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.

Joseph Volpe‘s memoir The Toughest Show on Earth (see, La Cieca can get the title right when she wants too) is a book about a working-class kid from Queens who wanted to be Rudolf Bing when he grew up. Or, rather, it’s about a stage carpenter who was bright enough and ambitious enough to do…

on May 22, 2006 at 3:10 PM

When she’s dressing for a gala and she wants to stand out from the crowd, what’s a diva to do? Well, she can hire Angie Dickinson‘s hairdresser, but then confuse the issue by making her dress out of window sheers. Or she can go for a classically simply mother of the bride dress, and then…

on May 21, 2006 at 4:44 PM

At long last (but far more than worth the wait!), the latest episode of The Entertainment Beat with Frances Gumm is online. If you haven’t listened to this marvelous series, well, you just don’t know show biz. And, before La Cieca slumps into unconsciousness, please let her thank the almost 100 participants in tonight’s live…

on May 21, 2006 at 7:23 AM

We interrupt this liveblogging with this bulletin: James Levine didn’t show for the Volpe Gala. (Obviously he wasn’t going to conduct, but not even to walk out onstage?) What’s more, Rudy Giuliani didn’t show either. And Uncle Joe himself didn’t even make a speech. Oh, God, how they must all hate him!

on May 21, 2006 at 3:59 AM

11:40: Then Rene Pape matched Hvorostovsky, then Zajick matched (topped?) them both, then who the hell had the idiotic idea of doing the Easter Hymn with a mezzo who can’t sing it and the chorus apparently stoned or else in another city? (Oh, and did you notice the long, noisy scene change afterward? Vintage Volpe.)11:05:…

on May 20, 2006 at 11:25 PM

The Volpethon is about to start in real time, but’s online discussion of the WQXR broadcast will begin promptly at 7:45. Simply click on the “Chat Now” button in the right toolbar to join the discussion. (Note you will need Java enabled in order for the chat program to work. If you need more…

on May 20, 2006 at 9:23 PM

Astute Anne Midgette (glimpsed earlier this week among the faithful throngs at the Millo Tosca) wonders today in the Times whatever happened to singers like Richard Leech, Sharon Sweet, Susan Dunn, Francisco Araiza, June Anderson, Cheryl Studer, Carol Vaness, Aprile Millo and Dawn Upshaw. All these artists were mainstays of the Joseph Volpe 1990s at…

on May 18, 2006 at 12:02 PM
on May 16, 2006 at 7:49 PM

For those of you who don’t do Skype yet, now’s the time to give the service a try. They are offering unlimited free calls to anywhere in the US and Canada from now until the end of the year. International calls to, basically, any phone in the world, cost .02 Euros per minute. Unless you…

on May 15, 2006 at 9:01 PM

You know, La Cieca heard there were some staging modifications to the Wilson Lohengrin since the last revivial, but who knew? As La Cieca announces in her current podcast, she will be liveblogging the WQXR broadcast of the Volpe Farewell Gala this Saturday evening. Comments will be enabled so you can be as interactive as…

on May 15, 2006 at 6:50 PM

Standing room for the Volpethon goes on sale on the day of the performance (May 20), and it will only cost you . . . fifty bucks. Nice to see that Uncle Joe hasn’t lost the common touch. By the way, has anybody read the book yet? No, me neither.

on May 12, 2006 at 7:20 PM

Well, it looks like yet another cliche turns out to be true: there really is no such thing as bad publicity. La Cieca hears that since his arrest two nights ago for DWI, Jerry Hadley has been fielding calls and emails from practically everyone he ever met in the business — most of them asking…

on May 12, 2006 at 7:00 PM

La Cieca hears that Ben Heppner has canceled today’s dress rehearsal of Parsifal at the Met; Mark Baker will go on. (He’s Heppner’s cover for the run as well.) UPDATE: Baker went on, and as if things are not already exciting enough, the Met has rushed Gary Lehman into town to cover-cover.

on May 11, 2006 at 2:39 AM

Everyone’s favorite new tenor Stephen Costello (whom so many of you have seen and enjoyed on

on May 10, 2006 at 6:27 PM

Fiorenza Cossotto, filmed from the wings of La Scala, belting out the Principessa’s aria from Adriana Lecouvreur.

on May 08, 2006 at 3:31 PM

Point/Counterpoint from the wellsung twins: Jonathan: “Renee Fleming is a disaster as Rodelinda. What the hell is going on? WHY does she sing this rep? It was like one big slur that lasted for four hours. I did not hear one consonant, and there was no sense whatsoever of where one note ended and another…

on May 05, 2006 at 7:37 PM

This week’s podcasts feature a reprise performance (the 1977 Turandot starring Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballe and Leona Mitchell) with all new chatter from La Cieca. In the current episode, she yaks about the Volpe Farewell Gala and poses yet another of “The Enigmas of La Cieca.” It’s all at Unnatural Acts of Opera, of course.

on May 04, 2006 at 3:45 PM

Among the highlights of the English National Opera’s 2006-2007 season: Catherine Malfitano as the Kostelnicka in David Alden‘s Cold War era Jenufa, a new David McVicar production of Handel’s Agrippina starring Sarah Connolly and Rebecca Evans, plus the world premiere of the opera Gaddafi, based on the life and career of the “Guide of the…

on May 04, 2006 at 3:18 PM

Posted, by some odd coincidence, to a David Daniels discussion board: “Remember, a Baroque opera has the same structure as a hard-core porn film: several minutes of boring dialogue/recitative, and then ten-minute sessions/arias where the stars show off their assets and climax in a spectacular ‘cadenza’.”

on May 03, 2006 at 4:42 PM

It’s rare to hear dementia and filth within the same minute of music, but, well, it does happen.

on May 01, 2006 at 3:01 PM

La Cieca has just learned the scheduled roster and repertoire for the Volpe Farewell Gala to be performed on Saturday, May 20 (and, if all this music stays in the show, part of May 21 as well.) Deborah Voigt will open the program with special material by Ben Moore, accompanied by Brian Zeger. The first…

on April 30, 2006 at 9:13 PM

La Cieca, who only yesterday was perpendicular hanging from a cable car, has been annoying San Francisco natives this week by humming the immortal theme song of that city by the bay while strolling her streets. (That’s the Jeanette MacDonald song, not the Tony Bennett number, but that’s not the point here.) Providing a welcome…

on April 27, 2006 at 6:03 AM

La Cieca’s on vacation this week, but here’s something to watch until she returns.

on April 23, 2006 at 3:42 AM

“Not since Delia Rigal,” comments one of La Cieca’s regular correspondents, referring to the ongoing (not to mention inscrutable) publicity juggernaut for soprano Erika SunnegÃ¥rdh. Now she’s headlining a revised concert program for the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on May 14. According to an “URGENT” press release sent out yesterday, La SunnegÃ¥rdh will be…

on April 21, 2006 at 2:51 PM