BEING CLEOPATRA: December 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

What kind of leader are you?

What kind of leader are you? Take this quiz by Globe Business and find out. Will you be Cleopatra?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Being Cleopatra: Eleonora Duse

Eleonora Duse (1858-1924) being Cleopatra opposite Flavio Ando who played Antony in an Italian translation of Antony and Cleopatra which had three performances at the Lyric Theatre in London in the June of 1893

Sunday, December 25, 2011

How did the Ancient Egyptians Celebrate December 25?

Statue of Isis Suckling Horus, Bronze (664-332 BC)

The virgin mother Isis and her son Horus (20 BC)

I re-posted this from last year because I thought it would be very appropriate for today. Happy holidays to everyone! Thank you all for your support of Being Cleopatra and my CD, Cleopatra's Voice!

In the ancient Egyptian traditions it was customary to celebrate the birth of Horus who was born on, the equivalent, to our 25th of December in around 3000 BC.

Let me set up the story: Set, Nephtys, Osiris and Isis were the four children born from the Sky Goddess, Nut, and fathered by the Sun God, Ra. Osiris was not only a god, but he also became the first king of Egypt and married his sister Isis who gave birth to Horus. However, Isis was still said to be a virgin mother. Legend has it that Osiris was killed by his brother, Set, and his body was cut into 14 pieces which were dispersed through Egypt. Isis retrieved the remains of her husband and was able to conceive Horus.

She went into hiding in the marshes of the Nile Delta, and gave birth to Horus, the Son of God, under Sirus, the brightest star in the sky located in the eastern sky.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cleopatra Comic: "The Curse of Cleopatra"

Synopsis for "The Curse of Cleopatra"

When Countess Draska Nishki comes to Lt. Diana Prince’s office and offers her services as a spy for hire, Diana rebuffs her, and is tossed around the room by the judo-trained spy. Later, Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor are witness to a “war” between two rival movie studios, each turning out a Cleopatra epic. Magnum Magnus of Magnus Pictures contacts them and asks them to play the parts of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, because the actor and actress who were originally essaying those parts have fallen into catatonia. A mummy-wrapped actress attributes their sleep-spell to a curse laid on the Egyptian queen by a rival. Wonder Woman has to forego her lasso while playing the part, and the mummy-wrapped actress, who is really Draska Nishki, steals it, encircles her with its loop, and forces her to try and wreck the movie set on behalf of Nishki’s employers, the rival movie studio. But when the giant statue in Wonder Woman’s hands threatens to crush the villainess, she lets go of the lasso. Wonder Woman rights the statue, takes the lasso back, and captures Draska Nishki with it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cleopatra Through the Artist's Eye: Margaret Foley

Modeled 1871
Carved 1876
Margaret Foley (1820-1877)
Smithsonian American Art Museum 3rd Floor, Luce Foundation Center

Cleopatra was one of many works that Margaret Foley completed while suffering symptoms of a brain illness. She completed the bust, along with an eight-foot fountain of three life-size children, for the Women’s Pavilion at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. Cleopatra has been portrayed in literature as an ambitious queen and seducer of powerful men. Her passionate love affair with the Roman general Mark Antony is the basis for one of Shakespeare’s famous plays. The twinned snakes in Cleopatra’s crown evoke the kingdoms of Egypt as well as the queen’s manner of death. Rather than being taken prisoner, Cleopatra chose suicide, dying from the bite of a poisonous snake. Perhaps Foley was making a professional statement when she sculpted Cleopatra: the strong features and forceful gaze suggest the artist’s confidence in the power of women in a man’s world.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cleopatra's Culinary Adventures: Kushari

To mark the Cleopatra exhibit with a special dinner, try Kushari, or Egyptian rice (above left), with Olive Salad (right). Shiny inexpensive costume jewelry bracelets make clever napkin rings, a la Cleopatra. Serve the food on plates with ancient Egyptian images such as these from Egyptian International Art in Mayfair mall.

Kushari (Egyptian rice)
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup brown lentils, washed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup long-grain rice, washed
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 ½ cups warm water
4 large onions, sliced
1 cup cooked elbow pasta
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Hot sauce

In large saucepan with water, bring lentils to a boil. Remove pan from heat and let lentils sit, covered, 10 minutes or until all water absorbed. Transfer to a colander, rinse under running water and drain thoroughly.

In heavy pan, heat oil. Sauté rice and lentils over medium heat 2 minutes, until grains are well coated. Add salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric and warm water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.

Mix in chickpeas and elbow pasta. Reduce heat, cover pan tightly and leave on low heat 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, deep-fry sliced onions in 2 batches in hot oil until caramelized, stirring occasionally and watching carefully so onions don't burn; this will take about half an hour. Serve fried onions and hot sauce as a garnish over the rice.

This recipe for a classic Egyptian dish comes from Azmi Alaeddin, chef-owner of Aladdin Middle Eastern Cuisine at the Milwaukee Public Market.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Being Cleopatra: Petra Nemcova

Petra Nemcova being Cleopatra at the Roberto Cavalli vodka and Giuseppe Cipriani Halloween Party in New York City in 2008

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Give the gift of 'Cleopatra's Voice' for the holidays

Listen to samples of my new CD featuring pieces about Cleopatra!

Pieces making their recording debut include:
Track 4: Non mi vantar gli allori
Track 5: La morte di Cleopatra
Track 7: Viens enfuyons-nous tous deux

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cleopatra Up For Auction

756. ELIZABETH TAYLOR “CLEOPATRA” GOLD CEREMONIAL DRESS FROM CLEOPATRA. (TCF, 1963) Designed by Irene Sharaff and Renié for Elizabeth Taylor in the title role of Cleopatra. Worn under the extraordinary golden “wing and feathers” Vestment for her royal proces- sion into Rome for presentation to Caesar’s senate, atop a monumental sphinx, and again on her sarcophagus after she has killed herself. Western Costume Co. label inside inscribed “Elizabeth Taylor 1606-3”. Constructed entirely of sequined heavy gold lamé on silk, with some sequin loss, especially at shoulders. Intact and quite presentable overall. $12,000 – $15,000

758. CLEOPATRA’S BROTHER “PHARAOH PTOLEMY XIII” COSTUME FROM CLEOPATRA. (TCF, 1963) Designed by Vittorio Nino Novorese (who shared the Oscar for Best Costume Design) for Richard O’Sullivan “Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII” in Cleopatra. Worn during Caesar’s royal visit to Egypt when Ptolemy and his advisor attempt and fail to humiliate Caesar. Extraordinary detailed and authentic Royal Vestments con- structed of heavy wool with extensive gold-bullion and gold lamé with multi-colored wool inserts, topped by elaborate Nekhbet goddess chest appliqué and metallic two-headed Horus throat plate. Together with sand-colored wool robe which is one of two layers Ptolemy wears under the Vestment. Both articles bear “Casa D’Arte Firenze” labels with char- acter’s name inscribed, and both are in excellent condition, virtually as screen-worn. $1,500 – $2,000

757. EGYPTIAN GENERAL JOHN DOUCETTE “ACHILLAS” COSTUME FROM CLEOPATRA. (TCF,1963) Designed by Vittorio Nino Novorese for John Doucette, who portrays Egyptian General Achillas, head of Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII’s army in Cleopatra. Worn during Caesar’s royal visit to Egypt to order the end of discord between Ptolemy and his sister Cleopatra. Constructed authentically by “Casa D’Arte Firenze” of heavy leather with numerous pressed, cast, and stamped metallic ornaments and medallions. Label inside is inscribed for re-purposing of “Ammiraglio Egiziano” as is the black and gold thread under-tunic which is from the same re- purposed screen-use. Excellent condition overall, with only a few of the smallest ornaments missing. $1,500 – $2,000

748. WARDROBE AND SET STILLS FROM CLEOPATRA. (TCF, 1963) Collection of 15 wardrobe and set stills including 15 gelatin silver glossy 8 x 10 in. prints taken on location and showing Elizabeth Taylor as “Cleopatra” in wig, and Kenneth Haigh “Brutus” dead body brought before Richard Burton “Marc Antony.” The massed troops are shown as are select soldiers for detailed shots of armor and dress. Includes one color photograph of a costume design sketch for a market scene. Very good; exhibiting slight handling wear. $300 – $500

777. COLLECTION OF ELIZABETH TAYLOR CLEOPATRA HAIR DRESSING DEPARTMENT PHOTOGRAPHS FROM CLEOPATRA. Collection of 23 glossy black and white borderless 8 1⁄4 in. x 10 1⁄2 in. continuity photographs of Elizabeth Taylor in various hair shots for wigs on the set of Cleopatra. Taylor is featured in various scenes from her Alexandria apartment, the mausoleum, the tombs, her villa, and others. Includes 3 candid on-set Polaroids. Includes Cleopatra film program signed in red ink at the lower front cover by John Chambers. $600 – $800

173. ELIZABETH TAYLOR COLOR TRANSPARENCIES AND NEGATIVES FROM CLEOPATRA AND THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. Twelve (12) 35mm to 8 x 10 in. color transparencies and negatives of Elizabeth Taylor from Cleopatra (1963), The Taming of the Shrew (1967) as well as candid shots. Very fine. $400 – $600

754. HOWARD TERPNING ORIGINAL FINAL-DRAFT ONE-SHEET POSTER ARTWORK FOR CLEOPATRA. (TCF, 1963) In late 1962 20th Century-Fox Studios commissioned well known studio artist HowardTerpning to create the promo- tional artwork for the upcoming epic Cleopatra, perhaps the most-hyped Hollywood film since 1939’s Gone With the Wind. This is the master painting for the standard “one-sheet” poster exhibited in virtually all the movie theaters featuring the film. Accomplished in acrylic on illustration board and measuring approx. 27 1⁄2 in. x 31 1⁄2 in., the painting depicts Elizabeth Taylor, the last great female star of the 20th Century, in all her regal glory as she sits upon a solid gold throne of Nubian cats holding the crook & flail of Osiris—the Pharaoh’s symbols of royalty, majesty and dominion over ancient Egypt. Flanking her on either side are Richard Burton as Marc Antony and Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar. This magnificent “Royal Portrait” depicts all three of these great Hollywood stars costumed in the regal state attire of their film characters. 20th Century Fox Studio’s Cleopatra was at the time of release the most expensive motion picture ever made and Elizabeth Taylor Hollywood’s highest paid star. Production costs on the production pushed the studio to the edge of bankruptcy and forced it to sell off much of its coveted back lot later to become Century City. Artist Howard Terpning went on to become one of the most famous painters of the American Southwest and is one of only 33 members inducted into the Cowboy Artists of America. His paintings of the Plains Indians have sold for over $1.5 million dollars and are held in museums and well known private col- lections in America and overseas. In May, 2011 Profiles in History sold the Howard Terpning Cleopatra “half-sheet”poster art for $126,500.00. A once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire one of the most important and iconic motion picture paintings of all time. Elizabeth Taylor’s beauty is captured at the zenith of her storied career. The lot is accompanied with a framed vintage Cleopatra one-sheet poster and film program depicting the art. In excellent condition; framed. $60,000 – $80,000

752. ORIGINAL CONCEPT PRODUCTION ARTWORK OF CLEOPATRA’S ALEXANDRIA APARTMENT FROM CLEOPATRA. (TCF, 1963) Large-scale original concept painting accomplished in pencil, ink, gouache and tempera on a 20 in. x 40 in. leaf of illustration paper affixed to a 30 in. x 40 in. illustration board, featuring Elizabeth Taylor as “Cleopatra” in her Alexandria apartment with numerous attendants. Twentieth Century-Fox production label at the lower right corner. Exhibits toning and slight soiling in the margins and corner wear. Acquired from the Twentieth Century-Fox sale in 1971 with the pencil notation “SK 577” on the verso and Sotheby, Parke-Bernet sticker at the lower right corner. $2,000 – $3,000

753. ORIGINAL CONCEPT PRODUCTION ARTWORK OF MARC ANTONY’S TARSUS QUARTERS FROM CLEOPATRA. (TCF, 1963) Large-scale original concept painting accomplished in pencil, ink, gouache and tempera on a 29 in. x 40 in. illustration board, featuring Richard Burton as “Marc Antony” lounging in his richly appointed Tarsus quarters. Twentieth Century-Fox production label at the lower right corner. Exhibits toning and slight soiling in the margins and corner wear. Acquired from the Twentieth Century-Fox sale in 1971 with the pencil notation “SK 579” and Sotheby, Parke-Bernet sticker on the verso. $2,000 – $3,000

750. EGYPTIAN SERVANT-MEN MONUMENTAL WALL RELIEF FROM CLEOPATRA. (TCF, 1963) Constructed of fiberglass over a wooden frame and painted to crème to resemble sandstone. Visible in the courtyard of Cleopatra’s palace, the wall relief features ten servant-men attendants of Cleopatra gesturing and bowing. Measures 56 in. x 66 1⁄2 in. with a wire on the back for hanging and display. Special shipping arrangements will apply. $1,500 – $2,500

775. ELIZABETH TAYLOR MASTER SOLID PLASTER LIFECAST BY JOHN CHAMBERS AND 6 PHOTOS BY RODDY MCDOWALL OF THE PROCE- DURE. This Cleopatra-era lifecast was created by make-up masters John Chambers on August 8, 1962 for The List of Adrian Messenger (Universal, 1963). A relatively modern-day mystery, it featured a number of promi- nent Hollywood actors who were heavily disguised in make-up with their identities revealed at the end of the film. Elizabeth Taylor was offered a disguised role but turned it down because the make-up would be too uncomfortable. This plaster lifecast was done for this make-up test in Gstaad, Switzerland. The lifecast is signed and dated by Chambers on the verso. Accompanied by (6) 8 in. x 10 in. photographs by Roddy McDowall showing Chambers and Taylor during the procedure. Photos mounted to illustration board with handwritten notations. $1,000 – $1,500

ELIZABETH TAYLOR’S LAVISH STUDIO—CUSTOMIZED DRESSING ROOM TRAILER FOR CLEOPATRA. (TCF, 1963) It is widely known that Twentieth Century Fox’s 1963 epic Cleopatra was both a troubled and devastatingly expensive production. The film is infamous for nearly bankrupting the studio with its budget swelling to $44 million (equivalent to $320 million in 2010 dollars). Star Elizabeth Taylor was awarded a record-setting contract of $1 million that rose to $7 million due to the delays of the production (equivalent to over $47 million today). The studio was in particular trouble when Taylor became very ill during the early filming and was rushed to the hospital where a life-saving tracheotomy had to be performed. The production was moved to Rome after six months as the English weather proved detrimental to her recovery, as well as being responsible for the constant deterioration of the costly sets required for the production. During the filming Elizabeth met Richard Burton and the two began a very public affair which made the headlines worldwide. To help Taylor remain focused and stay in character,Twentieth Century Fox spent a rumored $75,000 (in 1960s dollars!) to build a heavily customized 36-foot dressing room/trailer for the star, staying true to the theme of the Egyptian/Roman epic. The Aljo trailer is decorated with opulence, through the talent and expertise of the studio set construction crew. It features rose colored carpeting, hand-painted ceilings, hand-painted murals in the bedroom, detailed crown moldings, custom makeup dresser and vanity, half columns mounted on the walls and other columned furniture and decorative pieces. Silky curtains hang from a semicircular runner to separate the bedroom from the rest of the living area. This special hideaway was designed to make the star feel like the Queen of Egypt.

The provenance of this fabled trailer is fascinating. Millionaire financier and developer of the Watergate complex in Washington, DC, Nicolas Salgo, helped arrange financial backing for the film for the studio. Once the film wrapped, Salgo negotiated with Fox to keep Elizabeth Taylor’s dressing room trailer and had it parked at his ZX Ranch in Oregon from the 1960s through 1980. Friends visiting the ranch, the largest in Oregon, would request to stay in the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton love nest—Hollywood’s version of the Lincoln Bedroom . Once Salgo sold the ranch, he transferred ownership to his neighbor from the adjacent ranch (the current owner and consignor) who owned The Lakeview Fantastic Museum where it became part of the museum exhibit. The trailer now resides as a guest house of his personal residence in Lake Tahoe, California.

The furniture, fixtures and curtains are all original. The other pieces currently decorating the dressing room, such as chairs, hand mirror, tel- ephones, magazines, photographs, etc. are placed as a museum-like tribute to Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Cleopatra. The original round bed was removed over 40 years ago and replaced with a queen-sized bed. Some areas on the walls exhibit minor moisture damage which can be easily restored; otherwise, in very good condition with original curtains and main fixtures intact. Due to the size of the trailer, special transportation considerations must be arranged by the winning bidder. A wonderful and intimate Elizabeth Taylor piece, epitomizing the epic extravagance of Cleopatra—the last of the old guard Hollywood films. $50,000 – $75,000

All these items will be auctioned off as part of the Icons of Hollywood Auction December 15 - 16, 2011 at The Paley Center For Media 465 North Beverly Drive Beverly Hills, CA

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cleopatra's Culinary Adventures: Honey and Cardamom Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 level teaspoon arrowroot
2/3 cup double or heavy whipping cream
10 cardamom pods bruised with a rolling pin
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons orange flower water
½ tsp crushed mastic (if available)

Mix a little of the milk into the arrowroot to make a smooth cream.

Add this to the rest of the milk and the cream. Transfer to a saucepan with the cardamom and honey and bring slowly to a boil. Cook very gently, stirring continuously until mixture thickens slightly. Add orange flower water and crushed mastic (if using) and continue to cook a few more minutes. Remove from heat, cover and allow to cool completely.

When quite cold, put into an ice-cream maker and churn-freeze until frozen, but not frozen hard. Serve at once if possible. If not, freeze hard, but before serving remove from the freezer and allow to soften in the fridge at least 30 minutes. Serve with fresh fruit or a macerated fruit salad.

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