joomla visitor

Wise Woman: Sarah Bernhardt

  “Life begets life.

  Energy creates energy.

  It is by spending oneself

 That one becomes rich.”

         Sarah Bernhardt 

read more

The real reason Jane Austen’s ladies looked forward to courtly dances


The vertical expression


a horizontal desire

legalized by music.”

~George Bernard Shaw

read more

Theater Review: Under Bacchae’s spell- a MUST SEE production at the Getty Villa

Under Bacchae’s Spell


Leticia Marie Sanchez

The first few moments of Euripides’ Bacchae at the Getty Villa set the tone for the entire evening. Screaming Jay Hawkins’ raw, electrifying 1956 blues hit “I Put a Spell on You” plays in the outdoor theater, jolting the audience as the spartanly dressed Bacchanalian chorus emerges from classical columns. Their fearless leader Dionysus, the god of theater, wine, and divine ecstasy, is played with hypnotic magnetism by Ellen Lauren, who struts onto the stage in red leather pants like Mick Jagger on fire.

Through the direction of Anne Bogart from the New York-based SITI Company, one cannot help but be gripped. Euripides’ Bacchae is heavy material, but Bogart skillfully unearths comedic gems, Bacchanalian beats, and horrific depths so that within 90 minutes, the audience is at turns highly entertained and terrified.

Bogart’s direction uses a theatrical chiaroscuro, juxtaposing shades of light and dark, offering moments of hilarity to contrast with moments when the narrative plummets into the abyss. Bogart’s direction is successful because it allows the audience to understand how a character like Dionysus can so easily seduce legions of followers with playful tones, before revealing his sinister, vengeful side.


Ellen Lauren as Dionysus is a revelation, reeling us in with her massive charisma and verbal and physical prowess. Lauren’s voice and body dance through the prose of fourth century B.C, making it come alive for an audience in 2018. The pulsing beats of Darron West’s sound design enhance the atmosphere, the music complementing the text so that audience feels as though we are sitting at a Bacchanalian rave.

Bacchae” at the Getty Villa. Photo by Craig Schwartz. Left to Right: Eric Berryman (Pentheus) and Ellen Lauren (Dionysus)

Other elements of the production also bring the themes to the forefront. The set is sparse as are the costumes, save for a few colorful flourishes like Cadmus’ Hawaiian shirt and Tiresias’ and floral fishing hat. The simplicity of the design provides a sharp relief to the intensity of the emotional impact of Bacchae. This ensures that the audience will not be distracted from the onslaught of emotions onstage.  The cornerstone of this production is the stellar cast, including Ellen Lauren and Eric Berryman, who despite being a villain, cannot help but be likeable even when he is indignant as Thebes’ hubris-filled ruler Pentheus. Leon Ingulsrud also draws us in when he, as the First Messenger, conveys the eerie Bacchanalian rites.

After one of the most horrifying events, Agave, mother of brutally butchered Pentheus has not grasped what has happened. In this scene, she speaks entirely in Japanese. The Director’s Addendum notes that theater “transcends language.” But, I would posit a second benefit to this unusual directing choice. Agave (played by Akiko Aizawa) at this moment, stands in her own world. This scene showcases dramatic irony at its finest. The audience knows exactly what has happened and longs to reach out to Agave, but she simply doesn’t get it. Her use of another language conveys that she stands apart in her own dimension, her own reality.

Another unusual and effective choice is the casting of Dionysus as a woman. One theme of the play is the dangerous irrationality that men fear in women. In fact, Pentheus’ downward spiral begins when he hears that his own mother has taken part in Bacchanalian rites. The Madonna/Whore dichotomy rears its ubiquitous head; unable to envision his mother this way, Pentheus, in front of the audience, begins to have a mental breakdown. Therefore, having Ellen Lauren personify the dangerous potential attributed to women makes perfect sense in the context of the play.

In the last scene, Dionysus emerges donning a Janitor costume as he sops up the bloody murderous mess. Why the Janitor gear? Dionysus warns the audience that the supernatural comes in many shapes. Perhaps a suggestion to be careful whom you insult. Do not disparage someone whom you consider to be low-status (as happened to Dionysus before he meted out the supreme revenge).

bacche2_webDespite this potentially good message, the play could have more effectively ended with the prior scene.The comedic last scene of Dionysus dressed like a sitcom janitor and Cadmus flopping on his belly like a serpent undercuts the emotional impact. It does not allow us to fully process the sickening horror we have just witnessed. We need time to wallow in this chilling tragedy. The penultimate scene is like a horror film. Cutting the last scene entirely and ending on that dark note would allow the audience to walk out of the theater with maximum emotional impact.


Bacchae” at the Getty Villa. Photo by Craig Schwartz. Left to right: Akiko Aizawa (Agave) and Stephen Duff Webber (Cadmus).

However, Anne Bogart’s production of Bacchae at the Getty Villa is a must-see production to the charismatic cast, creative direction, and mesmerizing design elements.

Bacchae by Euripides

September 6-29, 2018

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8:00 p.m.

The Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa

read more

Henri Matisse- Don’t touch the fruit!


Leticia Marie Sanchez

According to Kathleen Krull, in her book “Lives of the Artists,” Henri Matisse subsisted on a strict diet of rice-only when he first started out as a painter.

Not Rice-A-Roni.

Just plain boiled rice.

Matisse refused to even allow himself to indulge in the luscious fruit that he bought for his still life paintings.

Instead, he saved that fruit for his art.

And for us. 


Henri Matisse, Still Life with Oranges. 1899 

Editor’s Note: Matisse eventually became one of the highest-paid artists of his time, imbing champagne and moving to the French Riviera– a real Rice to Riches story!

read more

Verdi: A bold request

Verdi: A bold request


Leticia Marie Sanchez

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


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


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.

read more

Getty Villa Chefs and the Bacchae..

Getty Lunch 2

Chefs at the Getty Villa are already preparing the menu for the concessions available on the nights of the performances of Bacchae, opening September 6th.

Treats include the edible butterfly on this chocolate tart.

The pleasure-seeking Dionysus would certainly approve of this Cultural Cocktail for the senses!

Getty Lunch 3

read more

Sneak Preview: Bacchae at the Getty Villa- opening September 6th


Sneak Preview: Bacchae at the Getty Villa- opening September 6th


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Head of BacchusDionysus (aka Bacchus in Roman) was a busy deity; he was the god of, among other things,  wine, winemaking, religious ecstasy, madness and the theater.

Multi-tasking Dionysus: “I wear many hats, er, Ivy Crowns.”

Different visual clues can let you know that the deity you are beholding in work of art may be Dionysus: Grape Vines, a Leopard-drawn chariot, the Ivy Crown, or the Thyrsos (pine-cone staff).

What could be a better place than the Getty Villa, with its myriad works of antiquity, to stage a play about the god of theater?

Left: Head from the Statue of the Young Bacchus Artist/Maker: Unknown; Roman Empire; first half of 1st century A.D. Bronze with silver; Object Number: 96.AB.52 Dimensions: 21.6 × 18 × 19 cm (8 1/2 × 7 1/16 × 7 1/2 in.)   © Getty Villa

Anne Bogart getty lunch

At the press preview for Euripides’ Bacchae, the play’s director, Anne Bogart, discussed this very notion, dubbing the play “cultural archaeology,” in which we can “reexamine the DNA of theater.”

Bacchae happens to be the favorite play of many actors due to the fact that it is about theater itself. This play garnered Euripides a first prize award (although posthumously) at the City of Dionysia Festival in 405 B.C. Considered to be Euripides’ best work, it was immensely popular in antiquity.

The play offers much food for thought, namely the idea of understanding the origins of theater. As Anne Bogart revealed, the play can help us “figure out where theater came from..where the Big Bang was.”

She revealed that behind-the-scenes members of the cast had passionately divergent points of view on the work, due to the fact that Bacchae gets to the heart of what theater means.

Bogart admitted that, in the canon of theatrical works: “It’s the Everest.”

All Photography below  © 2018 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Getty hallway

Getty peristyle luncheon

Getty roof

Getty villa peristyle

read more

Beyond Civilized- Von Bulow vis a vis Wagner

Cosima Liszt, the daughter of the illustrious composer Franz Liszt, married conductor and pianist Hans Von Bulow.

While married to Von Bulow, she became pregnant three times with the offspring of German composer Richard Wagner, bearing Wagner three children: Isolde, Ava, and Siegfried.

Although she initially denied the affair, Cosima eventually left Von Bulow to move in with Wagner.

Von Bulow’s response?

In a letter contained in Norman Lebrecht’s “Book of Musical Anecdotes,” Von Bulow declares his wife’s lover to be superior to himself in every way:

You have preferred to devote your life and the treasures of your mind and affection to one who is my superior, and far from blaming you, I approve your action from every point of view and admit you are perfectly right…the only consoling though has been that Cosima is happy over there.”

Below: Richard and Cosima Wagner

read more

Salvador Dalí and the Cauliflower-stuffed Rolls Royce


Leticia Marie Sanchez        

Salvador Dalí mastered the art of creating his own image. Dalí shocked audiences everywhere with his flamboyant persona. A limousine or taxi was just too dull for the outrageous surrealist. So Mr. Dali drove a Rolls Royce stuffed to the brim with…. cauliflower.   The veggie-mobile was the automobile of choice for Mr. Dali as he drove to La Sorbonne University in Paris to give a lecture.  His speech was entitled, “Phenomenological Aspects of the Critical Paranoiac Method.”  

During the speech, Dali exclaimed to the two thousand listeners in the audience,

“Everything departs from the rhinoceros horn! Everything departs from Jan Vermeer’s The Lacemaker! Everything ends up in the cauliflower!“ Time Magazine, Dec. 26, 1955                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Move over Hybrids. That Cauliflower-Car was the first truly Green vehicle.

read more

A FOR ART- Icons of Style- A Century of Fashion Photography- A MUST SEE at the Getty Center

A for Art



Leticia Marie Sanchez

June 26–October 21, 2018

Icons of Style at the Getty is NOT-TO-BE MISSED for a myriad of reasons.

Firstly, the presentation itself is visually compelling. Iconographic fashion photography surround dynamic costumes ranging from Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Madeleine Vionnet, Madame Grès, Issey Miyake, and Alexander McQueen.

Secondly, and more importantly, this exhibit is the first of its kind.


Photo Left: Sarah Moon, 1941, Sveta for Hussein Chalayan, 2000; Carbon print; 2011.52; 57.2 × 43.4 cm (22 1/2 × 17 1/16 in.) Copyright:© Sarah Moon

Historically, museums have not actively collected fashion photography because the medium has been viewed as undeserving of the capital letter A for Art bestowed upon portraiture, landscape, and abstraction. Even within the genre of photography itself, fashion photography has often been deemed second rate. Although MOMA established a curatorial department dedicated to photography in 1940, a clear hierarchy conferred higher status to black and white fine art photographs over photographs created for commercial purposes like fashion photography.

The exhibit at the Getty, therefore, is a watershed moment for fashion photography.

In 2010, Curator Paul Martineau began working to augment the museums collection in this genre, and with the museum added seventy photographs by 25 makers to the permanent collection.Icons of Style showcases the work of more than 80 photographers, illustrating stylistic and technological evolutions. In the accompanying catalogue Paul Martineau explains that, “few museums have dedicated the time and resources necessary to pursue fashion photography in such a strategic and committed manner.”

Dior Dress

In addition to the works held by the Getty, lenders to the exhibition include: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. LACMA provided costumes by designers from Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel to Alexander McQueen.

Photo Left: House of Dior, Christian Dior, Women’s Dress “Abandon” Fall/Winter 1948;© Los Angeles Museum of Art, Museum Associates, LACMA

So, what distinguishes a simple fashion advertisement to a work deemed worthy for the hallowed halls of a museum? In his introduction to the exhibit catalogue, Paul Martineau reveals his litmus test of what elevates a work to the capital A of Art.” At least part of the answer lies in the ability of a fashion photograph to be a reflection of two or more worlds: the perfect world inside the frame- the place where youth, beauty, and luxury reign supreme- and the harsh realities of the world outside it. The best fashion photographs can remind us of other works of art or expand the boundaries of the genre, redefining what a fashion photograph is supposed to be.”

The exhibition divides the period of fashion photography into distinct eras:

“From Contrivance to Naturalism  1911-1929

“Style in the Face of a Crisis” 1930-1946

“Letting the Skirts Down” 1947-1969

“From Rebellion to Seduction” 1970-1989

“Ye Fakers: Realism and Fantasy” 1990-2011

 Prior to checking out the exhibit, here’s a primer on the various eras you will be viewing:

“From Contrivance to Naturalism” 1911-1929

Baron Adolf De MeyerMartineau selected 1911 as the starting point of the exhibit because that the year that Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was challenged to create the first “artistic” fashion photograph, of gowns by the French couturier Paul Poiret.

For us today the photograph is often the first window into fashion, so it is surprising to learn that up until the 1930’s the fashion photograph was still a fledging, emerging to compete with drawing. In fact, in the exhibit catalogue, Anne Mc Cauley reveals that as late as 1930 a series of articles debated the still revolutionary notion: “Will photography supplement or supplant line drawings in department store advertising?”” (Icons of Style, 29) Drawing embodied the idea of a dress, while a photograph recorded a specific, completed dress.

The idea of “retouching” also harkens back to this time period.  The notion seems so contemporary, linked in our mind with filters and I-Phones. Yet, during this era, photographer Baron De Meyer played with a softer, blurred focus focus, which became his signature style, a photographic chiaroscuro.

As an illustration of this technique, Rita De Acosta Lydig by Baron Adolf de Meyer.

Rita de Acosta Lydig. negative 1913; print 1914/ Gelatin silver print.Object Number: 84.XM.471.4

Dimensions:35.4 × 27.9 cm (13 15/16 × 11 in.)

The next era covered in the exhibit is 1930-1946 “Style in the Face of Crisis.”


 During the Great Depression, fashion photography evoked a rarified fantasy world to provide viewers a form of escapism from the grim economic realities of the day. On the contrary, during World War II, fashion photography attempted to remain relevant by portraying the tenacious, hands on- attitude that helped many cope with the war. The occupation of Paris and the Nazi bombing of London by the Nazis changed the fashion landscape by turning attention to the United States, and subsequently benefiting American photographers and fashion designers.

As an example of the escapist fantasy during the Great Depression, Miss Sonia, Pajamas by Vionnet, 1931.

V Back evenings Suzy ParkerLetting the Skirts Down 1947-1969

“Dior let the skirts down, and suddenly everything was fun.”- Richard Avedon (Getty Catalogue Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 147)

In the dialectic of the fashion pendulum, this era swung away from the austerity of World War II, and fashion once again embodied glamour and femininity. 1947 marked the year of Christian Dior’s first collection, inspired by flower petals and a shift against the utilitarian look of the war. An image from the show reflecting the new glamour is:

The V Back Evenings, Suzy Parker, Dress by Trigère, New York Artist/Maker: Lillian Bassman (American, 1917 – 2012) Culture: American Place: United States (Place created) Date: 1955 Medium: Gelatin silver print Object Number: 2011.35 Dimensions: 24.1 × 21.7 cm (9 1/2 × 8 9/16 in.) Copyright: © The Estate of Lillian Bassman

From Rebellion to Seduction 1970-1989

This era marked a cultural shift in fashion on many levels. Firstly, Diana Vreeland’s resignation from Vogue, signaled the end of a rarified approach in which the dominant fashion motif was haute couture and snob appeal. As Michal Raz-Russo explained in her essay in Icons of Style, Andy Warhol opined that “Vogue  wanted to go Middle Class.” Fashion became more relatable, youth-driven, and humanized. A second turning point occurred at the 1973 “Battle Of Versailles” in which French and American designers had a fashion showdown. Surprisingly, the Americans won the day due more to the energy of their presentation than the craftsmanship. Sportswear and career-driven pieces were now staples of the fashion scene. Street fashion was captured by fashion photographers like Bill Cunningham, Steve Johnston, and Jamel Shabazz.

Ye Fakers: Realism and Fantasy 1990-2011

David S

In the tome Icons of Style, Ivan Shaw, the Photography Director of American Vogue from 1996 to 2016, described the prolific period as one that “accommodated two opposing forces. While some photographers were rebelling against timeworn aesthetic norms and working to introduce a gritty realism into fashion, others were searching for pure fantasy.” The materialism of the Reagan era and expensive shoots were replaced by the grim reality of grunge, heroin chic, and the punk movement. The economic recession of the 1990’s also diminished the designer logo driven aesthetic of the 1980’s; additionally, this time period saw the emergence of Indy magazines. Photographers of this time period include Nick Night, whose images connect us to a world of surrealism; Steven Meisel who played with the concept of narrative and storytelling and Tim Walker’s theatrical photographs. The idea of the studio was also revolutionized with models no longer passively posing or “sitting” in a space; the studio became a source of experimentation of lighting, background, and perspective. Other photographers of the period include: David Sims who infused his images with intense energy, Craig Mc Dean, who embodied a cool minimalism, Mario Sorrenti, Mario Testino with his celebratory energy, and Steven Klein who his themes of darkness. Scott Schumann of the Sartorialist, brought to light online photography.

Above: David Sims British, born 1966 Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn/Winter 1995, 1995 Chromogenic print 88.9 x 71.1 cm (35 x 28 in.) Courtesy of and © David Sims EX.2018.7.1

Shaw explained in Icons of Style, “Fashion photography-once a niche industry with a cult following, has now become a primary cultural channel. The power of the combined visions of the photographers discussed has had an impact that has gone beyond fashion to influence film, music, television, and the fine arts.”

A Cultural Cocktail is really not complete without a dose of the Muse of Fashion.

For an edifying, visually engaging, and historically significant exhibit, check out Icons of Style at the Getty.

read more
Page 8 of 58« First...«678910»203040...Last »