James Jorden

Obituary of James Glenn Jorden

James Glenn Jorden, 69, of Sunnyside, N.Y., passed away on Oct. 2, 2023, at home. James was born on Aug. 6, 1954, in Opelousas, La., to Billy Wayne Jorden and Glenora Jory Jorden. He graduated from Eunice (La.) High School and Louisiana State University, where he majored in theater. James's love of music and theater was inspired by his mother, a high school teacher, amateur director/actress and school newspaper adviser — his first exposure to journalism. At a young age, he studied theater in the Governor's Program for Gifted Children at McNeese State University, Lake Charles, La. After college, he worked as a teacher and theater director in Louisiana before moving to New York City in the 1980s where he worked backstage on productions, often doing hair and makeup. For many years, he worked as a legal secretary and, for a time, as web producer covering health issues for Fox News. But James is best known as the founder and editor of Parterre Box, an opera fan zine that he created at home in 1993 and which later evolved into a widely read website known for its breaking news, reviews and gossip. The New York Times called James "a feisty, influential writer and editor who brought together high culture, punk aesthetics and gleeful camp in his opera zine-turned-website." During his 20-plus year career as an opera critic, he wrote for The New York Times, New York Post, The New York Observer, Opera, Gay City News, Opera Now, Musical America and other publications. He was also a repeat guest on National Public Radio. James occasionally directed opera, including what he called "three unsuccessful productions of Don Giovanni," a work to which he hoped to return someday. In the early 2000s, he produced several dinner theater productions in New York. He was a guest lecturer on opera at several conferences and New York-area universities. A champion of new talent, James loved mentoring young people pursuing careers in opera, music and writing, as well as penning song lyrics and jokes for friends in the performing arts. James is survived by brothers John Duncan Jorden of Spring, Texas, and Justin Thomas Jorden of Lake Charles, La. He was preceded in death by his parents. A family visitation will be held in Eunice, La., at a later date, with a memorial celebration planned for New York City later this year. Memorials in James's honor may be made to The Trevor Project https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
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