My Life as a Queer Opera Person

When I was 11 years old

I was in this kids' production of HMS Pinafore (a soprano Dick Deadeye?) and thenI drove my family bats playing the D'Oyly Carte LP over and over and over; so my mom gave me her Price/Corelli Carmen to try to shut up the G and S and I was in love.
And THEN I got the Solti Ring for my 12th birthday and I was in ecstasy.

Jump forward to my first semester in college

when I took a job as assistant to the director of opera workshop's Don Giovanni: the second week of rehearsals the director suffered a minor heart attack and I finished directing the show.

Hey, finally here's something I'm GOOD at!

So I came to New York to direct opera.
Some good breaks at first but as of late 1993 I hadn't worked in a year. Very depressed.

A therapist suggested I try doing something opera-related that doesn't require 60 other people. As it happened another patient of hers was this punk musician who also wrote for "Homocore" (queer punk) zines.

So, I said to myself, why not a queer opera zine?

I thought I'd do a one-shot salute to Maria Callas on her 70th birthday (December 3, 1993)
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and also wrote I Love My Dead Gay Walsung about Siegmund as a John Rechy-type sexual outlaw and a column entitled "We fear that…" announcing that the Met hascommissioned Anthony Davis to write an opera called Cavalleria Suburbiana starring Cecilia Bartoli as "Amy Fisher" --and Placido Domingo as Joey Buttafuoco, of course.

I also invited people to send in their favorite unkind stories about Kathy Battle. (Note this was before her big "Neely O'Hara" debacle at the Met!)

So, I left copies of zine #1 at record stores and gay bars and inside the Met (which later got me in BIG TROUBLE! And people started writing to me and subscribing and sending reviews and stuff!

Cool finish to the story!

parterre box ran 47 issues, over eight years, and is now online exclusively, pulling in an average of 50,000 hits a month. And what about James? Well, he's direcing opera every now and then at La Belle Epoque in Greenwich Village, writing for Gay City News, Opera, and other magazines, and going to the opera a lot. Well, it could have turned out a lot worse!

James Jorden is the creator and editor of parterre box, the queer opera zine. In real life he is a web designer and free-lance opera coach.

But he's not an Opera Queen!

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