Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director



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This week we look back to recent concerts, look ahead to upcoming performance dates, and post a collection of absolutely, totally random bits and pieces we have been collecting for a while and just haven't had a chance to file properly. 



Rachmaninov’s Symphony No 2 – which recording is best?

Premiered in 1908, it was almost 70 years before Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony came in from the cold

David Gutman

12 March 2015


A great performance should banish doubts, combining emotional and structural inevitability with a clean text. For the first three movements, the search feels over before it has begun. Kurt Sanderling’s mono recording, expertly engineered in Berlin rather than Leningrad/St Petersburg, makes no cuts in the middle movements and two tiny snips in the first are easily missed. That its parting shot is scarcely come scritto matters less when line and colour have been so magically varied. Not that there is any lack of heft in the string desks of the Leningrad Philharmonic. Sadly things deteriorate in the finale, sedate even before the coup de grâce of a particularly substantial cut (from 9'35"). Refusing to restore that, Sanderling plumps perversely for the first-movement repeat in his sluggish Philharmonia remake. No matter. His 1956 effort will always be a thriller.

André Previn’s first LSO recording (RCA, 11/66) is generally forgotten. Only after the orchestra’s 1971 visit to Russia and the Far East were the last excisions dropped. Robert Hill, clarinettist on the tour, was playing with the LPO by the time the LSO returned to the recording studio in January 1973, appearing instead on Walter Weller’s rival account. Both ensembles sound committed but Previn’s less frenetic tempo elicits cleaner rhythmic definition in the scherzo, whose big tune now comes twice with its dash of Hollywoodish portamento. Under Previn everything feels that bit tighter. True, the recording’s soft-grained, saturated string sound is too much for some tastes, notwithstanding the band’s evident sincerity and refinement. Where Hill had navigated the Adagio’s endless cantilena with ease, Jack Brymer does so now with unparalleled subtlety. Rachmaninov’s unusually detailed markings confirm that here at least he rejected plainer, less inflected treatment. EMI’s sound engineering has dated a little but the interpretation retains its legendary emotional charge. Previn’s sonically superior retread for Telarc is slower, darker, almost Brahmsian. Incidentally, the conductor did not always adopt a drastic unmarked allargando into the work’s clinching lyrical climax. Might his more urgent Salzburg Festival relay survive on tape?


More intriguing is what at first looks like a vanity project from José Cura with Sinfonia Varsovia. In fact the tenor has his own conception: he makes the repeat in the first movement, phrases discreetly and pushes on as eagerly as Pletnev. The upfront sound, less than natural and not always conducive to real pianissimo, does not fatally detract from an anti-rhetorical reading that feels genuine. And, unlike many full-time conductors, he neither compromises the first movement’s final unison, nor inserts an extra cymbal crash to usher in the finale’s lyrical climax.  (2001 Sinf Varsovia / Cura / Avie AV0022 (2/03))  Also see iTunes....




Cura's Latest iTune Release!







From José Cura:

But the news are even more exiting: in November 2019, gathering forces with the Hungarian Radio Orchestra and Choirs and with a selected group of international singers, we will record my Trypticum of Oratorios: Ecce Homo. We will be working tight during the following weeks to the recording, hoping to release it for Christmas 2019. So, please, HOLD YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!!!



Upcoming Performances



Prague - March 26 & 28


Municipal House, Smetana Hall

26. 3. 2019 - 19:30  --  TICKETS

28. 3. 2019 - 19:30  --  TICKETS


The three-year residency of the world-famous singer, conductor and composer, José Cura, with the FOK has ended, but he continues to have close ties with Prague. Following the nine collaborative projects, in which José fully revealed his versatility, comes a purely operatic project. A summary of his roles that he took around the world, including the roles of Otello, Samson, Tannhäuser and Peter Grimes. His conducting partner will be the Canadian Jacques Lacombe, the chief conductor of Bonn Opera House and Orchestre symphonique de Mulhouse. 

Meeting with the artists: 
28. 3. 2019, 6.15 p.m. – Grégr Hall, Municipal House 
free for visitors of this concert



Note:  BBC Cardiff Singer of the World runs from 15-22 June 2019, and will be streamed live online, and broadcast on BBC TV and radio.


Competitors announced for this year's BBC Cardiff Singer of the World

Previous winners of the competition include Jamie Barton, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Catriona Morison

BBC Magazine

4 March 2019

Freya Parr


20 singers have been selected to compete in the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Now in its 36th year, the biennial competition will see ten men and ten women from 15 countries fight it out to win the £20,000 main cash prize and a concert recital at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

It is not only the main award and title of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World that participants are competing for. The Song Prize finalists are also offered debut concert recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall, with the winner receiving £10,000. The Audience Prize is also up for grabs, with the public voting for their favourite in the concert hall, online and by phone. This award is dedicated to the late baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the former Cardiff Singer of the World winner who died in 2017.

BBC Cardiff Singer has not just been responsible for helping launch the career of Hvorostovsky. Other former winners to have gone on to great things include the Finnish soprano Karita Mattila and, more recently, US mezzo Jamie Barton. Those who came close but didn't actually take home the winner's trophy, meanwhile, include Bryn Terfel, who lost out to Hvorostovsky in 1989.

The main competition sees singers perform in four rounds, judged by a panel including opera director David Poutney and Grange Park Opera founder Wasfi Kani, alongside singers tenor/baritone [sic] José Cura, soprano Felicity Lott and mezzo Frederica von Stade. The performances take place in Cardiff’s St David’s Hall, accompanied by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, under the baton of Ewa Strusińska, as well as the Welsh National Opera Orchestra with Ariane Matiakh.

‘This year we’re offering live TV broadcasting and streaming for the first time, increased prize money and career-enhancing recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre’, says David Jackson, artistic director of the competition.

List of singers:

Guadalupe Barrientos (mezzo-soprano), Argentina

Lauren Fagan (soprano), Australia

Camila Titinger (soprano), Brazil

Mingjie Lei (tenor), China

Katie Bray (mezzo-soprano), England

Adriana Gonzalez (soprano), Guatemala

Jorge Espino (baritone), Mexico

Badral Chuluunbaatar (baritone), Mongolia

Luis Gomes (tenor), Portugal

Roman Arndt (tenor), Russia

Karina Kherunts (mezzo-soprano), Russia

Yulia Mennibaeva (mezzo-soprano), Russia

Owen Metsileng (tenor), South Africa

Leonardo Lee (baritone), South Korea

Sooyeon Lee (soprano), South Korea

Lena Belkina (mezzo-soprano), Ukraine

Andrei Kymach (baritone), Ukraine

Patrick Guetti (bass), US

Richard Ollarsaba (bass-baritone), US

Angharad Lyddon (mezzo-soprano), Wales





Giacomo Puccini:


Opera in three acts

7 June (Friday) and 9 June (Sunday ) 2019 at 8 p.m.

Margaret Island Open-Air Stage

Puccini’s last and perhaps most astonishing work is his first opera based on a fairy tale, but with burning, repressed romantic desire at its core. The premiere of this frenetic and epic musical piece features star soloists such as the excellent young Romanian soprano Cristina Pasaroiu and Argentine opera legend José Cura in both the lead and title roles. The story of the Chinese princess actually comes from a Persian tale. Besides Gozzi, Schiller also adapted it. Puccini was very fond of the story and took an active part in the work of his librettists, G. Adami and R. Simoni. “Of all Gozzi’s stage works, I consider Turandot the most natural and human of Gozzi’s plays,” the conductor wrote to Adami in 1920. The work features an ambitious construction and a distinct, exotic sound, but all this is overshadowed by the final duet and grandiose lyricism of the tale, which was left without a finale. The opera was finally finished by Puccini’s pupil and friend, Franco Alcano, on the basis of Puccini’s precise notes. Its world premiere was in Milan’s La Scala in 1926.






































Totally Random Stuff











































2019 Performance Calendar









Conductor:  Rodrigo & Beethoven 4th

Auritori Municipal Enric Granados




Singer / Conductor

Union Hall




Singer:  Argentinean songs

Music Academy Grand Hall



8, 9

Conductor:  Piazzola, Cura, Rachmaninov

La Filature / Grande Salle




Concert: Singer

Tchaikovsky Conservatory Big Hall



26, 28

Concert: Singer

Smetana Hall




Conductor: Rozycky’s Anhelli – Puccini’s Suor Angelica in concert




7, 9


Margaret Island



15 - 22

BBC Cardiff Singer of the world / Member of Jury

St David's Hall





Cologne Opera House



3, 5, 11, 14


Cologne Opera House





Teatro Antico Plovdiv



12, 14

Andrea Chénier

Royal Opera House




Conductor:  Beethoven’s 9th

Royal Opera House




Concert:  Singer





Conductor: Beethoven & Cura

St Stephen Basilica




Conductor:  Verdi’s Requiem

Müpa (Palace of Arts Budapest)














Find Cura on Wikipedia!


Want to know more about José Cura?  Check out his Wikipedia page (click on the photo and find out such neat things as.....

  • Full name:  José Luis Victor Cura Gómez
  • First starring role:  Bibalo's Signorina Julia, Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi, Trieste, Italy, 1993
  • First performance in US:  Giordano's Fedora, Chicago Lyric, USA, 1994



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Last Updated:  Sunday, March 17, 2019  © Copyright: Kira