23 January 2008

Jerry duty

Perhaps the last people in the world still interested in Jerry Springer: the Opera are trying to get together a protest against the January 29 Carnegie Hall concert performance of the "patently obscene and viciously anti-Christian musical." Our own JJ, you know, saw the show in London way back when Jenny Larmore was still fat, and this is some of what he had to say:
... the level of wit rarely rose to that of a “Saturday Night Live” skit. The one-joke concept is tipped off in the title: we hear, for example, a countertenor “chick with a dick” shrieking “Talk to the hand!” in mock-Wagnerian hysteria .... Oh, how the audience roared every time anyone said the f-word, which added up to about 500 laughs in the course of the evening. Among the huge cast, the clear standout was David Bedella (Warm Up Man/Satan), a triple-threat star personality with a seemingly limitless vocal range.
Bedella reprises his role at Carnegie, which is the only reason La Cieca would recommend the show. Well, the only reason besides pissing off Bill Donohue, who apparently has free time on his hands when he's not taking on Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Kathy Griffin, Mike Huckabee and Chocolate Jesus.

La Cieca gives major props to the editor of catholicleague.org, though, for hed writing skillz: "CHRISTIANS SAVAGED AT CARNEGIE HALL" is a grabber!

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17 January 2008

Winter storms

"The presence of the voiceless Rosalind Plowright in the supporting role of Gertrude demonstrates the folly of the Met's notoriously Britcentric artistic administration. Surely there are dozens of equally over-the-hill American mezzos who could have shrieked the role just as atonally."

Our own JJ reviews the Met's productions of Hansel and Gretel, Die Walküre and Un ballo in maschera in Gay City News. JJ's previous scribblings in the queer rag be found in the archives for 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004.

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20 December 2007


Last month our own JJ took in a trio of less than standard operas: Giulio Cesare and Die Frau ohne Schatten in Chicago, and Iphigénie en Tauride right here in New York. The review is in Gay City News, of course.

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29 November 2007

Running, standing and jumping Gaul

"Legendary maestro Tullio Serafin once said that trying to perform Bellini's Norma without a great soprano is as futile as attempting to cook risotto without rice. This month, the Metropolitan Opera experimented with such a recipe with less than palatable results."

Our Own JJ reviews Hasmik Papian's Druidess in Gay City News.

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15 November 2007

JJ and the City

"Soprano Lauren Flanigan turned her vaunted acting skills to the task of portraying the sophisticated allure of Vanessa, hampered more than a little by a stiff auburn wig and dowdy costumes that left her looking like Nellie Oleson's mother. Happily, on November 8, Flanigan was in superb voice, sailing fearlessly up to fiery high B's and C's and plunging into a well-projected chest register." Our Own JJ reviews NYCO's Vanessa and Cendrillion for Gay City News.

Please do try to forgive the weird é characters that somehow crept into the text; the editors at GCN are working on transforming them back into their original e aigu (é) state.

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02 November 2007


Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera"When the Met last offered Verdi's Macbeth a quarter century ago, the New York Times slammed Sir Peter Hall's staging as 'the worst new production to struggle onto the Metropolitan Opera's stage in modern history' and the opening night audience greeted the curtain calls with some of the loudest boos in the theater's history. On October 22, the company neatly avoided a reprise of this notorious fiasco when they offered a bland take on the opera unlikely to rouse much strong feeling at all. "

Our Own JJ reviews Macbeth in Gay City News.

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26 July 2007

All about Ewa

Our editor JJ's review of the Caramoor concert performance of Il trovatore (featuring Ewa Podlés as Azucena) is in the current issue of Gay City News. And for those of you who long for the gay stereotypes of yore, please note that this opera review is currently the most popular story on GCN's site, beating out items on Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, Barack Obama, and even Jim Naugle, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale!

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15 June 2007

I laughed for art, I laughed for love

"This writer approached the new off-Broadway play The Second Tosca with more than a bit of trepidation, worried that it might amount to no more than second-rate Terrance McNally or, even worse, unfunny inanity like Lend Me a Tenor. What a relief, then, it is to report that The Second Tosca is a delightful, campy, and sincere show, bitingly accurate in its take on opera and the crazy people who create it." Our publisher JJ moonlights as a drama critic in Gay City News.

Rachel deBenedet and Vivian Reed in The Second Tosca. (Photograph by Neilson Barnard.)

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30 April 2007

Tristan und JJ

Our very own editor takes to the airwaves this afternoon when he is interviewed by John Schaefer on WNYC's Soundcheck. As part of "Tristan Mysteries" week here in New York, JJ will play selections from a few of his favorite recordings of Tristan und Isolde, and probably will find time to mouth off a bit as well. JJ is skedded to appear sometime in the second half of the show, after about 2:30 p.m.

UPDATE: Here's the interview.

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26 April 2007

Length matters

"The Met's lavish new production of Giacomo Puccini's operatic trilogy Il trittico (heard April 20) was almost as enjoyable as it was long." Our editor JJ's somewhat contrarian position may be read in Gay City News.

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23 April 2007

But enough about me

Our editor JJ chats with the lovely and talented Mona de Crinis in an interview for the Palm Springs Bottom Line, a publication whose title contains so many double entendres La Cieca lost count. Thrill yet once again to the saga of parterre box, the little zine that could, and JJ, the editor who would. And did. (Frequently.)

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23 March 2007

Mary Dunleavy joins in the fun

La Cieca has just been informed that soprano Mary Dunleavy will participate in tonight's panel discussion "Opera and Technology" at The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University. No word on whether La Dunleavy replaces or supplements the previously announced Lucy Shelton. Our own JJ will be there of course, along with a veritable constellation of opera pundits: Elena Park, Editorial and Creative Content, The Metropolitan Opera; Beth Greenberg, stage director, New York City Opera; Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and writer; and Anne Midgette, critic, The New York Times. That's tonight at 7:30 PM, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue (between 116th and 118th Streets), second floor.

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11 March 2007

Tech talk

Here are more details on the panel discussion "On Opera and Technology," to be held at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue (between 116th and 118th Streets) on March 23. The exact location is the teatro of the Academy (2nd floor,) from 7.30-9.30pm, and the participants, besides our own JJ, will include Lucy Shelton, soprano; Elena Park, Editorial and Creative Content, The Metropolitan Opera; Beth Greenberg, stage director, New York City Opera; Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and writer; and Anne Midgette, critic, The New York Times.

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08 March 2007

Bigger than the Empire State Building

La Cieca is delighted to divulge that our publisher JJ has been asked to participate in the panel discussion "On Opera and Technology" at Columbia University on March 23. The discussion is one event of the two-day conference "Technologies of the Diva" presented by The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America. The identities of the other participants of JJ's panel have not been revealed to him yet, but, perhaps in tribute to the blind-item style of La Cieca, the organizers of the conference promise "a well-known soprano," a writer for the New York Times, and "representatives of the Met and NYCO." Mysterious, is it not? For more information on the panel and the conference in general (both are free and open to the public), there's a website.

"There's a reason so many operas are named after their protagonists-- you need a great performer to play a great person. The Metropolitan Opera's current revival of Simon Boccanegra fails mainly because there's a gaping hole where the Boccanegra ought to be." More JJ, this time in Gay City News.

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