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.


“It doesn’t matter who sings what. At some point, someone’s fist is up someone else’s rectum.” No, actually that’s not a memoir of operagoing in New York in the 1970s; rather, it’s Shirley Apthorp‘s review of Calixto Bieito‘s production of Verdi’s Macbeth in Frankfurt. And isn’t it nice to see a story about the Metropolitan…

on May 28, 2005 at 1:43 PM

Met/Kirov/Royal Opera angel Alberto Vilar was arrested last night, charged with stealing $5 million from a client. The Federal complaint states that Vilar used the investor’s money “as a personal piggy bank to pay personal expenses and make charitable contributions, without the knowledge, consent, or authorization of the victim.” According to the story on Bloomberg.com,…

on May 28, 2005 at 2:24 AM

A presence from beyond the grave walked out on a recital by Dame Kiri te Kanawa on Wednesday night in Edinburgh. Following one of her songs the Kiwi diva turned to the audience and asked, “Did you hear the footsteps during the last piece? They were behind me. I wanted to look round. You have…

on May 27, 2005 at 2:18 PM

Which artists’ management company (hint: it’s one of the Big Three) is in such dire financial trouble that its president is regularly forced to dip into his own (considerable) private fortune to preserve the semblance of a positive cash flow? Which big-name stage director recently showed up for rehearsals of a complicated opera completely unfamiliar…

on May 27, 2005 at 1:54 AM

All right, boys, get your bold-faced fonts out. It seems that at Oprah Winfrey‘s “Legends Ball,” none other than Leontyne Price asked specially to meet fellow guest/legend Mariah Carey. La Carey (who admits that at first she thought the diva mistook her for someone else) reports that Lee chatted with her about her music and…

on May 25, 2005 at 6:02 PM

“Something happens on the opera stage when Aprile Millo and Marcello Giordani are on it together. It may not be perfect. It may even be a little awkward at times. But it’s real singing – at best, wonderful singing. And people want it.” That’s Anne Midgette in today’s New York Times, and she’s obviously as…

on May 24, 2005 at 2:18 PM

Finally Renaaay has admitted what so many of us have insisted for so long: she croons, and, what’s more, her Manon might sound better with electronic amplification. Oh, guess what, she yaks interminably about her jazz obsession, too, in this story.

on May 22, 2005 at 5:24 PM

This afternoon at 1:30 EDT, a live performance of Un ballo in maschera on BBC radio from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, featuring Karita Mattila in her first production as Amelia, with Marcelo Alvarez, Thomas Hampson, Elisabetta Fiorillo and Camilla Tilling under the baton of Antonio Pappano. (This information comes from the superb resource…

on May 21, 2005 at 3:10 PM

You could say last night at the Met was a typical Aprile Millo performance, if that expression were not essentially an oxymoron. “Typical” and “Millo” really don’t intersect in this dimension (maybe somewhere on a spiritual plane? But I digress.) Let’s just say that, what happens at a Millo night, happened last night, which is…

on May 20, 2005 at 4:48 PM

Which intendant-to-be is gaining a nasty reputation for nepotism, as in forcing his wife’s baton down the throat of opera companies afraid to incur his wrath? This kind of behavior ought to send up a red flag… or at least a yellow one.

on May 20, 2005 at 1:51 PM

The Met’s so-called “Millo Pole” will no doubt tonight be swarming with cognoscenti, or as we like to call them around here, opera queens. Aprile Millo sings her only staged Tosca of the Met’s season, and that’s reason enough to shlep over to Lincoln Center. (Millo had a big personal success in Ballo last month,…

on May 19, 2005 at 4:17 PM

Il Gran Teatro della Cieca proudly presents Above the Title: Operatic Superstar as Protagonist. This program features five complete live performances: La Fille du Regiment (Beverly Sills), Salome (Gwyneth Jones), Don Carlo (Franco Corelli), Die Walkuere (Kirsten Flagstad) and Madama Butterfly (Montserrat Caballe). Listen to the program Read more details

on May 13, 2005 at 5:22 PM

Coming up this weekend on “Il Gran Teatro della Cieca,” an all-new, all-recorded-live program of opera. You’ll hear complete performances of La Fille du regiment, Salome, Don Carlo, Die Walkuere and Madama Butterfly, with the title roles taken by Beverly Sills, Gwyneth Jones, Franco Corelli, Kirsten Flagstad and Montserrat Caballe (respectively!) In the meantime, do…

on May 12, 2005 at 4:40 PM

La Cieca hopes you enjoy her radio show (currently featuring an all-Virginia Zeani program) and would like to know: what do you want to hear on “Il Gran Teatro della Cieca?” Complete operas? Highlights? A concert by “Il Divo?” Email your suggestions to parterrebox@aol.com.

on May 11, 2005 at 2:44 AM

Well, La Cieca thinks that Jane Eaglen must be a hell of a wonderful colleague, or is it that she has a mortgage payment due on her Seattle condo? Whatever the reason, the Brit Brunnhilde is (you should pardon the expression) jumping in for an ailing Susan Marie Pierson in tonight’s performance of Fidelio at…

on May 10, 2005 at 3:16 PM

La Cieca hears (from sometimes reliable internet snitch Tony Soprano) that Matthew Epstein will make a triumpant return to the 15% biz in general and Columbia Artists Management in particular. Expect an announcement (from someone besides Tony, that is) sometime next week. Glad to see that someone knows his correct Fach! In completely unrelated news,…

on May 05, 2005 at 6:04 PM

La Cieca abandons HTML today and shifts to a blog-driven site. She’s hoping that the easier interface will mean more frequent and timely updates, but I guess you’ll be the judge of that! A rave review for last night’s Ballo at the Met from the hard-to-please Charlie Handelman, in particular Miss Millo and Mr. Giordani…

on May 04, 2005 at 4:47 PM

Is this the new Stefan Zucker?

on April 24, 2005 at 1:47 PM

This one is just a whisper at the moment, but La Cieca has heard that Mirella Freni is not going to show up for the Met Pension Fund gala in May? Like I said, it’s just a whisper, but… Those of you listening to today’s intermission feature during the Met’s Walkuere broadcast just heard Sally…

on April 23, 2005 at 9:43 PM

La Cieca hears that Thomas Hampson may not be singing his first Met Simon Boccanegra in 2006-07 as scheduled. The rumor is that Hampson has been asked to step down so that Placido Domingo can add this role to his already vast repertoire. Can Placido’s Kostelnicka be far behind?

on March 15, 2005 at 10:45 PM

The Impresarios The Ballad of Billy Budd All About Steve A Bitchy Class Just Jessye! Ain’t it a pretty voice? Valley of the Divas The Texaco Opera Queens New Roles for Cecilia Bartoli Bartoli Meets Swenson Beefcake in Opera Ten Rules for Stage Directors Ten Questions You’ll Never Hear on the Opera Quiz Missed Opportunities…

on March 06, 2005 at 8:06 PM

In response to a very official-looking email from the Business and Legal Affairs department of the Universal Music Group, La Cieca reluctantly must now reveal that the mp3 she mischievously identified as “a track from Renee Fleming‘s new jazz album” is in fact nothing of the kind. The clip was meant as a travesty of…

on February 23, 2005 at 1:14 AM

La Cieca has just been informed that the legendary team of superagents Bruce Zemsky and Alan Green have packed their bags and moved out of CAMI, presumably to start up their own management firm. Zemsky and Green handled artists ranging from Marcelo Alvarez to Mariana Zvetkova; no word yet on how many of the dozens…

on February 09, 2005 at 1:19 AM

This is getting ridiculous, folks. La Cieca, sitting here in New York, reported four days ago that David Gockley had accepted an offer to helm San Francisco Opera. And now she hears that Gockley broke the news to his Houston Grand Opera staff “days ago.” And still no announcement from the city by the bay!…

on February 03, 2005 at 1:51 PM
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