi to the priest’s cell, did not bother to inspect the second gift underneath the pasta plate: a Bible containing a metal spike.

Father Balbi received a carb-o-licious dinner and a tool to help him break out of the Doge Palace.

Unfortunately, as Father Balbi was hammering away in the cell next door, a minor glitch in Casanova’s plan developed. The jailer brought Casanova a new cell mate, an intensely religious man named Soradaci to potentially spy on the impish libertine.

Casanova, after observing Soradaci relentlessly pray to the Virgin Mary, declared that-good gracious!- they would soon be witnessing a divine miracle. Casanova tricked Soradaci into believing that the Virgin would be sending the inmates an “angel” to escape the walls of the Doge Palace. Sure enough, an angel, in the form of Father Balbi, appeared in Casanova’s room with the spike, ready to break free. When Casanova asked Soradaci to trim his and Father Babi’s long beards (which had grown like weeds during their time in the slammer) Soradaci became dubious. Grizzled beards did not fit in with Soradaci’s vision of fresh faced cherubim. Although Soradaci did not report Balbi or Casanova (Casanova threatened to strangle him if he squealed), he did not join their brazen escape, either.

So Casanova, with the portly priest hanging from his belt, let himself out of the Doge Palace, thrilled to finally say good-bye to prison life.

Hasta La Pasta!

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Venice Italy Summer 2012- Cultural Cocktail Hour’s Top 3 Picks including exclusive behind-the-scenes video at La Chiesa San Vidal

The Venetian Cultural Cocktail recipe is 2 oz Gothic,  a shot of violins, and an intoxicating golden liquor otherwise known as Gustav Klimt!

Cultural Cocktail Hours Travel Tips for Venetian exhibits

Summer 2012

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography, text, and video © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Pick #1 Interpreti Veneziani

Chiesa San Vidal - 30124 Venezia

These talented, passionate performers interpret Baroque, Classical, and Modern works almost daily at the Chiesa San Vidal. Cultural Cocktail Hour takes you briefly inside the Chiesa San Vidal, named after Doge Vitale Falier.  This now deconsecrated church once never seemed to catch a break. It was rebuilt after the ravaging fires of 1105 and 1696. The new facade, built in the 18th century, housed works by Carpaccio and Piazzetta. Now, the once forsaken church has been revitalized by the music of Interpreti Veneziani. One can hear Vivaldi emanating from the walls, almost every night. Make sure to turn your volume up, so that you can hear the perpetual streaming Vivaldi inside the church!


Pick #2: Diana Vreeland Exhibit at the Palazzo Fortuny 

Closes June 25

Palazzo Fortuny

Campo San Beneto, Venice 

Far from the maddening Murano-goldfish trinket coveting crowd is a quiet palazzo with Gothic touches that Edgar Allen Poe himself could have never imagined.Waxen heads of bloodthirsty criminals peer out from behind glass. A horror film is screened continuously on the ground floor, where one half expects Jack-the Ripper to alight from a creaky beam. Gothic touches juxtapose with the current temporary exhibit on Diana Vreeland, one of the most elegant women of her time.

As the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue magazine and consultant for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ms. Vreeland personified modern chic. And yet, the Gothic vibe flowing through the rest of the museum has its place in the Vreeland exhibit. The Gothic genre revolves around high drama. So do the fantastical costumes. They include: a red cape worn by Marie Callas, an Yves Saint Laurent “Mondrian” Dress, an 18th century Japanese wedding gown, 16th century armor, a Cristobal Balenciaga Black Satin gown with ostrich feathers, Henri Matisse costumes for the Ballet Russes.

The exhibit displayed an ambitious quotation from Ms. Vreeland in her youth:

“Diana was a goddess, 

and I must live up

to that name…

 I dare… 

make myself

exactly how I want to be.”    






Pick #3:

Gustav Klimt in the Sign of Hoffmann and the Secession

Museo Correr. Piazza San Marco, 52

Closing July 8th

Gustav Klimt fans will not want to miss this immersion into the world of the Austrian Symbolist painter. In addition to exploring Klimt’s fruitful collaboration with architect Josef Hoffman, the exhibit focuses on the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk- the integration of architecture, painting, applied arts, and sculpture in shaping modern spaces unified under the concept of “Total Work of Art.” No where is this more apparent than in the glorious “Beethoven Frieze” which was based on Based on Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, specifically Friedrich Von Schiller’s Ode to Joy, which provided inspiration for the fourth movement. The original plan was to destroy the frieze after the 1902 exhibit, resulting in Klimt’s use of cheap materials like buttons and tacks painted on plaster. Thankfully, the Frieze was not tossed aside, and we still have it one hundred and ten years later, in all its golden splendor.

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Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: The Venice Canals…

Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: The Venice Canals..

All Photography © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

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Cultural Cocktail Hour photography from Venice: St. Mark’s Square

Cultural Cocktail Hour photography from Venice: St. Mark’s Square
All Photography © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

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Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: The Windows of Venice…

Cultural Cocktail Hour Photography: The Windows of Venice…

All Photography © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

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Video: Cultural Cocktail Hour welcomes you to Venice!

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Cultural Cocktail Hour reports from Paris: Da Vinci’s Saint Anne at the Louvre


The Louvre’s Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci’s Ultimate Masterpiece

ending June 25th

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

For those in Paris, hie thee quickly to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s Ultimate masterpiece, Saint Anne as the temporary exhibit ends June  25. 

Walking through the exhibit is akin to a stroll in Da Vinci’s workshop. An undeniable highlight of the exhibit is the abundance of sketches of the Virgin and Saint Anne that line the walls.

The drawings provide us insight in the mind of the master and the subtle conceptual shifts before he achieved his final result. The Louvre’s exhibit informs us of a Freudian psychoanalytic detail. Born out of wedlock and raised by his father’s new wife, Da Vinci experienced a childhood of two mothers, which could be subconsciously manifested through the dual mother figures of the Virgin and St. Anne

Da Vinci Code-breakers and mystery-minded souls will enjoy exploring the cryptic drawings recently discovered on the back of the painting.  In 2008, Louvre curator Sylvan La Reissiere used infrared photography to reveal the presence of three drawings: a head of horse, a skull, and a child with a lamb.  

Thanks to a massive 2011 Restoration (composed of an international scientific committee of sixteen specialists), the original colors of Da Vinci’s painting have been revealed, including the translucent mauve on St. Anne’s sleeve and the dazzling Lapus Lazuli of the Virgin’s mantle. After the excessive varnish was removed, one can see the delicate shades of light and dark and Da Vinci’s Sfumato technique which rendered the faces of St. Anne and the Virgin sweetly enigmatic.


Finally, the Saint Anne exhibit provides enriching context and evidence of Da Vinci’s lasting influence on the art world.

During the nineteenth century, the Louvre was a forest of easels in which painters like Edgar Degas, Odilon Redon, and Eugène Delacroix would sit with their paintbrushes, studying and copying Da Vinci’s masterpieces.

Left: Odilon Redon, Homage to Leonardo Da Vinci, 1908





One of the most delightful parallels in the comprehensive exhibit:

Bernadino Luini’s Infant Jesus with the Lamb (1500-1524)




That is one little charmer you will not want to miss.


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