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.


La Cieca, ear to ground as always, has picked up some reliable-sounding scuttlebutt about the incoming Peter Gelb regime at the Met. The first decade will probably be known as “All Villazon All the Time” since (per our source), Rolando Villazon has inked a pledge to sing two operas a year at the Met for…

on November 17, 2005 at 2:46 AM

“She is as controversial offstage as she is on, but a total delight. With all her swings of happy and unhappy moods and periods of pressure, there is still a sense of incredible intelligence and instinct behind everything she does…. Her problems are understandable in light of the kind of performer she is, never placid…

on November 15, 2005 at 4:00 PM

Natalie Dessay is out of tonight’s prima of Romeo et Juliette at the Met; Maureen O’Flynn sings (and, incidentally, will go into the annals as the “creator” of the role in this particular production). Dessay is still on the roster for Thursday’s performance.

on November 14, 2005 at 6:35 PM

Which regional opera honcho just got booted because he (and the Mrs.) were caught trolling for sex on the internet? Funny, they seem like such ordinary people!

on November 11, 2005 at 7:27 PM

La Cieca scoured Google Images but couldn’t seem to come up with an authentic poster for Leoncavallo’s Zaza (which of course you and everyone you know will be hearing tomorrow night at Alice Tully Hall). As such, she decided she’d have to create her own. Click on the image for a larger version, suitable for…

on November 11, 2005 at 5:51 PM

Long before Matthias Goerne got all girly on us, popera megastar Andrea Bocelli (remember him?) dipped his wick into Wagner chick-lit. This is according to our colleague Nick Scholl at trrill.com, who goes on to snark re crossover and trannies. A link to Kirsten Flagstad showing us How It Should Be Done ensues.

on November 10, 2005 at 9:42 PM

That classic Mozart/da Ponte warning against the dangers of the heterosexual lifestyle, Don Giovanni, is the basis for La Cieca’s next podcast. It’s an example of what is called “big house Mozart” — in other words, Mozart performed in a grand opera house, with full-voiced Verdian and Wagnerian singers, and in general overlaid with a…

on November 10, 2005 at 4:32 PM

Rolando Villazon says he’s willing to do nudity, but only if it’s called for in the story of the opera. Might La Cieca hope that such a plot-driven rationale be found to get budding hunkentenor Stephen Costello to strip off during OONY’s Guglielmo Tell this Sunday? Well, perhaps not. But (so La Cieca heard at…

on November 09, 2005 at 4:05 PM

La Cieca is feeling more and more doyenne-y by the day as she sees so many young bloggers sprouting up like so many tender little, uh, sprouts. Off to a rousing start is wellsung.blogspot.com, written by two little gay boys (or gay-vague boys) named Jonathan and Alex. La Cieca assumes they’re gay because they write…

on November 09, 2005 at 3:42 PM

La Cieca works from time to time with (as dear Zinka would say) “young sinkers,” i.e., aspiring operatic talent. The harsh truth is that the average young artist has about as much chance of winning King Kong Millions as she (the group is overwhelmingly female) does of building a major career. With such an insane…

on November 09, 2005 at 3:00 PM

La Cieca’s latest episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera features Aprile Millo. The occasion is her upcoming appearance at Alice Tully Hall here in New York on November 12 — a concert performance of Leoncavallo’s verismo gem Zaza with the Teatro Grattacielo. The podcast features selections from two previous concert opera performances by Miss Millo:…

on November 08, 2005 at 2:06 AM

A reliable source informs La Cieca that Jossie Perez will now sing no performances of the Met’s Romeo et Juliette. At the moment, she’s still listed on the Met’s web site for seven of the season’s scheduled 11 performances, but that may be just until her sub has signed on the dotted line. As reported…

on November 07, 2005 at 3:52 AM

La Cieca hears that Patti Lupone will make her role debut as Mama Rose in Gypsy next summer at the Ravinia Festival. La Lupone has previously graced the festival’s Sondheim series with her performances of Desiree Armfelt, Fosca, Mrs. Lovett and Cora Hoover Hoople. In the future — perhaps Joanne in Company?UPDATE: La Lupone muses…

on November 06, 2005 at 4:19 PM

The transformation is almost complete.

on November 04, 2005 at 6:45 PM

La Cieca must be getting her librettos confused. She knows that Baby Doe promises she will wait for Horace Tabor near the entrance to the Mineshaft. And, of course, back in the late ’70s, any number of Gotham-based operatic evenings wound up at this venereal venue. But this is the first time La Cieca has…

on November 02, 2005 at 8:36 PM

Last week, as you’ll recall, our Unnatural Opera was Die Frau Ohne Schatten, one of the most grandiose and over-the-top works ever to grace the stage. La Cieca thought her public’s palate could stand a little cleansing, so this time around we will hear a more intimate work, Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. This performance is from…

on November 01, 2005 at 4:00 PM

La Cieca has just heard that Jossie Perez has been canned from the prima of the Met’s new production of Romeo et Juliette. A source at the company says that the mezzo was protested by maestro Bertrand de Billy. The plum of singing the trouser role of Stephano on the opening night goes to Joyce…

on October 30, 2005 at 2:00 AM

“Newcomers to opera sometimes don’t get the appeal of a dramatic form with so few surprises. Audiences know how Tosca ends before the performance even begins. Earlier this month, though, two operas provided some measure of suspense.” JJ’s latest reviews in Gay City News.

on October 27, 2005 at 9:34 PM

The only thing better than knowing that a singer has had the greatest Sternstunde of her career is having that performance documented. Montserrat Caballe‘s Norma at Orange, for example, which is one of truly must-have DVDs for any true opera fanatic. Now, Dame Gwyneth Jones has had many great nights in her amazing career, but…

on October 25, 2005 at 3:02 PM

La Cieca has found her new theme song.

on October 22, 2005 at 3:56 PM

Twice the terror as murderous twins! Joyce Castle is Edith Phillips! Lypsinka is Margaret DeLorca! DEAD RINGER“Loved? You’ve never loved anyone but yourself!”

on October 21, 2005 at 7:30 PM

UPDATE: Not only are Gli Alagni scheduled for Aida at La Scala in 2006 (as noted yesterday), La Cieca has just heard that Peter Gelb has promised them a new production of Carmen at the Met in 2009-10. And, yes, Gheorghiu is the Carmen, not the Micaela. This is all at least four years in…

on October 21, 2005 at 3:53 PM

parterre box fave Aprile Millo is on WQXR tonight at 9:05 PM EDT in a broadcast of a concert given for the George London Foundation. Sharing the bill are tenor Garrett Sorenson and Ken Noda on the 88s. You can listen in to the excitement here.

on October 20, 2005 at 11:45 PM

The next time you roll your eyes at an operatic plot complication involving mistaken identity, just consider this: Mirella Freni‘s cancellation of her gala peformance of Fedora at the Washington National Opera last month was apparently due to a bungled phone message. According to a WNO insider, La Freni telephoned the company’s main office to…

on October 20, 2005 at 4:45 PM
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