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.


Mean, moody, magnificent Mari Lyn has finally (if posthumously) made her debut on DVD, thanks to the equally (if not more so) magnificent Donald Collup. Mme. Lyn, variously called “Hogcolleratura” and “La Traviyenta,” regaled the public access airwaves in the mid-1980s with a series called “The Golden Treasury of Song,” featuring the blond-bewigged “singing hostess”…

on June 16, 2005 at 11:56 PM

La Cieca hears that performances of Medea featuring Anna Caterina Antonacci this summer at the Chatelet will be taped for eventual DVD release. The production is from Toulouse, where la Antonacci won rapturous reviews for her first incarnation of Cherubini’s antiheroine.

on June 14, 2005 at 2:17 PM

La Cieca is just asking — why should the Web site of that prominent American baritone suddenly go offline? This artist (recently at the pinnacle of his career) has done musicals before, but this fancy footwork looks like something from Chicago! And which switch-hitting intendant is making noises about quitting his summer job? Is he…

on June 13, 2005 at 5:37 PM

Even as La Cieca writes this, the evergreen Vera Galupe-Borszkh is preparing to go onstage for her first-ever Duchesse de Krakenthorp in Michigan Opera Theater’s Fille du Regiment. As La Cieca understands it (reports are somewhat sketchy thus far), La Dementia is graciously jumping in at short notice for Shirley Verrett, who has sung(?) the…

on June 12, 2005 at 3:01 AM

“This week, I’m using Crème de la Mer for my skin, and products from Scott Barnes, the make-up artist who was responsible for J.Lo’s glow. His trio of pink geisha-inspired blushers make my day. I have my hair cut by Vartan Vartali and coloured by Michael Stinchcomb, who’s a fan and travels all round the…

on June 11, 2005 at 5:24 AM

So La Cieca has been thinking about joining the pod people; that is, she wants to try her hand at podcasting. One idea off the top of La Cieca’s well-coiffed head is something called “Daily Dose of Diva,” a mix of some of my favorite opera recordings and a bit of yakking thrown in. But…

on June 10, 2005 at 2:08 PM

Well, Mr. Vilar, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that you fell $1 million short of meeting bail and so you’re staying in the slammer. The good news is that your cellmate could be Russell Crowe.

on June 06, 2005 at 6:22 PM

Those clips from Forza La Cieca posted a couple of weeks ago got her obsessing on Renata Tebaldi, surely one of the healthier obsessions! So La Cieca has launched a new web radio show, “A Tebaldi Festival,” over 10 hours of all-live prime Tebaldi. Featured are complete performances of La forza del destino (Florence, 1953),…

on June 04, 2005 at 10:17 PM

La Cieca is as puzzled as everyone else about the mysterious disappearance of the DGG DVD of Don Giovanni (Met telecast with Terfel, Fleming, Levine – you know the one). The disc was released on May 10, then only days later DGG recalled it. Now there’s not a copy to be bought anywhere, and early…

on June 01, 2005 at 1:46 PM

… is one of the milder things the critics called Anna Caterina Antonacci‘s first Medea at Toulouse earlier this month. If Antonacci can live up to even half this praise, I’m going to have to get a tattoo of her on my back! “L’ardente Anna Caterina Antonacci a véritablement fait vibrer les foules toulousaines. Chanteuse…

on June 01, 2005 at 2:13 AM

The media frenzy surrounding the arrest of Alberto Vilar continues unabated. I mean, it’s like he’s the Lindsay Lohan of opera. The NY Times this morning does an in-depth on the apprehended altriust, coaxing quotes out of the notoriously media-shy Beverly Sills (“He was not, how shall I say, quiet, about his giving”) and Donald…

on May 30, 2005 at 3:21 PM

“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
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