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.


… down at Carnegie Hall. Or will be, on October 14, when the soprano performs a solo recital at the venerated venue. Details are sketchy at the moment, but La Millo is always good for golden-age tone and demeanor. Diva-fanciers should find themselves either run ragged or in heaven that week (depending on the quality…

on August 21, 2005 at 10:06 PM

The notorious 1969 Met broadcast of Lucia di Lammermoor, featuring Anna Moffo in, uh, unusual voice, will be webcast by Concertzender this afternoon beginning at 1 PM EDT. Sorry for the late notice, but this is worth at least a partial listen. For those of you who keep up with these things, Nicolai Gedda and…

on August 21, 2005 at 4:03 PM

Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalistsin the Helen Traubel lookalike contest Goetterdaemmullet!

on August 17, 2005 at 8:33 PM

La Cieca has to think of a new term that means “information I didn’t previously know, but at the same time is not at all surprising.” For example, Jane Eaglen belches backstage and wears peculiar shoes — per Trrill.

on August 17, 2005 at 8:15 PM

Vivaldi’s Motezuma, the opera that refuses to die, will grace the boards after all, says an article by Paul Moor at Musicalamerica.com. A court in Duesseldorf has held that the Altstadtherbst Festival in that city may stage the piece, regardless of a previous injunction against performances filed by the “copyright owner,” the Berliner Sing-Akademie. (The…

on August 17, 2005 at 2:37 PM

La Cieca has just heard that Carol Vaness has canceled her performances of Ariane et Barbe-Bleu at the New York City Opera this fall due to “injury.” The opening night of this Dukas production is scheduled for October 6, less than six weeks from now, and the word is that NYCO is scrambling rather intensely…

on August 17, 2005 at 2:40 AM

“While humor and story telling can warm any occasion, a good scoop spreads through a room like an illicit and irresistible drug, passed along in nods and crooked smiles, in discreet walks out to the balcony, the corridor, the powder room.” La Cieca is delighted to learn that gossip is the new meth, at least…

on August 16, 2005 at 2:50 PM

La Cieca is no longer alone in the podosphere. She has just been informed of the debut a podcast “designed for rabid opera fans everywhere” by a new girl on the block, Mme. Stella Maria Krazelberg von und zu Brabant. Details on the first episode (“As the Fur Flies – Bitchin’, Brawlin’ Biker Chicks”) may…

on August 16, 2005 at 12:17 AM

This week on “Unnatural Acts of Opera,” a 1998 live performance of Gomes’ opera Maria Tudor conducted by Luis Fernando Malheiro. The heroine of this opera (based on a rather improbable play by dear Victor Hugo) is the Queen of England known to history as “Bloody Mary.” As depicted by Gomes, Maria is regal, highly…

on August 15, 2005 at 6:22 PM

Anna Netrebko is Anne Welles! Rolando Villazon is Lyon Burke! On the silver screen, every thrill, every shock of the best-selling novel by Jacqueline Susann! Uh, make that “the best-selling opera by Giuseppe Verdi…

on August 09, 2005 at 2:29 PM

This week on “Unnatural Acts of Opera,” the kind of performance you just don’t hear any more: a “provincial” production of Manon from the New Orleans Opera, starring Montserrat Caballe. Like I said, this kind of thing just doesn’t happen these days. And did you hear about the 16 year old who sang Carmen last…

on August 09, 2005 at 1:39 AM

La Cieca has been listening to so much good singing lately that she almost forgot there was such a thing as filth. Don’t worry, it’s still around, and filthier than ever. Mara Zampieri, anyone?

on August 05, 2005 at 1:36 AM

It occurred to La Cieca that she might be well advised to listen (with her mind and with her ears?) listen to the music files she’s posting into her podcast “Unnatural Acts of Opera.” Not that there are technical problems with the source materials, oh, no, never that, but rather she thought she could start…

on August 04, 2005 at 4:14 PM

Due to the sensitive yet detailed nature of the following item, La Cieca thought it would be amusing (not to mention safer) to present it in the enigmatic manner of “One Blind Vice,” Ted Casablanca‘s gold-standard column: Leggy Artiste commandeers a whole range of roles, French and otherwise, but lately she’s been panting for a…

on August 03, 2005 at 8:00 PM

La Cieca’s fingers are trembling as she types these words because she has only just learned that amazing, awesome, authentic Aprile Millo will take on the title role of Leoncavallo’s Zaza for New York’s Teatro Grattacielo this fall. This latest installment in La Millo’s matriculation at the School of Verismo transpires November 12, 2005 at…

on August 03, 2005 at 7:30 PM

Which intendant was hoping to steal away from the city of his current post, either to that American A-house, that chic summer festival, or even that international theater so beloved of Alberto Vilar — but, alas, lost out on all three deals owing to a bad case of loose lips?

on August 03, 2005 at 4:42 PM

La Cieca notices that those lovely people over at Berkshire Record Outlet are offering what might fairly be called a plethora of opera performances on DVD, for just $8.99 a pop. Particularly drool-inducing selections include La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein (Regine Crespin), Lakme (Joan Sutherland), Carmen (Denyce Graves, Roberto Alagna), Un ballo in maschera (Carlo Bergonzi,…

on August 03, 2005 at 3:00 PM

Imagine a world where alarm clocks dictate when to go to sleep…. where ugliness is beautiful… where it is a crime to make anything perfect… and where the cheap seats at New York City Opera cost $45.00. Welcome to the Bizarro World, arriving this fall at the New York State Theater. NYCO has jacked up…

on August 02, 2005 at 8:00 PM

At first glance, the photo from San Francisco Opera’s Billy Budd looks like any other opera featuring Nathan Gunn, i.e., pug nose in profile, chin a-jut, freshly waxed chest front and center. But on closer inspection, it turns out that Billy is getting a tweak from Mr. Squeak: “Warm as a sailor’s pants, gay as…

on August 02, 2005 at 7:05 PM

This week on La Cieca’s podcast Unnatural Acts of Opera, we hear Virginia Zeani and Giuseppe Gismondo scale the verismo heights of Mascagni’s Il piccolo Marat. This 1962 performance also stars Nicola Rossi-Lemeni and Afro Poli; Ottavio Ziino conducts.

on August 02, 2005 at 2:02 AM

La Cieca has sneered quite a bit at Anthony Tommasini lately for his slipshod coverage of the Met’s archives and a really repellent obituary of Piero Cappuccilli. But it’s not like Tony is alone in his bumbling. This morning’s Newsday included a wire-service obit of legendary cabaret diseuse The Incomparable Hildegarde, who departed this world…

on August 01, 2005 at 4:48 PM

This week it seems Tony Tommasini can’t do anything right. First he cooed over Renee Fleming‘s impossibly arch performance at a Mostly Mozart concert. Well, subjectivity and all that; still, you have to wonder where bad taste ends and starfucking begins. Then, in this morning’s paper, ironically in a piece about the Met’s archives, Tony…

on July 31, 2005 at 2:09 PM

The ineffable Leyla Gencer gives a master class in grandezza in the latest episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera. The diva stars as La Gioconda in a live 1971 performance of Ponchielli’s opera.

on July 26, 2005 at 2:10 AM

Placido Domingo wants to conduct at Bayreuth: Domingo will in Bayreuth den Taktstock schwingen. (And is La Cieca the only one who thinks that headline sounds like the first line of a Lieder text?) One presumes that on the dark night between Siegfried and Goetterdaemmerung, Domingo will jet to Los Angeles to sing a quick…

on July 25, 2005 at 3:52 PM
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