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.


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

All right, class. Take a careful look at the costume sketch below. It’s for a major character in a standard repertory opera. (In other words, nobody is doing Natoma.) Look carefully at the sketch, and when you think you know who the character is, scroll down to find out the answer. Think you know who…

on December 29, 2005 at 11:39 PM

“She had awakened desire in him, and he had once approached the house of Thais. But he stopped on the threshold of the courtesan’s house, partly restrained by the natural timidity of extreme youth– he was then but fifteen years old– and partly by the fear of being refused on account of his want of…

on December 29, 2005 at 1:11 AM
on December 27, 2005 at 10:13 PM

Peter Gelb‘s new broom continues to sweep at the Met. Perhaps to make room for the Gheorghiu/Netrebko/Damrau generation, the incoming General Manager is buying out contracts. Two Met artists in particular are targeted, and, oddly enough, these two ladies have quite a bit in common. Both are 40-something light lyric sopranos, and they have three…

on December 26, 2005 at 5:59 PM

Too late, I’m afraid, for a holiday gift, but what looks to be the must-have CD of the season has just become available. It’s a “new” Elektra, — actually a release of a live 1990 performance with the Valhalla-level pairing of Dame Gwyneth Jones and Leonie Rysanek as daughter and mother. (This is of course…

on December 23, 2005 at 9:14 PM

“It’s not like there’s anyone who wants new operas to fail. In fact, audiences, critics, and opera companies alike have huge stakes in seeing new works succeed. And goodness knows the Metropolitan Opera, like any reputable opera company, has a responsibility to present recent compositions. However, reviews are not for good intentions; I have to…

on December 23, 2005 at 6:32 PM

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on December 22, 2005 at 11:30 PM

Well, it’s that time of year, isn’t it? La Cieca is full to overflowing with the holiday spirit, so full of it, in fact, that she’s going to speak her mind, just as if this were a company party. There are some out there who have forgotten the true meaning of this time of year,…

on December 22, 2005 at 1:25 AM

Sometimes La Cieca can just lie back and let Tony and the Times do all the work.

on December 20, 2005 at 4:40 PM

The upscale art book for opera lovers this holiday season is George Tsypin Opera Factory: Building in the Black Void (Princeton University Press). Tsypin is designer of choice to directors Julie Taymor, Peter Sellars and Francesca Zambello; his most familiar work to New Yorkers is perhaps his Met Zauberfloete in collaboration with Ms. Taymor. The…

on December 18, 2005 at 5:56 PM

Rolando Villazon not apparently in his very best form but La Cieca is very impressed with a) his willingness to sing out and take chances even when he is less than 100% and b) his well-supported legato that is the basis of even his most vehement singing. Anna Netrebko found a way to interpret Gilda…

on December 18, 2005 at 2:08 AM

The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance. Camp taste turns its back on the good-bad axis of ordinary aesthetic judgment. Camp doesn’t reverse things. It doesn’t argue that the good is bad, or the bad is good. What it does is to offer for art (and life) a different — a supplementary —…

on December 15, 2005 at 2:22 AM

La Cieca has just heard that, following up on the resounding critical and popular success of Tobias Picker‘s An American Tragedy, the Metropolitan Opera has rushed into the pipeline a new piece by Jake Heggie, Brokeback Mountain, based on the short story by Annie Proulx, with a libretto by Terrence McNally. Current plans are to…

on December 12, 2005 at 2:54 PM

(1) Alessandra Marc is the soprano who was inspired by Leontyne Price‘s “Zweite Brautnacht.” (2) David Daniels’ favorite soap is “The Guiding Light.” (3) Evelyn Lear sang “The Boy from Ipanema.”

on December 08, 2005 at 3:36 AM

La Cieca thanks the record number of listeners who have downloaded the “Unnatural Acts Gala” already. Two of the prizes have been awarded to sharp-eared fans, but two DVDs remain to be awarded. Everyone so far has got the first two questions correct, but the third seems to be the sticking point. La Cieca will…

on December 07, 2005 at 6:44 PM
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