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.


Stephen Costello is ear-candy too: here he is singing “Torna ai felici di” from Puccini’s Le villi. Care to hear him sing the whole opera? Then tune in on Sunday, January 29 to a webcast from wrti.org featuring The Academy of Vocal Arts’ production of Le villi as the second half of a double bill.…

on January 24, 2006 at 7:23 PM

Fanny Brice burlesques an operatic diva. [kml_flashembed movie=”http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-4886971964734781240″ width=”400″ height=”326″ wmode=”transparent” /]

on January 22, 2006 at 3:34 AM

“Her quirky personality shines through once she gets to know you . . . . In the home, she is very sweet and quite affectionate, however she is not clingy or needy for your undivided attention at all times . . . . She’s not a hyper or noisy girl, but she has a wealth…

on January 20, 2006 at 5:17 PM

As a supplement to this week’s podcast of Faust, a video of Alfredo Kraus singing “Salut, demeure” in 1972.

on January 20, 2006 at 3:52 PM

Dear Liz Smith reports today: “THE NEW pope, Benedict XVI, is getting a reputation for slightly eccentric behavior. He likes to disguise himself as a simple priest and go out at night back to his former apartments in a little zone tucked behind St. Peter’s Square. He often goes to his old room and stays…

on January 19, 2006 at 7:56 PM

La Cieca is both delighted and heartbroken to announce that, on the occasion of Madame Vera Galupe-Borszkh‘s twentieth Annual Farewell Recital, the celebrated “Traumatic Soprano” will, at long last, take the “F” word literally. Madame Vera will say “addio senza rancor” to New York once and for all when she returns to the Thalia Theatre…

on January 19, 2006 at 5:04 PM

Two legendary artists are captured in the freshness of vocal youth in this week’s podcast. Richard Tucker and Victoria de los Angeles star in a production of Gounod’s Faust from the New Orleans Opera, February 26, 1953. Unnatural Acts of Opera

on January 19, 2006 at 1:38 AM

This just in from musicalamerica.com: “Marilyn Horne’s manager at Columbia Artists Management Inc., has confirmed that Ms. Horne has been diagnosed with localized pancreatic cancer.” A source at the Marilyn Horne Foundation adds: “Marilyn Horne has been diagnosed with localized pancreatic cancer, which, allowing for recent significant breakthroughs in treatment, offers an excellent prognosis for…

on January 18, 2006 at 3:03 PM

As several of you have informed us, some of the archived podcasts are currently unavailable for download. The host for these files, libsyn.com, has been experiencing some technical problems but they assure La Cieca that all should be well in a day or so. In the meantime, here’a another youtube video to keep you amused.

on January 18, 2006 at 2:55 PM

One more tribute to Birgit Nilsson. “Isolde’s Narrative,” 1967.

on January 17, 2006 at 10:10 PM

So, this is what La Cieca read on the website of the Italian newspaper Il Mattino: Roberto Alagna . . . sta male a causa di crisi ipoglicemiche e non potrà cantare per almeno tre mesi . . . . A dare la notizia lo stesso cantante accompagnato dalla moglie, il soprano Angela Gheorghiu, che…

on January 13, 2006 at 10:20 PM

Join La Cieca in a special edition of “Unnatural Acts of Opera,” recalling some great moments from magnificent Birgit Nilsson. Part 1 includes selections from Die Walkuere, Lohengrin (with Astrid Varnay), Siegfried (with Hans Hopf), Goetterdaemmerung and Parsifal (with Helge Brilioth), plus “I Could Have Danced All Night.” In Part 2, Nilsson is heard in…

on January 13, 2006 at 1:41 AM

La Cieca has heard (from a number of sources in New York and elsewhere) the sad news that Marilyn Horne is quite seriously ill. We’re not going to dwell on the exact diagnosis , but rather we’ll simply express the hope that “General” Horne will emerge victorious through the strength of purpose and good humor…

on January 12, 2006 at 9:42 PM

Now (as always) La Cieca is on the prowl for tips on opera-related gossip. We’re talking future casting, hirings and firings, onstage and backstage misbehavior, random acts of charity, deliberate acts of skulduggery, and, well, all those wonderful things that make opera seem like it belongs in the same world with Lindsay Lohan. In order…

on January 11, 2006 at 8:00 PM

UPDATED January 12: The legendary Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson died on December 25, it was announced yesterday. She was 87. La Cieca will present a special episode of “Unnatural Acts of Opera” tonight in salute to Mme. Nilsson. Birgit Nilsson as Isolde, Metropolitan Opera, 1971 Once Birgit Nilsson was negotiating a contract with Herbert von…

on January 11, 2006 at 3:37 PM

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, the “Dirty Colin” site was taken down almost immediately. So, until the coveted tape emerges, here’s a little something to help you keep the thought: Colin Farrell on Bruce Willis. Here’s news that should delight all you Nathan Gunn fans. The long-awaited Colin Farrell sex video has finally been released, or (La…

on January 10, 2006 at 6:35 PM

Soprano Mariella Devia — who La Cieca thought was such a sweet ingenue type — turns tigress for the title role of Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti). This live performance from 2003 also features Daniela Barcellona (Maffio Orsini), Marcelo Alvarez (Gennaro) and Michele Pertusi (Don Alfonso, Duca di Ferrara) under the baton of Renato Palumbo. The Prologue…

on January 09, 2006 at 4:28 PM

La Cieca wishes a very happy 80th birthday to Evelyn Lear, heard recently on Unnatural Acts of Opera singing “The Boy from Ipanema.” Another sample of her vast range of artistry can be found here, in her performance of the Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin at the San Francisco Opera in October 1971.

on January 08, 2006 at 6:19 PM

La Cieca hears that the Met has promised Renee Fleming a production of Rossini’s Armida in 2010-2011. The five years advance notice should allow plenty of time to complete all the necessary tranpositions to the score, and no doubt the ultra-busy diva is already figuring out how she will balance rehearsals against quality time with…

on January 08, 2006 at 6:18 AM

A double-header of Tony Tommasini delights this weekend in the Times. On Sunday, TT puts on his Captain Obvious hat to ask the musical question, “is it possible that [Nathan] Gunn‘s appearance has drawn attention away from his fine vocal artistry?” You’ll find that story right next to the photograph of Gunn with his shirt…

on January 08, 2006 at 5:25 AM

With the new year always come new year’s resolutions, and La Cieca thinks that this year her resolution will be to stop making snap judgments. La Cieca hopes you understand that she only got into the habit of making all those snap judgments because she is right almost all of the time. But now and…

on January 07, 2006 at 1:48 AM

Congratulations to the Met’s Joe Volpe, who has successfully postponed lame duck status by wangling $25 million — real money, not pledges, and relatively few strings attached — from socialite Mercedes Bass and her husband Sid R. Bass. Mrs. Bass, who looks simply smashing in the photo accompanying the New York Times piece, made tactful…

on January 05, 2006 at 4:29 PM

We here at parterre.com would like to offer our condolences to Matthew Polenzani and his wife on their recent loss. Though we don’t know the Polenzanis personally, his singing has given us a lot of pleasure in recent years, and we sincerely hope that once his mourning is completed, he will return quickly to the…

on January 03, 2006 at 5:35 PM

Scuttlebutt from the Met says that Angela Gheorghiu hankers to sing Strauss’s Salome — though presumably she would workshop the role in a more friendly venue first. In other whisperings, La Cieca has heard that Peter Gelb is currently ensconced in the office once occupied by Beverly Sills. Apparently he’s to remain there until the…

on January 02, 2006 at 5:29 PM
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