La Cieca

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. Currently he alternates his doyenne duties with writing a weekly column on opera for the New York Observer.


Cher public, La Cieca acted with her usual impetuosity last night and migrated the blog to WordPress. For the last couple of months, Blogger has been slower and slower to post to FTP, and their Help Desk might better be called “Desk.” The frustration really peaked late yesterday afternoon when La Cieca got the “fishbone”…

on February 01, 2008 at 1:44 PM

Now that Angela Gheorghiu is entering the ranks of “veteran” divas, let’s see how what’s her vocal estate at age 42. (Video is from La Scala in 2007.)

on February 01, 2008 at 10:24 AM

Or, to put it another way, could this soprano be what the Met needs for Roberto Devereux? While you ponder the future, you can enjoy the past: the final act of Verdi’s Macbeth is now on Unnatural Acts of Opera.

on January 31, 2008 at 8:25 PM

Please bear with La Cieca, cher public as she is experimenting with WordPress. Don’t worry, the old parterre.com won’t disappear! To read previous postings, please click here.

on January 31, 2008 at 8:13 PM

Here are the results of La Cieca’s informal and utterly unscientific poll of her readers, asking “Who should replace Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in the Met’s production of Orfeo?” As you can see, a large plurality favored Ewa Podles, with David Daniels and Susan Graham also receiving numerous votes.

on July 16, 2006 at 6:32 PM

This is what makes conductors wake up screaming. From a performance of Madama Butterfly, Philadelphia, February 1967, with Montserrat Caballe in the title role, and Richard Karp doing what he can to keep things together in the pit. The trainwreck. (La Cieca likes to think of this excerpt as the “Berio Completion” of Butterfly.)

on July 15, 2006 at 11:42 PM

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Actually, no, Mark Twain didn’t say it. That means this public-domain quotation is available for use by Donald Runnicles, who, according to the August Opera News, is about to find out what it means: “Runnicles, of course, was not my appointment,” [David Gockley]…

on July 14, 2006 at 8:27 PM

La Cieca hears that tenor Dongwon Shin saved the day at Opera Australia last night (or would that be tomorrow night?) when he jumped in on barely a day’s notice as Calaf in Turandot. And most of that “day” was spent on a plane from Chicago to Sydney! First reports are that the Sydney audience…

on July 14, 2006 at 7:52 PM

Margaret Hamilton stars in the title role of The Licia Albanese Story. (Actually, that is Margaret Hamilton, but the role is that of an eccentric Texas millionairess who hires a high school band to accompany her performance of the national anthem in the Astrodome. It’s the opening scene of Robert Altman‘s 1970 film Brewster McCloud.…

on July 12, 2006 at 7:37 PM

Well, who says that the summer is a slow news season for opera? The top story this week is that the Royal Opera Covent Garden is living up to it name (the royal part I mean) by casting Deborah Voigt as Ariadne for their 2007-08 season. And bravi to La Voigt herself and her publicity…

on July 11, 2006 at 8:43 PM
on July 11, 2006 at 2:52 PM

Due to server snafu, La Cieca has had to repost the “Che Faremo” poll. Please feel free to vote again (or for the first time!) Who should replace Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in the Met’s production of Orfeo? Alice Coote David Daniels Susan Graham Bejun Mehta Ewa Podles Dolora Zajick Nessuno — cancel the production!   

on July 07, 2006 at 8:39 PM

The fascinating and unconventional artist Lorraine Hunt Lieberson died yesterday at her home in Santa Fe. We in New York heard her only infrequently in opera, most recently in Serse and La clemenza di Tito at the NYCO and Les Troyens at the Met. She was scheduled to sing Orfeo in a new production of…

on July 05, 2006 at 9:09 PM

A reader sends La Cieca this YouTube video of the lovely Danielle De Niese in Handel’s Giulio Cesare. The intriguing Bollywood-themed production is by David McVicar.

on June 28, 2006 at 3:10 PM

Those of you cher public who frequent the left coast have probably seen the new Los Angeles Opera production of La traviata, the one that bumps the period of the action forward from the epoch of Alexandre Dumas fils to that of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Well, of course the svelte and lovely Elizabeth Futral looks…

on June 26, 2006 at 5:53 PM

UPDATE: this story really does need an “evil twin” graphic. Oh, my! Will Crutchfield is talking to himself!

on June 25, 2006 at 3:22 PM

La Cieca has found a few fragments from last night’s performance of Tosca at the ROH — only about 15 minutes of music, but enough, perhaps, to give a hint of the suitability of Angela Gheorghiu for the title role. La Cieca’s take (based on an in-house mike, remember!) is that the Roman diva is…

on June 24, 2006 at 4:02 PM

Before La Cieca departs on holiday from her podcasting duties, allow her to introduce The Podderdammerung Page. Once again, La Cieca scoops the universe: here on parterre.com you can now listen to (or download) the entire Ring cycle, as featured on this month’s Unnatural Acts of Opera. What sort of Ring will you hear there?…

on June 24, 2006 at 5:24 AM

By now, cher public, you have all heard about the Skandal in Vienna: Olga Borodina was sacked from L’italiana in Algeri (or did she walk out?) because, well, there were a variety of reasons proffered. Short version, though, is that the Staatsoper press office announced “All contracts between Olga Borodina and the Vienna State Opera…

on June 22, 2006 at 12:20 PM

Yes, that’s our own Susan Graham, starring in an operatic version of the hit film Transamerica. Kudos to the hair, makeup and costume people of the Opera national de Paris for making Susie look so convincingly like a pre-op transsexual! Well, no, actually, the opera is Iphigenie en Tauride, and apparently the opening night audience…

on June 19, 2006 at 9:33 PM
Bosom buddies Bosom buddies

Elegantly bescarved divas Grace Bumbry and Shirley Verrett (in alphabetical order) “rehearse” scenes from Aida and Norma in preparation for their historic 1983 duo concert.  

on June 16, 2006 at 1:54 PM

Well, La Cieca has thought herself a mistress of the sizzling putdown, but she has been severely dethroned by one Andrew Clark of the Financial Times. So, how dull and conservative is Jonathan Kent‘s new staging of Tosca at the Royal Opera? “Kent’s production is the sort you expect at the Metropolitan Opera.” Oh, no…

on June 15, 2006 at 5:43 PM

Our left coast correspondent Baritenor reports: I would not call Grendel an opera for the faint-hearted. The libretto is well-written, but the score jumps to both ends of the operatic spectrum, going from lyrical to modernistic to lyrical again in the blink of an eye. Think Benjamin Britten on crack, if you will, only with…

on June 15, 2006 at 1:44 PM

The event that seemed poised to evoke the year’s biggest outpouring of Schadenfreude has finally transpired. The critical response to Angela Gheorghiu‘s first staged Tosca (Royal Opera, Covent Garden, June 13) could best be described as mixed. The diva’s vocal and visual glamour elicited kind words from all the critics, despite general reservations about a…

on June 14, 2006 at 2:43 PM
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