Twenty years ago, a sad and lonely gay man sat down with a pair of scissors and a glue stick and said, “I think I’ll make a magazine.”
The occasion was, he thought, the 70th anniversary of the birth of Maria Callas, December 3, 1993. Of course, that date is exactly wrong (it’s either the 2nd or the 4th), but, well, history is history.
Now, two decades later, Our Own JJ wants to give thanks to you, the cher public, for making parterre box/parterre.com the most important project in his life. (And La Cieca says hello, too!)
So, a few highlights of parterre box (the first 20 years):
1993: First issue, “All Those Lousy Traviatas”
1994: The debut of La Cieca.
1995: “Talk the Talk,” a fanciful dictionary of operaqueenspeak, introduces the term “barihunk” to the English language. Early parterre critics include Enzo Bordello, Richard Breath, Nick Fishbone and Florence Quartavodka.
1997: Fans share their ur-opera experiences in “A Boy and His Diva” and Deborah Voigt bravely sits for the very first parterre box interview.
1998: Iconic interviews with David Daniels, Ira Siff and Ethan Mordden; parterre’s first online scoop, following moment-by-moment the many and various changes of personnel in the Met’s ill-fated “Zeffirelli 2” Traviata.
1999: “Opera Snooze,” a parody of a certain other opera magazine, manages to offend everyone from “Byron Callow” to “Anne Dwarfette.”
2000: Long and revealing interviews with Catherine Malfitano and John Ardoin; the serial “All About Steve” by Manuela Haltertop.
2001: Branching out, parterre productions presents scaled-down operas at La Belle Epoque in Greenwich Village.
2003: Intrepid reporter Dawn Fatale peers into the future: “The Post-Volpe Era”
2004: parterre.com turns blog, allowing for quick and easy daily updates to the site.
2006: A new website called YouTube revolutionizes everything, including parterre.
2007: The #1 parterre scoop to date: Gerard Mortier tapped for General Manager of New York City Opera. Also, the Peter Gelb era dawns for the Met, as La Cieca starts working on getting press credentials for parterre. (We’re still trying.)
2008: The big story of the year: Mortier out, George Steel in at NYCO. La Cieca goes out on a limb and gets it wrong.
2009: A momentous year for parterre, with features about the site in The New York Observer and Opera News. The site enjoys a professional redesign by Nick Scholl.
2013: parterre continues its two-decade tradition of annoying those in authority by leaking, three days before the official press release, details of the Met’s upcoming season.