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 is delighted to announce that our editor JJ is directing yet once again, this time a production of Die Fledermaus for the [working title] opera. The single gala performance of the Johann Strauss II operetta is scheduled for September 18, 2005 at The Ballroom at the Century Center Theatre, 111 E. 15th Street…

on September 02, 2005 at 5:38 PM

It appears that La Cieca’s concerns about the suitability of Maria Guleghina for I vespri siciliani are shared by certain members of the Washington Opera administration. An insider whispers that MG’s (infrequent) vocalizing at rehearsals has been “horrific,” and members of the company are just waiting for the axe to fall. Expect Domingo to protest…

on September 02, 2005 at 5:03 PM

In response to the recent lively(ish) discussion about the suitability of Maria Guleghina to the rigors of the role of Elena in I vespri siciliani, La Cieca has decided that she should demonstrate how this music should be sung. No, actually La Cieca is not going to sing it herself; rather, she will present Renata…

on August 28, 2005 at 3:25 AM

La Cieca is borrowing a catch-phrase from dear Leonard Pinth-Garnell because she can’t think of a better word to describe… Maria Guleghina in I vespri siciliani. Is there anyone who thinks this is a good idea?

on August 26, 2005 at 7:59 PM

Just when La Cieca thought there could be no more opera this late in the summer, suddenly she finds out that something called REPO! The Genetic Opera opens tonight for a limited run at the Wings Theater on Christopher Street. The piece is described so: “a futuristic rock musical, Repo! takes place during an epidemic…

on August 25, 2005 at 8:34 PM

Performers in the Neukoellner Opera House’s production of Saint-Saens’s opera La Princesse Jaune smoke pot. The man-bites-dog angle on this story, though, is that they smoke it onstage, as part of the mise-en-scene. And the artistic director of the company, this dude named Bernhard Glocksin, has encouraged audience members to smoke their own weed during…

on August 25, 2005 at 2:20 PM

James Conlon, Régine Crespin, Plácido Domingo, Susan Graham and Dolora Zajick are to be lauded at all-new set of honors, “The Opera News Awards,” the occasion to be marked with cocktails, musical performances and other revelry at the dear Pierre Hotel on November 20. If La Cieca may offer just one teensy opinion (and who’s…

on August 24, 2005 at 4:00 PM

It appears that La Cieca has finally acknowledged that there is more to opera than high-voiced divas: tenors can be pretty amazing as well. As such, we’ve declared Mario del Monaco week at Unnatural Acts of Opera. The celebration begins this evening with the first act of Puccini’s La fanciulla del West, the 1954 Florence…

on August 22, 2005 at 7:09 PM

Soprano Renate Behle is jumping into the NYCO’s Ariane etBarbe-Bleu, replacing the “injured” Carol Vaness. And while you’re catching up on the company’s casting and repertory for the fall season, do make a point of checking out the NYCO’s site’s multimedia “trailers,” written and narrated by dramaturg Cori Ellison.

on August 22, 2005 at 12:11 PM

Which suave singer, perhaps distracted by his not-so-noble legal problems, suffered a meltdown at a public master class this weekend, repeatedly snarling “motherfucker” at his startled students? Shocked witnesses swore that the event should have been retitled “I hear America swearing!”

on August 22, 2005 at 1:34 AM

… 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
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