Cher Public

Our Own JJ

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.



La povera mia cena

“Puccini’s Tosca is what is known in the trade as a ‘bread and butter’ opera, which in general is a fair appraisal. It’s something familiar and unthreatening you consume while you wait for the main course (e.g., next month’s new William Kentridge production of Lulu) to arrive.” [The Observer]

Portrait of a lady

There’s hands-on and then there’s hands-on, and the latter was definitely in play in the lobby of the Kaye Playhouse just before Thursday night’s performance of La traviata by the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance program. There at the will-call table sat la Arroyo herself, elegantly draped in midnight-blue lace, stuffing envelopes with tickets and fielding questions from patrons. The diva puts on no airs or graces, but there is the indelible stamp of grandezza even in the way she licks an envelope. Read more »

No one who speaks German could be an evil man

If Frank Castorf‘s work on Der Ring des Nibelungen at Bayreuth accomplishes nothing else, it should serve as a sort of loud disorganized reminder of the dangers of indulging in the intentional fallacy. Read more »

Ring? What ring?

All right, I admit it; I finally broke down and read the program notes for the Ring in the Bayreuth program book.

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The Platz thickens

I’m told that the public were, if hardly enthusiastic, at least ambivalent toward the Frank Castorf Ring up until the first performance of Siegfried, at which point things got really ugly and the booing started in earnest.

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Flame off

First things first: working from the limited evidence of half or less than half of Frank Castorf’s production of the Ring, I don’t see any evidence of contempt for the audience or whatever you want to call it.

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First impressions

There are some productions that “introduce” themselves quite clearly early on: for example, the Patrice Chereau Ring puts it cards on the table very frankly with the image of the hydroelectric dam populated by grisette Rhinedaughters.

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He who gets kicked

A last minute scheduling conflict at the New York Post (curse you, Tony season!) meant that my planned review of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at Manhattan School of Music had to be 86ed.

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