James Jorden (who writes under the names “La Cieca” and “Our Own JJ”) is the founder and editor of parterre box. During his 20 year career as an opera critic he has written for the New York Times, Opera, Gay City News, Opera Now, Musical America and the New York Post. He has also raised his voice in punditry on National Public Radio. From time to time he has directed opera, including three unsuccessful productions of Don Giovanni, a work he hopes to return to someday. He is the co-creator, writer and occasional wig stylist for “The Dozen Divas,” the long-running cabaret show starring the ineffable Dorothy Bishop. Currently he alternates his doyenne duties with writing a twice-weekly column on opera for the New York Observer.
Our Own JJ
Despite the participation of venerable composer Carlisle Floyd, the only distinction Prince of Players can claim is as the worst drag show in Manhattan. [Observer]
“Though most of the reviews of last week’s Met’s revival of Bellini’s I Puritani concentrated on the singing of tenor Javier Camarena… we should not overlook his leading lady, soprano Diana Damrau. In a sense, she outshone even Camarena, because she not only sang the difficult leading role, she also directed the opera.” [Observer]
“Reading the texts…I found to my fear and horror, words that killed, words that told every time of women’s undoing.” So wrote feminist critic Catherine Clément in her controversial 1979 study Opera: The Undoing of Women. Though the focus of her work was on classic operas like Madama Butterfly and Lucia di Lammermoor, her thesis, that violent mistreatment of women is central to opera, was confirmed last weekend when Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now presented new works in which women were variously gang-raped, eviscerated and executed by firing squad. [Observer]
One thing that is killing opera is the practice of critics’ comparing the singers they heard last night to dead or retired artists.
“And what, after all, is this ‘love’ everyone keeps singing about and dying for?”
New York City Opera Renaissance’s Tosca “was opera at its most retrograde, an effort to recreate a golden age from a handful of tinsel.”