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 has just learned that the winner of the 2006 Richard Tucker Award is tenor Lawrence Brownlee. Career Grants will go to Kate Aldrich (mezzo-soprano), Jordan Bisch (bass), Quinn Kelsey (baritone), Dimitri Pittas (tenor) and Gerald Thompson (countertenor). Sarah Tucker Study Grant winners include Stephen Costello, Ann McMahon Quintero and Trever Scheunemann.

on April 21, 2006 at 2:09 PM

Yes, the opera is Aida, of course, but is La Cieca the only one who thinks these three should be singing “ target=”new”>It’s Raining Men?”

on April 20, 2006 at 9:30 PM

Oh, it’s been a lot of years since La Cieca’s days in the campy cabal. How long, you ask? So long that she plumb forgot the moment where Lohengrin hands Elsa the Cockring of Remembrance. Dies Horn soll in Gefahr ihm Hilfe schenken,in wildem Kampf dies Schwert ihm Sieg verleiht;doch bei dem Ringe soll er…

on April 19, 2006 at 9:10 PM

Which diva is more than a little miffed at Met management at the moment? It seems that a major cast change in her opera was a done deal — even posted on — while she waited for a frank — or for any — word from those in charge.

on April 18, 2006 at 6:05 PM

Speaking of Montserrat Caballe and Anna Bolena — well, let’s speak of them in the same sentence. From February 21, 1982, a performance of Donizetti’s masterpiece, starring Montse opposite the loggionisti of La Scala. Blood was left on that stage, and it wasn’t all hers. That’s this time on Unnatural Acts of Opera.

on April 18, 2006 at 2:30 AM

Enrico Stinchelli and Michele Suozzo, the hosts of La barcaccia, are not amused by Edita Gruberova‘s improvements on Donizetti’s score for Anna Bolena. (They call her “Anna Mi Bemollena,” or “Anna E-flat-ena.”)

on April 17, 2006 at 2:09 PM

What was probably’s first experiment in multimedia, now updated:Just Jessye!

on April 16, 2006 at 6:49 PM

To salute the American spinto soprano, an assortment of podcasts from Ed Rosen, Charles Handelman and yours truly. Just click on the “play” button and turn up your speakers!

on April 14, 2006 at 2:58 PM

For Good Friday, a decidedly non-traditional Parsifal Act Two. Renata Scotto sings her only performance ever of Kundry in this April 14, 1995 performance featured on Unnatural Acts of Opera.

on April 14, 2006 at 3:53 AM

Beloved diva Montserrat Caballe is 73 today!

on April 12, 2006 at 6:15 PM

Finally, finally La Cieca has an updated archive/download page for all the “Unnatural Acts of Opera” podcasts. Enjoy your downloading and please let her know if any of the links don’t work for you. (And, as always, note the Amazon Honor System box in the right nav bar; that’s what keeps the podcasts and the…

on April 12, 2006 at 4:58 PM

In La Cieca’s inbox this AM: “I work at the Met and am so pleased to see clarified the entire Erika Sunnegardh mystery. It had actually never occurred to me that the Godfather Himself was behind this, but it makes perfect horrible sense. We (the worker bees) cannot WAIT for him to be history (lower-case…

on April 12, 2006 at 12:17 PM

Broadway/cabaret legend and devoted opera buff Barbara Cook conducted a master class in show tune interpretation at the New York Public Library on February 21. Through the miracle of streaming video, you can now see and hear that extraordinary session.

on April 11, 2006 at 2:10 PM

So, who said this? “… all opera hovers on the border of parody. No other performing art — except possibly dance — so exposes its practitioners to ridicule. Part of the thrill of opera is pitting sheer volume against human limitations, the constant awareness of the possibility of failure.” Was it James McCourt? Ethan Mordden?…

on April 09, 2006 at 7:32 PM

Those geniuses at YouTube just made the service even more friendly, if you can imagine such a thing. Now La Cieca can insert into a web site a player that includes a choice of 50 different opera videos. You’ll want to bookmark the new Unnatural Acts of Video page.

on April 08, 2006 at 5:28 AM

Next up in the spring podcast season, Act 1 of Die Walkuere starring Eileen Farrell, James King and Michael Langdon. Leonard Bernstein leads this sizzling 1968 performance. Unnatural Acts of Opera.

on April 06, 2006 at 8:09 PM

“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.” That’s the advice Judy Garland gave Liza Minnelli, and I think we can all agree that dear Liza took those words to heart with great success. At the moment, though, La Cieca is wondering how Judy would feel about a…

on April 05, 2006 at 3:01 PM

Gloria Monty, the TV producer who helmed General Hospital during the golden “Luke and Laura” years, died on April 4. She was 84. Perhaps Ms. Monty’s greatest claim to fame was the stunt casting of a 60-something Joan Crawford as an emergency substitute for daughter Christina Crawford on the soap Secret Storm. As Bob Thomas…

on April 05, 2006 at 1:47 PM

Like many of you, La Cieca was a little surprised at the blitz of publicity attendant upon the Met debut of Erika Sunnegardh last Saturday afternoon. A front-page feature in the New York Times, and then, a few days later, a followup article with photographs taken in the soprano’s dressing room. But did you notice…

on April 04, 2006 at 3:24 AM

At last night’s Don Pasquale prima, Juan Diego Florez was “souffrant” but sang the first two acts, then ceded the role to Barry Banks, who apparently rose to the occasion beautifully. Eduardo Villa sings the final Luisa Miller tonight, theoretically opposite Veronica Villaroel, who did sing the performance on the 29th (was anyone there?) Neil…

on April 01, 2006 at 3:46 PM

La Cieca has just learned that Erika Sunnegardh will sing tomorrow’s Fidelio broadcast, replacing Karita Mattila, who is under the weather.

on March 31, 2006 at 7:35 PM

That Eveready Rabbit of a diva, Montserrat Caballe, is going to camp it up once more at the Vienna State Opera when she makes her role debut as the Duchesse de Krackenthorp (the Ljuba Welitsch part) in Laurent Pelly‘s production of Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment in April 2007. This production, starring Natalie Dessay and…

on March 31, 2006 at 3:20 PM

Which veteran Met star had his nose buried so deep in his score that he collided clumsily with a chorister at a final rehearsal? The low-voiced divo erupted in threats, but calmed down soon enough when he realized that he was yelling at the AGMA Rep! Which soprano now has a large hole in her…

on March 30, 2006 at 10:18 PM

It does La Cieca’s withered old heart good to know that, yes, indeed, the filth just keeps on coming. Here’s a selection from a CD by Peter Anders Jr., who inherited his name (and that’s about it) from his famous father.

on March 28, 2006 at 9:56 PM