Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director

 

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More retrospectives--this time from the fabulous year 2006, when José Cura performed in some of our most favorite operas:  Fanciulla, Otello, Turandot, Stiffelio, Don Carlo...the list goes on.  José Cura was at the beginning of a remarkable period, one that continues today, where his talents and capabilities were used to create magic on stage.  We were so happy to be at just a few of these evenings.

We are also still remembering with fondness our trip to Vienna for Fanciulla--the production was improved considerably with the presence of THE Dick Johnson on stage.  José Cura can sing this role with the authenticity of no other--the perfect role for him both physically and vocally.

And then we had the true pleasure of our first symphonic performance with José Cura on the podium.  While all of us hope he sings for long and often, there is no doubt that conductor Cura provides the heart and soul of an orchestrated piece.  We hope to immerse ourselves in the experience again.

 
 

 

 

A Conductor Sings with His Hands - José Cura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Act II (Part II)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Bravo,
Cura!

 

 

2006

Retrospective

 
 

Home | About | Argentina | Awards | Bio | Calendar | Concerts | Discography | Media | News and Updates | Notable Quotables | Opera Work | Photos | Prague Artist in Residency 2015-2018 | Press | Ask Me - José Cura Answers

 


 

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Andrea Chénier

Bologna

Sound Snippets from the live broadcast, 15 January 2006

 

Improvviso (long)

 

Act II excerpt

 

Act II duet

 

Come un bel di di maggio

 

Act IV ending

 

José Cura
Maria Guleghina
Carlo Guelfi

Scene from Bologna production of Andrea Chénier Jan 06

 

 

 

 

DVD Specs:

Studio: TDK
Production Year: 2006
Release Date: 8/1/2006

Length: 123 mins
Rating: NR
 

Packaging: Keep Case
Number of Discs: 1
Disc: SS-DL
Item Code: NOADVWWOPACHD
UPC Code: 824121001827
 

 

Scene from Bologna production of Andrea Chénier Jan 06

 

 

Teatro Communale di Bologna

 

 

   

 

                   Scene from Bologna production of Andrea Chénier Jan 06                 Scene from Bologna production of Andrea Chénier Jan 06        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Glowing Reviews for José Cura's Performance in Andréa Chénier (Bologna and Tokyo)

 

Andrea Chénier, DVD:  'This production's Chénier is the Argentine tenor José Cura. He sang Chénier's two major arias on his "Verismo" CD, and his performance here remains similar – heroic, yet thoughtful. This is a much subtler interpretation than Mario del Monaco's and Corelli's. Cura is handsome, credible, and, at times, quite touching. (I confess to getting choked up during "Un dì, all'azzurro spazio.") .....' Raymond Tuttle, Classical Net

 

Andrea Chénier, DVD:  'Passion is what [Cura] emits in this role from the very first appearance, with a glowing Un di all’azzurro spazio. He sings the furious Si fu soldato in the trial scene (act III) with no safety net. The sad Come un bel di di maggio in the last act is begun almost as a dream, lightly sung with some embellishments to the line before he opens out to a heartfelt, glorious climax, greeted with ovations from the audience. By his side, just as in the La Scala Manon Lescaut, he has the charming, expressive, warm Maria Guleghina, whose vibrant voice is a perfect foil for Cura’s impassioned Chenier.'  Göran Forsling,  Music Web International

 

Andrea Chénier, DVD:  'This 2006 performance finds José Cura fully immersed in the drama of the title role. Chénier's Act II dialogue with Roucher makes an especially powerful impression, with the poet obviously in agony not knowing the identity of the woman who wrote to him. The tenor offers gratifyingly secure vocalism throughout, giving maximum vocal thrill to all the set-pieces.' Roger Pines, Opera News, Dec 2006

Andrea Chénier, Japan, June 2006:  "The performance by José Cura as Andrea Chénier added a new aspect to the opera.  Maddalena could not help devotedly loving the song of the masculine and revolutionary poet with a tender heart."  Ongaku no tomo, June 2006

Andrea Chénier, Japan, June 2006:  "Cura's charm fully blooms in Andrea Chenier."   Mostly Classic, June 2006

Andrea Chénier, Bologna, Feb 2006:  'A Perfect Andrea Cheníer, with José Cura at his best.' After [what seems] years José Cura has put down his baton and returned to the stage in a role that, with his lirico spinto voice and handsome looks, leaves the impression was written specifically for him. His return is marked by newly formed brilliance and expressive new maturity…only in rhythmic order does he remain the ballet dancer of the past.  Cura sings “Improvviso,” which is certainly not a piece of candy in its phrasing, lyricism and fervor, with great ease (“drinks it down like a pair of fresh eggs”) and the audience erupted in applause.  In his farewell to life, “Come un bel dí di maggio,” he offers soaring high notes held with long breath but also softness and mezzo voce, dynamics this singer wouldn’t have been able to manage just a few years ago. Alberto Cantú, Il Giornale, 2005

 

 

   

 

 

And in Japan....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

José Cura and Maria Guleghina in Bologna's Andrea Chenier                        José Cura and Maria Ghuleghina in Bologna's Andrea Chenier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
       

                 

                

     

 


 

To Thine Own Self Be True
An Interview With José Cura

 

 

Classical Singer, January 2006 edition

I first saw José Cura on stage in March 2005, in a performance of Camille Saint-Saens’ Samson et Dalila at the Metropolitan Opera. I remember being astounded, discovering facets of Samson I never knew existed. Mr. Cura presented a character so rich in nuance and psychological detail that his portrayal transformed Samson into an accessible and understandable human being, establishing a deep connection with the audience. Having also heard some of Mr. Cura’s recorded work, I remain an impressed witness to his abiding commitment to uncovering the absolute truth of the character and the music—and through his interpretation, bringing this detailed truth to light.

From singing to conducting, from composing to running his own management and recording company, this astonishingly complete musician is a living example that everything is possible, as long as you stay true to your own talents and are willing to work hard without compromising. In addition, Mr. Cura proves that there is always time for everything—he generously donates his energy and knowledge to do master classes, to raise scholarship funds for singers, and to pursue yet another talent: photography.

In the words of the 14th century Persian poet, Hafiz, an artist is: “Someone who can pour light into a cup, then raise it to quench the thirst for truth.” José Cura is indeed a pure artist, by far one of the most truthful and uncompromising artists today, always maintaining his integrity intact, in art as well as in life.

 

Did you grow up in a musical environment?

I grew up in a musical environment, but not in an environment of musicians. My mother had no prejudices when it came to music. She would switch from Beethoven to Sinatra without any kind of discrimination. That kind of openness towards music is hard to find today.

At first, I knew only that there is good or bad music, it didn’t matter if it was pop or classical. My mother encouraged my open-minded view because my house was always full of good music of all kinds. My father used to play the piano for pure pleasure, having taken piano lessons, like many kids in the ‘50s.

When you began focusing on composition and conducting at the age of 12, were you aware that you had a voice? Did you like to sing?

I was singing since I was 12 or 13, in several groups: quartets, octets, etc. We did jazz [and] spirituals, among other styles. Then I sang in choirs, old music like Palestrina, for example. So I was always singing, but never in an operatic way. Yes, I was completely dedicated to composition and conducting; that is still my vocation. Of course, there can be a difference between vocation and profession. If you are lucky, your vocation is your profession. But I only started to sing lyrically when I was 21 or 22. I had problems; I couldn’t find a proper teacher.

What kind of problems did you have?

I think most singers know that to find the right teacher is a great problem. Certain people say: “Oh, today we don’t have any good teachers!” But these people also say that there are no good singers—so they are actually transferring the invented problem of not having good singers to saying that there are no good teachers. Well, let me tell you something: There have never been just good teachers or just bad teachers! You might already know that an extremely good teacher for somebody can be an awful teacher for somebody else.

The voice is not an instrument where you can easily “see” what is going wrong. Singing is a very empirical thing, so you never really know what is happening, unless there is an extremely rich and harmonious human communication between the teacher and the student. If the teacher is able to go inside the student’s being and give him or her a couple of clues about what to do or how to do it, then that teacher is the right one for that person. If you find a teacher who has a good chemistry with you, who understands your body and your voice, and on top of that is also a great technician, then of course, you are in heaven!

Personally, I had many problems, until I found somebody who, for one year, dared to “dig” inside my body, my cords, my larynx. This was when I was 26 or 27 in Argentina. Before that, every other teacher I had tried was damaging my voice badly.

When you found the right teacher, did you do a great deal of technical work with him?

Well, we worked for a year. I have always been a rebel in my life, self-taught in almost everything I do. I always wanted to carve my way, in my own style. But this teacher helped me discover and understand my instrument. He didn’t change it; he didn’t try to shape what was the rough prototype of my voice into an artist. So, from there on, I took charge of my own instrument, and kept asking myself: “Now that I understand how it feels, what do I have to do, what do I have to keep feeling? How do I have to mold my understanding of the voice into the musician that I am, in order to continue on my own path?”

Of course, when you do things alone, it takes a lot of time. It’s very dangerous, and you hit your head against the wall again and again! I was lucky, because I was always surrounded by great musicians, and by people with great ears who said to me: “This is not good; check it!” Or: “I don’t know what you have to do, but this doesn’t sound nice.”

It’s interesting, when you read the reviews of my career from the start to today, you understand that in the beginning, I was developing myself within the process of performing. I was trying to identify with my own way of expressing and my own body.

In the early reviews, for example, you read a lot that: “Cura doesn’t have a technique.” And I always thought: “Wait a minute, you cannot handle such a career as I have had from the beginning, and still be able to speak after singing a Samson or an Otello, if you don’t have a technique!” In a couple of years, you would be out, completely aphonic and unable to sing one note.

On the other hand, I am happy to attribute to the lines of those reviews, [which said] I don’t have a technique, the fact that I have my own technique! I think that singers can learn a lot from you when it comes facing unfair reviews.

The ideal for a singer is to have his or her own technique. Singers are not like instrumentalists. A singer is an entity in himself or herself. You cannot apply the same resources to everybody. That is the main challenge of being a singer, and of growing from rough material to a professional. And that is also the big challenge of finding a good teacher.

It’s not only about knowing where to place the notes and how to do scales—but it’s hard not to get trapped in that! Don’t you think that a teacher needs to make a singer aware of physical things that may inhibit the best result from that singer? Yes, but in moderation!

What happens a lot is that we forget the fact that singing is a natural thing. In order to sing, you have to breathe; in order to live, you have to breathe. Singing is a natural process that you need to develop, not invent.

 

So, you’re saying that the natural act of singing is already present in each singer, but it’s more or less disguised, and the work involves uncovering this natural gift rather than “building” it?

Exactly! For me, the key is this: We cannot invent singing, because there is nothing to invent. You need to develop what is inside the person. It’s like when you are an athlete, and you have a trainer who trains you how to run as fast as you can, to break the records and be one of the top athletes. He is not teaching you to run in the basic sense of: “one leg goes in front of the other one!” That’s a natural motion. We don’t have to invent that. He will teach you how to train your muscles, how to articulate your knees, in order to obtain the maximum result from that which is a natural thing for a human being, like running, in this case.

That is why teachers fail when they take somebody and they try to invent a voice. No! As a teacher, you have to take your time to understand what is there. Just start with that and try to get the best out of what your student already has!

What was your existing core, or your starting point?

I’ve always been an athlete, even close to being a professional, before the beginning of my career. My starting point was to understand that there is a direct relationship—not to say identical—between the body that you use for sports and the body you use for singing. It’s the same body. When you sing, you use muscles, blood, tendons, bones and fluids—all the things you use when you go to the gym, or when you play a tennis match.

A singer is not somebody with a crystal bird in the larynx, so [that] you can push a button and all of a sudden the voice comes out! No, it’s a physical thing. That’s why many things have to do with the cycle of glucose and lactic acid, things that people wouldn’t normally think about.

For example, there are singers who don’t understand what is going on when they start vocalizing, and after 10 minutes, they get hoarse and can’t speak anymore. Then they take a short break—and they can sing again, and they have no idea why. It’s very simple. You just burned the glucose in the muscle and you have lactic acid as garbage, and the liver needs to clear the lactic acid and add glucose again.

The same happens when you do push-ups, for example, and after the twelfth push-up, you can’t move anymore, because all your muscles are burning. But if you stop for five minutes, the lactic acid is replaced by glucose, and then you can do 10 more push-ups like a miracle. The body is just doing its job.

It’s the same with singing. Once you see this relationship, once you understand that it’s very much about muscles and blood and physicality, you will face the fears of having to sing with a completely different mind.

People say: “I have to warm up my voice.” You don’t warm up your voice, because the voice is an intangible thing. You warm up the muscles that produce a sound which you call ‘“voice.” You warm up those muscles in the same way an athlete would warm up his body for a competition, trying to put into motion the circuit of glucose and lactic acid, so that the energy will be there. Once you understand that, your whole life as a singer changes.

In the beginning you sang in Teatro Colón in the choir. How did that experience develop you as a singer?

I think that every singer who wants to be a soloist has to spend some years singing in the choir. That is some of the best training you can get. You learn how to be on stage. You learn about makeup, and costumes, and how to walk, how to follow the conductor. You can take some risks with your voice and experiment a little, because whatever happens, you are covered.

If you are a tenor in a big choir where there are 20 to 40 tenors, you can try diminuendo, crescendo and some things that if you were alone you wouldn’t dare to try, because you might be afraid your voice will break. So you can use the choir as a territory of experiences for the future. Not to mention that by singing in the choir of a big opera house, you have the chance of sharing the stage with great artists. You are there when they sing, and you see what they do. You learn how they breathe, and how they move their mouths. You are in rehearsals, you see their problems, you watch how they struggle to obtain a result, and you learn how to fix certain things. It’s a really great experience!

You made your operatic debut in a few small roles, until the bigger role of Jean in Miss Julie, in March 1993. Is that where your career started taking off?

Well, yes. It’s a weird thing, that a career takes off with a completely unknown opera that I’ve never repeated since. Some people who saw me then started to think about the possibility that “maybe this guy could be somebody interesting to follow.”

You were 30 at that time.

Yes. You’ve been counting the years. Mamma mia!

Do you think it’s better for a singer to start a little later, rather than throwing themselves out there at 22 or 23?

It’s not about when you start … it’s about what you have inside your head to deal with your life and your career, which has nothing to do with when you start, or with age. This is like getting married. If you feel that you have to get married at 22, even if everybody says that you are too young, then you get married at 22. I got married at 22! I’ve been married for 20 years—I have three kids and I am the happiest man. So, it worked!

On the contrary, I started to sing very late, and that worked too! It depends on when it comes. The train passes in front of you, and if you don’t jump on it, maybe there won’t be another train. But it has to happen at the right time. There are no rules. You just have to keep your senses on alert and be ready to jump if the occasion is there. And be intelligent enough to understand if you are up to the challenge of a certain occasion or not, because that can also be tricky.

When I did my debut in Otello, I was 34, and that was a daring thing to do. There I was with Maestro [Claudio] Abbado, live in front of the world, and I thought: “I cannot lose this chance!” So what I had to do was to sing Otello like a 34-year-old guy. I couldn’t intoxicate my interpretation with interpretations of 45-, 50- and 60-year-old tenors who have great experience with the role and whom I couldn’t compare to. Because if I did that, by the end of the first act, I would have been kaput! So I created a very lyrical Otello, based more on stage presence and acting, rather than the volume of the voice. Many said: “But this is not Otello, this is too lyric.” It was lyric, of course, but what can you do when you are 34?

It was your own interpretation.

It wasn’t a set interpretation that I will keep forever. It was a guy of 34 taking this risk in a role that is emblematic for a tenor; a role that is very dangerous and very difficult, and which you are mature for when you are 45.

It’s about taking calculated risks and surviving to tell about it. And that created a very nice image: The first tenor in the history of opera to make his debut in Otello at 34 in a live broadcast, which is absolutely daring and irresponsible!

Every tenor I know made his debut in Otello in a more or less hidden way, to be sure that they could cope with the role—and when they knew that they could do it, the second [Otello] was more in the open. I went for it at 34, and I did it in my way at that time. So what was at the time a surprise for critics, now it is understood as a demonstration of intelligence, to have done it like that and then to live and be here to speak with you about it!

 

You manage your career yourself through your own management agency. Did you have an agent when you started?

When I started I had agents like everybody—until I discovered certain traits in some of them …

Like what?

I will not go too much into detail because it’s not necessary. Actually, it would serve as advice for singers in terms of what to watch out for when they have an agent.

Singers have to [make sure] that the agent is honest. At the time, I was getting fed up with the image they were trying to create of me—“sex symbol of the opera”—something that is very nice at first glance, but then you understand that it is superficial. I didn’t spend 30 years of my life to become a musician and only be considered because I am kind of good-looking, for goodness’ sake! That is frustrating.

You are very good looking! And don’t tell me that doesn’t help at all!

Yeah, OK, but that is still frustrating. You are a woman and you know how it feels when people consider you because you are pretty, and they forget that you may also be intelligent, by the way. And that’s the case with a lot of good-looking women, and men. So, it took me several years to convince people of the fact that I was a serious musician, and that nothing that happens on stage or in my career is a result of coincidence, or chance, or the good luck of a purely gifted person, an overnight sensation—the typical media formula. On the contrary, it’s the result of 30 years of hard work!

Of course, thank God I have these talents, but I’ve worked very hard to develop them. If, on top of that, I am considered to be good-looking on stage and be a good actor, that makes me happy too. It’s the cherry on top of the cake, but it’s not the cake!

Then how do you see the importance of looks for this career?

Honestly, I think that if you look good, it is better. Not to the point that the looks will make your career if you are not a good singer, because then it is not better, it’s worse. But from my own experience, I can tell you there’s no way to sing roles such as Samson or Otello only with your good looks, because you won’t get to the end of the second act. OK, you are good-looking, but go on stage and show me what you can do! And then you will know the truth about a singer.

The paradox of opera is that for one reason or another, great voices don’t always go with great looks. You can make a very good actor out of a good-looking guy, even if he’s not good from the beginning. But you cannot put a voice in a good-looking guy, if the voice is not there.

This is where you need flexibility. If you have a great voice in front of you, the voice comes first. But there is another important fact to consider. I say this to everybody who has a great voice: Be careful not to rely on the fact that you have such a great voice, so that you do nothing more. Do not use that excuse to neglect the way you look, to start eating like a pig, to not dress properly, or not act well on stage! Because then you become a bad artist, you just become a voice, and you break the idea of the integral performer.

An integral performer is not somebody who is pretty. It’s somebody who is professional enough to obtain from his own body as much as his own body can give. And each one of us has to find his or her limit. There’s no way everybody can be good-looking, or smart, or fit. That’s not the point. What you have to do is just face yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself, and see what you can improve. Then you try to improve the way you look, and you get to the point when you know you tried your best and you are happy with yourself. But when you use having a great voice as a pretext to ignore the remaining aspects of what is to be a professional whose body is the instrument of work, then you are not a complete professional and you are giving a very bad example.

It’s not about how you look, or how pretty you are compared to somebody else. It’s about you, in honesty with your instrument, with your body, with yourself—not trying to be the best, but as good as you can be! Of course, there are medical problems which are difficult to deal with and have an effect on your looks, but in a normal situation, an ideal artist obtains from his instrument the best he can in every way. That is an artist’s responsibility.

When did you decide to start your own management company?

In 1999, certain things happened. I had a couple of very disgusting legal situations with people who wanted to obtain the most from me without doing anything. So I decided to cut with everybody and to be my own man. This cost me three to four years of nightmares.

From 1999 to the beginning of 2004, I [was] under the harshest of … attacks from many different sources: people calling theaters to convince artistic directors not to engage me, and journalists being paid to write that I was history, that I was a falling star. But we persisted very hard, and we created my own production company with a branch for my own management. … In 2001, we created my own record company, we have three records now in the catalog, and they’re very successful.

A few months ago, we added two new branches: one is productions/special events. Our company is open for theaters or international organizations who want to engage us to create and produce shows for them. After many colleagues have seen the way my company operates, they asked us: “Why don’t you open a managing branch for other singers?” So we did, and we are very happy with this new branch. We already have many very talented young artists.

Today, a lot of things are changing; subsidies are being taken away from theaters, and business has changed a lot. Record companies now are not doing as well as they were years ago. Certain agencies are selling their buildings because they cannot pay the rent anymore, and they are moving into small offices.

In the actual picture of how show business is reshaping itself, I am very happy to say that my company is among the pioneers of what is probably going to be the new way of doing show business. After four years of struggle, we are now successful and very happy with our work. We have expanded and moved into new offices, and we are building our own recording studio.

I never thought I would become an impresario, but here I am! And the funny thing is that now I am receiving calls from several theaters that want me to be artistic director. So that is opening to me much faster than I thought.
 

Between singing, conducting, managing your own company, recording, composing, do you even have time to sleep?

Well, I have a group of people working with me and for me. I don’t do everything! For example, I don’t manage the careers of the singers on my roster. I observe and I am consulted when somebody new is going to be part of the company. I’ve conducted a great deal in the past, and finally, I am coming back to what was supposed to be my vocation: to be a conductor. The singing was an accident in my life—a very happy accident—but not the reason why I became a musician.

This year I am conducting a lot, and making my debut in four or five new symphonic works. I’m conducting Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, [both] Kodai’s and Bruckner’s Te Deum, Brahms’ Fourth Symphony, Verdi’s Vespri Siciliani and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

Do you have time for any hobbies?

Actually, I’ve always been interested in photography as my hobby, as my way out. I am a pretty good photographer. I don’t say that I am the Richard Avedon of the lyric panorama—but pictures can also be interesting to understand what goes through the head of the photographer. So in my case, maybe it could be the ultimate way for my fans to comprehend certain things. Now I have a Swiss publisher who has approached my company to ask for the possibility of releasing a book of my photographs, whenever I am ready for that. It’s a big step!

Do you compose for voice?

My favorite thing is to compose for voices and orchestra at the same time, mainly choral symphonic music, probably because it’s the most complete of the ways you write music. You have the best of all worlds: the orchestra and the voice, all together in one.

What is your philosophy of life in general?

One thing I can tell you—and this has been my challenge since the beginning—trying not to be overwhelmed by the fact that because I have been given several different talents, there is the danger of becoming mediocre in all of them. [I’m] following [the dictum of] Einstein, who said: “If you look for different results, do not always do the same things!”

Well, you know the expression: “Jack of all trades; master of none!” How do you avoid that?

By working very, very, very hard and giving time to each of my talents, sometimes giving more importance to one of them in a certain period and putting the other ones aside, and so on—alternating. On the other hand, if you discover that you have several talents and you put most of them aside to concentrate on one, at the end of your life, you will feel very bad. You will know that you gave up your other gifts, just for the fear of not being able to face them all… at the same time! Or what’s even worse, you gave them up for the comfort of not having to work double or triple in order to maintain all of them at the same level.

But if people do so many things at once, then how can they become excellent at something?

If you only do one thing and you want to be perfect just in that one, the “bad news” is that nobody is perfect. The very “bad news” is that there is always somebody who is better than you. So at the end of your life, you will turn around and you will see: “OK, I have not been perfect as I wanted, because it is impossible, but I’ve given up a lot of other chances because I was a coward.”

I am not trying to pontificate here. What I am saying is that each individual has to make his own decisions and take his own risks, and forget about what other people say when they judge your behavior. Just go for it, and be responsible for your achievements and for your mistakes.

I prefer to suffer today the attacks and the criticisms of people saying that I am doing too many things, rather than just doing one thing, and at the end of my life, having to face God and explain to him why I have put aside all the other talents he gave me. If I have to deal with somebody’s judgment, I prefer to deal with human beings rather than with God!

How do you balance all this activity and your family life?

My company is very close to my house, so when I am there, I am in both places at the same time. The company’s general administrator is my wife, so we are always working together for the company.

I am making many sacrifices to be in my house as much as possible. For example, last week I did my last performance in New York on Saturday. I took a plane on Sunday—I went to Madrid for five days, which is not around the corner exactly—and then I took a plane back to New York to finish the remaining performances. That is exhausting! I sang the performance two days ago with a big jet lag. But well, that’s the price you have to pay if you want to be a good parent, and I happily pay it.

What do you do for that? Try to be as healthy and as fit as you can, and to have the most reliable technique possible in order to face those demands. Not everybody is capable of identifying with what I do, because sometimes it is extreme. But it’s working very well, because my family is great and we’re very united. I am not a father who brings up his kids by telephone.

How old are your children?

Seventeen, 12, and 9.

Do you teach at all?

No, but I love to do master classes. I did a master class at Indiana University in Bloomington last year and it was beautiful! We had 500 kids there. It was two days, very intense, 5-6 hours each, and it was so sweet to see all that talent.

I also did a master class at the end of 2004 in Russia, in Yekaterinburg in the conservatory. They had 1,000 or more people attending—that was a killer! Such incredible voices and talented people.

It’s beautiful to see all these kids, both here and in Russia, and I am ready to fight whoever insists that there are no voices today as there were in the past. That is BS that certain people say only to prove that they are unique!

We are not unique! There are great voices out there, and we just need to find them and help them.

When you teach a master class, what is your approach?

I don’t have an approach. I am very instinctive, so I don’t have a plan or an idea when I go. I just take the temperature—so to speak—of the people, and I adapt to what I feel they need. Every person has different needs and wants to hear different things, so I just go there and say: ‘“Here I am; I am all yours!”

How do you prepare for roles?

Studying a lot, as usual.

Do you read related materials too?

Yes, of course, depending on the role. There are certain roles … you can really dig inside psychologically, like Don Carlo, Canio, Samson or Otello. There are other roles, like Calaf in Turandot for example, where if you have a nice presence and you sing well, it’s already enough. You can maybe find two or three colors, but it’s not such a rich character in terms of psychological background.

Then, if the character is very physical—like the Samson I am doing now, for example—I try to be as fit as I can to avoid accidents on stage, like twisting my back, for example, when they kick me around.

You are by far the most physical Samson I have ever seen.

When I am waiting to go on stage, between the millstone scene and after the Bacchanale, I am actually stretching and warming up as a dancer, to be ready for this very physical scene.

What kind of sports do you do right now?

I have no time for sports right now. I just try to do some push-ups sometimes to “keep the blood going.” Life in hotels, airplanes, and rehearsal rooms—which are almost always located three floors or more below ground level—is not the easiest thing to deal with if you want to stay more or less fit.

Any parting words of advice for our readers?

I would not say “good luck,” because I don’t believe in luck. I believe in being prepared. Luck is to be in the middle of the desert dying of thirst and all of a sudden having a short shower on your head. That is good luck! But if you don’t have a glass to gather the water, you lose the water. The glass has to be prepared.

Many people think that they didn’t have a career because they didn’t have the luck. Some say: “Oh, Mr. Cura, he’s very lucky, he’s been at the proper time in the proper place.”

No, no, no! Wait a minute! I moved from Argentina to Europe in 1991. I worked for two or three years in restaurants—my wife worked with me, washing dishes—and we did many things that a lot of people wouldn’t even think about doing. We had a very hard life. We lived in a garage for one year because we couldn’t pay the rent, and we heated the garage with a small fire, with me gathering wood in the middle of the night!

In 1990, one year before going to Europe, I was singing in commercial centers in Argentina, with my hat on the floor for coins! So don’t tell me about pure luck, because that is garbage! It is all about hard work! And then, be sure that through your hard work and preparation, the moment when you have that short shower on your head in the middle of the desert, you [are carrying] the biggest glass possible to gather as much water as you can.

That is my advice. Don’t live on dreams, don’t live thinking that one day somebody will knock on your door and say: “Hey, you’re the greatest on the earth, we are waiting for you—come!” That doesn’t exist. [That happens] only in movies—unless you do certain things that I don’t wish anybody to do, to make certain compromises at certain levels in order to start a career, compromises that could go from economical to physical ones. I know many of those situations, but I also know that all of them who started their careers by compromising lasted two or three years, and they were gone.

The advice of someone who’s been on stage for 30 years—15 of them professionally—is: Do not compromise! Just be as good as you can. And know where your limits are!

All the time I hear people saying: “I am the greatest artist on earth, but because nobody knows it, nobody gives me a chance.” That’s not true, because if you put many of those who say that on stage to do a solo, they can’t open their mouths for being too afraid or too unprepared. I am generalizing just for the sake of giving you an example, of course, but the problem remains.

Everyone can be great in the shower! My advice then? Speak less and do more!

 

 

February  2006

 

Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

 

 

Cura es Otelo  - EL PAÍS

 

A Memorable Evening    - Concert Classic

 

An Otello to Enjoy- La Razon    

   

 

 

To speak of Otello is to speak of voice. José Cura has the vocal coloring, the power and strength, but above all the dramatic temperament that this colossal Verdi character demands. His best weapon, over and above technique and style, is his stage presence. In his visceral interpretation, the Argentine tenor strips the character of all nobility and puts himself into his skin and tortured psychology in such a way that he fills the stage and tirelessly maintains the dramatic tension until the anguished finale. Cura is Otello. It’s as simple as that.  - EL PAÍS

 

Rehearsal, Barcelona Otello, February 2006        

 

 

Label: Opus Arte DVD

Catalogue No: OA0963D

Barcode: 809478009634

Otello DVD 

 

DVD now available in Europe

 

Otello

Barcelona

 

CAST: 

 José Cura
 
Krassimira Stoyanova
 
Lado Ataneli
 
Vittorio Grigolo
 
Ketevan Kemoklidze

 

 

Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

 

The Liceu has done nice work in presenting ‘Otello’with one of the best teams possible at present. To start with, there is José Cura in the leading role...Cura proved himself an excellent actor on stage, which, in this Shakespearean drama, is much to be thankful for. His powerful voice, moments of intensity and sense for the dramatic made for a role of great vibrancy. - La Vangardia

José Cura, Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

Cura’s Otello is a performance that the Liceu audiences will remember for a long time: a profoundly felt, well considered depiction of a man’s descent into madness, paired with a true vocal tour de force. Cura’s tenor is sometimes strained and the sound is not always pretty, but his technique and the communicative powers are astounding. - Opera News

 
 

"José Cura can be a real ham but nowadays, there is simply no one else who knows how to make so much out of the Venetian Moor. He sustains the character vocally and dramatically.  He was stunning in an impressive ‘Esultate!’. He glossed over a few notes in the love duet in order to make it more accessible but he was irreproachable in the duets with Iago and Desdemona as well as in his two great solo scenes. It is a pleasure to be able to listen to an Otello like that... " - La Razón

 

 

José Cura, Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

Sound Snippets

Si, pel ciel

Dio mi potevi scagliar

 Niun mi tema

 

"This Verdi masterpiece is only mounted when the right interpreter can take the lead; in this case, that lead was the singer considered to be the most outstanding Otello of the moment, José Cura, who resisted the usual ‘Del Monaco’ interpretation to fill his character with edge, pianissimos, and middle voice.  That’s not to say everything was taken care of, perhaps too much so, which affected the emotional highs when he was vocally generous, when he used that steel and silver-bell timbre that is so unique to Cura.  The best of his beautiful singing voice lay in the highest notes, better, when he sings ‘forte;’ that, in addition to being a stage angel, makes him a theatrical winner."  - ABC

 

Rehearsal, Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

Rehearsal, Barcelona Otello, February 2006
In the title role, José Cura demonstrated that he is currently one of the best interpreters of Otello on the international stage. He relied on his middle voice and pianissimos, leaving for specific moments the vocal generosity required by the role.  He is prone to use vocal excess to disguise the fact that the singing line is not properly projected in some passages.  In spite of that, and thanks to his charisma and great theatrical gifts, Cura offered an exciting Otello.  - Canto Lirico

 

 

 

 

José Cura and Krassimira Stoyanova, Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the person of José Cura, Willy Decker has a truly first-rate artist at his disposal to portray this complex being that is under fire every which way. The tenor, at his peak in terms of his voice as well as his expressiveness, lives the role, and the way in which he takes over and fills the space (on stage) is exceptional. His metallic timbre with its burnished sparkle, his projection and the intensity of his accentuation are ideally suited to his character, with whom he seems to have become identified ever since he took on the role in 1997.

 

Of sensual charm and animal magnetism in the love duet, the actor later gives free reign to his uncertainties and to his pain in terrible epileptic fits, where he whimpers, moans, groans and twists down on the ground with confounding realism. Praying, uttering blasphemies, and clinging to a simple, omnipresent wooden cross that is like a fallen crucifix, Otello has come back to Cyprus to suffer, to humiliate and degrade himself, and to die under sinister Iago’s gaze of satisfaction and approval. Whatever admiration one has for Cura’s vocal stamina, good looks and naturalness, it is impossible to resist his commitment and his emotional investment, which gives rise to such a deeply felt performance. - Concert Classic

 

 

José Cura and Krassimira Stoyanova, Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

 

José Cura and Krassimira Stoyanova, Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

José Cura, Barcelona Otello, February 2006

José Cura, Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

 

José Cura and Krassimira Stoyanova, Barcelona Otello, February 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

José Cura as Otello, Barcelona 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

José Cura: “Otello is a very hard role but it has compensations”

 

 

The Argentine tenor performs the Verdi opera in the Liceu

Marta Cervera

BARCELONA

4 February 2006

el Periodico

 

 

José Cura, interview in Barcelona

 

"He is a toad from a different swamp..."

 

 

The tenor will sing the opera inspired by Shakespeare in Barcelona’s Liceu

LOURDES MORGADES  -  Barcelona

 EL PAÍS  -  Espectáculos

 04-02-2006

 

 

 

 

José Cura, interview in Barcelona

 

 

"Iago is nothing more than Otello's darker side."

 

 

José Cura, interview in Barcelona

"It is important to remember that Otello is a traitor in all ways:  he betrays his faith, his race, his beliefs; he becomes a Christian for convenience, he transforms himself into a mercenary and he is contracted to attack his brothers, the Muslims.  ...

A traitor sees only treason on every side; an assassin sees only assassins and a mercenary sees only mercenaries. There is basically a reflection that makes one feel that everyone is just like he is.  Otello is blinded by the possibility of treason ."  Las Artes y Las Letres

   

 

 

 


 

March 2006

 

José Cura as Alfredo Germont in Zurich production of La Traviata, March 2006

 

 

 

Dirigent: Stefano Ranzani

Lichtgestaltung:  Jakob Schlosstein

Inszenierung:  Jürgen Flimm

Choreinstudierung:  Jürg Hämmerli

Bühnenbild:  Erich Wonder

Choreographie: Katharina Lühr

Kostüme:  Florence von Gerkan

 

  

Cast:

Elana Mosuc (17 March) / Eva Mei (22 March)  (Violetta Valéry), Katharina Peetz (Flora Bervoix), Kismara Pessatti (Annina); José Cura (Alfredo Germont), Girogio Zancanaro (Giorgio Germont), Miroslav Christoff (Gastone), Gabriel Bermudez (Barone Douphal), Pavel Daniluk (Marquese d Obigny), Giuseppe Scorsin (Dottor Grenvil), Noel Vazques (Giuseppe), Heikki Yrttiaho (Domestico), Uwe Kosser (Comissionario)

 

 

Traviata

 

Zurich Opera

 

17 & 22 March

 

 
José Cura, interview in Barcelona

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stiffelio

24 & 26 March

 

Dirigent:  Stefano Ranzani

Kostüme:  Marina Luxardo

Inszenierung:  Cesare Lievi

Lichtgestaltung:  Jürgen Hoffmann

Bühnenbild:  Csaba Antal

Choreinstudierung:  Ernst Raffelsberger

 

 

Cast:

Adriana Damato (Lina), NN. (Jorg), Margaret Chalker (Dorotea); José Cura (Stiffelio), Renato Bruson (Stankar), Reinaldo Macias (Raffaele), Martin Zysset (Federico)

 

 

José Cura portrays this main character with a high degree of authenticity.  And if he hadn’t sung so splendidly and used such an unbelievably easy and surely guided voice, if he hadn’t sung the high notes tied in so organically to the singing line, you could hate this uncontrollable, intemperate man. [Part of] Cura’s exceptional charm lies in his quite specific timbre.  Opernglas

 

José Cura as Stiffelio in the Zurich production, March 2006

 José Cura as Stiffelio in the Zurich production, March 2006

 

 José Cura as Stiffelio in the Zurich production, March 2006

 

 

José Cura paints an immensely vivid and malleable picture of the protagonist, the pastor of a sect: (and he does so) with superb body control down to the fingertips and with differentiation in his musical character. Der Landbote

 

José Cura as Stiffelio in the Zurich production, March 2006

Sound Snippet

Act III - Ending

In this Zurich production [of Stiffelio], nobody –with one exception—found any really workable solutions to the challenges.  The exception?  His name is José Cura. The Argentine tenor was the only one who really breathed life into his character; the only one who was capable of creating intensity and credibility, of portraying a real human being with real conflicts. - Zürichsee Zeitung José Cura as Stiffelio in the Zurich production, March 2006
 

 

José Cura as Stiffelio in the Zurich production, March 2006
   
Stiffelio Zurich CC 2006-03-26 José Cura as Stiffelio in the Zurich production, March 2006

 

José Cura in Zurich after Stiffelio

 

 

 

 

José Cura publicity photo for Le Villi, Vienna

 
 

 

 

April 2006

Zurich Production of Turandot 2006

Turandot in Zurich

 

It was easy for José Cura as Calaf to dominate the stage. Although his darkly shaded tenor occasionally lives in a wild a marriage with the song phrases, he is convincing as an actor and [in] his thrilling, daredevil approach.  He has class.  - Zurichsee Zeitung

 

José Cura as Calaf and Elena Mosuc as Liu in Zurich production of Turnadot

   

Alan Gilbert
Giancarlo del Monaco
Peter Sykora
Hans-Rudolf Kunz
Jürg Hämmerli

Paoletta Marrocu*
Elena Mosuc*
José Cura
Pavel Daniluk*
Gabriel Bermúdez*
Andreas Winkler*
Boguslaw Bidzinski*
Miroslav Christoff*
Valeriy Murga*

*Rollendebüt  

Musikalische Leitung
Inszenierung   
Ausstattung
Lichtgestaltung
Choreinstudierung

Turandot   
Liù   
Calaf   
Timur
Ping
Pang
Pong
Altoum
Mandarin

 

 

The first performance [in Zurich] of this gigantic opera was a triumph for more than one reason.  The first was the music, which the young North American Alan Gilbert conducted in all its flamboyance and all its refinement, from those passages which affect us most emotionally to those that radiate pomposity and spectacle, all with proper tempi and shading. The second reason was named José Cura. His imposing presence made us think the opera should have been called Calaf, but much of his macho self-approval can be easily pardoned thanks to the charisma that characterizes this artist and the almost insulting brightness of his vocal projection.  Ópera Actual

 

 

 

Zurich Production of Turandot 2006

Listen:

Principessa di morte  (19 April)

Calaf's offer (19 April)

Last Act snippet (19 April)

 

 

Zurich Production of Turandot 2006 Zurich Production of Turandot 2006 Zurich Production of Turandot 2006 Zurich Production of Turandot 2006
       
Zurich Production of Turandot 2006 Zurich Production of Turandot 2006
       

 

José Cura as Calaf, Elena Mosuc as Liu, and Pavel Daniluk as Timur in the Zurich production of Turandot, April 2006

 

I had expected a generous and committed physical performance; I hadn’t anticipated an impeccable vocal one too. Cura can be an annoyingly wayward singer at times, but obviously found this production congenial and was on best behaviour.  A well-nigh perfect ‘Nessun dorma’ capped an exciting interpretation that played well to Cura’s ebullient Action Man strengths.  Opera Now

 

 

 

Zurich Production of Turandot 2006

 

Compare: 

Non piangere, Liú:

Wednesday, 19 April

Friday, 21 April

 

Zurich Production of Turandot 2006

A frequent visitor to the Zurich stage, José Cura made a strong impression as Calaf.  In fine form, the Argentinian tenor sang with dark and vigorous tones and [easily] launched the high notes, even singing Nessun dorma lying on his back!  In contrast to other recent appearances here, he showed scrupulous attention to style and score. And he had no problem playing the macho lover required by the staging.  ConcertoNet

 

   

Zurich Production of Turandot 2006

 
Outstanding ....was the Calaf of José Cura.  This formative “Mätzchen” yielded a musically flawless interpretation.  Certainly, one could say that the voice slips now and then into the throat and that somewhat more attention should be given to the vowel placement (particularly in “Nessun dorma”), but at this time no other tenor can so easily master this role. The bronze, baritonal voice coloring, paired with an incredible expressiveness and vocal strength and, when necessary, with softness, inspired storms of enthusiasm.  The nonchalance in his acting and the ease with which he took the high notes made him the winner of the evening.  Vox spectatricis

 

 

Zurich Production of Turandot 2006

      

 José Cura as Calaf in the Zurich production of Turandot -- backstage

 


MAY 2006

 

Le Villi

 

Madame Butterfly

 

 

Le Villi

 

Vienna State Opera

José Cura as Roberto and

Krassimira Stoyanova as Anna

 

 

         Le Villi in Vienna

 

 

 

 

Le Villi in Vienna

 

 

 

"José Cura is the unfaithful Roberto. He throws himself completely into his role – his strong presence makes itself felt even if he does not always sing "in accordance to the school." In his big second act aria “Ecco la casa,” he is simply great." - Der Neue Merker

Le Villi in Vienna

 

Le Villi in Vienna

 

Also performed in September 2006

   

 

 

"Puccini could not have been better served vocally:  radiant Krassimira Stoyanova’s breathtakingly perfect rendition of Anna’s “Se come voi piccina” cemented her status as a potential successor to Mirella Freni;  her Roberto, José Cura, pinged Corelli-like high notes off the ceiling."  Opera News

     

Le Villi in Vienna

Le Villi in Vienna

     
     

"Add José Cura as a gloriously self-indulgent, golden-throated Roberto, Krassimira Stoyanova as a radiant, refined Anna, and the robustly direct Franz Grundheber as the father, and you are in for a great night."  - Financial Times

     
     

 

"The singers were of good quality, especially Krassimira Stoyanova as a dreamy, frustrated young woman who was always convincing in spite of the obstacles created by the director.  Vocally, she is an excellent lyric soprano and made a very suitable match with the impetuous and manly Roberto of José Cura, who demonstrated virility and sweetness....

Cura has had excellent moments lately and his voice has become seamless between registers, the high notes sure; he has also become a convincing actor."...La Opera

Le Villi in Vienna

     
   

 

MADAMA BUTTERFLY


Dirigent: José Cura

Cio-cio-san: Cristina Gallardo-Domas
Suzuki: Nadia Krasteva
Kate Pinkerton: Stella Grigorian
B. F. Pinkerton: Carlo Ventre
Sharpless: Boaz Daniel
Goro: Herwig Pecoraro
Yamadori: Peter Jelosits
Onkel Bonze: In-Sung Sim
Kommissär: Hans Peter Kammerer
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly, Vienna, May 2006:  'Something else of great importance: José Cura and the orchestra. The (singer) conductor offered up a first-rate reading of the composition and proved that the expression of sensitive, tender emotions does not need either sentimentality (schmaltz) or sugary sweetness. The members of the (philharmonic) orchestra were totally committed, accepted him without reservation and also followed him willingly. Cura drew clear distinctions in the orchestral rendition, in that strong dramatic outbursts were followed by the most delicate and soft lyricism in the blink of an eye. To the singers he was an optimal guide and accompanist. After his singing career, the doors of a conducting career are going to be wide open for him; that much was proven.'  Der Neue Merkur

Listen to Madam Butterfly excerpts, conducted by Maestro José Cura

 

Overture

Butterfly Act I

Butterfly Act II (Humming Chorus)

Butterfly Act II (a)

Butterfly Act II (b)

Un bel di vedremo

Addio fiorito asil

 

 

TROPPO ZUCCHERO?


José Cura conducts for the first time in Wiener Staatsoper

José Cura, born in 1962 in Argentina, has long been one of the most popular tenors in the world. He began his career as a conductor, composer and pianist and learned to sing only within the scope of his conducting studies. He made his debut as an opera singer in 1992 and since then Cura has been a guest in major opera-houses around the world.  In 1996 he debuted as Mario Cavaradossi (Tosca) in the Vienna State opera.  We were able to see him here as Otello, Don José (Carmen), Canio (Pagliacci), and Andrea Chénier. In May, José Cura debuts as a conductor with Madame Butterfly in the State Opera; we will also enjoy him again as Roberto in Puccini’s first opera Le Villi.

José Cura spoke with Julia Engenderer (translated by Dana):

You will conduct for the first time in the Vienna State Opera. How do you prepare for a work which you conduct?

In the same way that I prepare as a singer--by careful study. The difference lies in the responsibility. As a singer you are responsible only for yourself, as a conductor for the whole ensemble.

Do you listen to different recordings of the opera or does this bother you?

Usually I avoid it. However, I listen to my own recordings to learn from my mistakes. With Puccini everything exists in the score so that if you follow the score, then you are safe.

You began, actually, as a conductor and pianist. Why did you come relatively late to singing?

This happened during my conducting studies. One of my teachers advised me to learn to sing to become a better conductor. I wanted to understand the phrasing and the breathing of singers. Without planning it in the beginning one thing led to another and one day I was a full-time singer.

Why have you decided, in the end to be a full-time singer and conductor less?

This was, actually, a social decision. I was studying in Argentina during the final phase of the military regime and at that time there was no future for me. I came to Europe and here it was simply easier to find work as a singer, especially as a tenor. I had small engagements as a conductor but I got more and more offers as a singer and this is the reason why I am now what I am — a singer.

Do you regret that you now have such little time to conduct?

Actually, there is nothing to regret if one is lucky and successful.  Perhaps I would like to have more time to work as a conductor. On the other hand, the career of a singer is much shorter in comparison. As a conductor one has the right experience and maturity only when older, at the age of 60 or so, so I think I still have enough time to transform slowly from singer to conductor as I grow older.

In the State Opera you appear one evening as a singer, next as a conductor. How do you manage this role change?

This is very difficult for me, but it is possible because Le Villi is such a short opera. With Otello, for example, this would be impossible.

 How does your work as a singer influence your work as a conductor and vice versa?

I love long phrasings and big curves in the orchestra, I love it when the orchestra breathes with the singers. Therefore, I would say that the singer influences the conductor more than the conductor the singer. Vice versa if I stand on the stage I try to follow the music with great discipline, and maybe that is the influence of the conductor on the singer. The advantage is that you always know what goes on when you know both sides.

 

That means you try to accompany the singers?

As a conductor I treat the singers in such a way as I would like to be treated as a singer. That is to give enough space to the singer for good breathing, to give him the feeling of being in good hands. However, I also try to make it clear to the singers that they are part of an ensemble and do not stand alone on the stage with the orchestra and the conductor running after them and trying to understand what the singer plans to do the next minute.

What would you reply to somebody who states that opera is an antiquated art form which  the world doesn’t need  any  more —  like the above mentioned  work  Puccini’s Madame Butterfly?

It is not true that things from the past have no right to exist. If we extinguish the past, we have no base upon which to stand and so fall down. This is like a building from which one removes the cellar — without the cellar the entire structure collapses. If one tries to look at opera, however, as if it were a science fiction film, then one begins to force things and then nothing fits. One must view and enjoy each piece of art it was meant to be and not to try to do it differently. This would be wrong.

José Cura by GordonLe Villi was Puccini’s first opera. How has his music of Le Villi developed to Madame Butterfly?

Tremendously. Le Villi still has a very easy orchestration, the harmonies are almost naive. Puccini developed [musically] in very short time, whereas other composers needed 30 years. Verdi needed even longer. He was like a good wine which matures slowly. If Puccini lived to the age of Verdi he would have met Stockhausen and Penderecki and who knows what he would have written then for music. That Puccini is somebody whom we will never know.

Madame Butterfly was not successful at first. Was it performed for the first time at the wrong time, or was it improved with the different versions?

 La traviata was also booed at first and now is Verdi's best known opera. We know only what we read and what people of that time have said. Toscanini wrote in a letter to Puccini: ' Dear Giacomo, there is too much sugar in this opera.' 'Troppo zucchero,’ he wrote.

Is it true? Is there "troppo zucchero" really in it?

No, I don’t think so. I am an emotional person and, therefore, I like sugar. Actually, this is a very cruel story and, unfortunately, a prophecy. Pinkerton was in Nagasaki as what we now call a sex tourist.

How was the work with Karoline Gruber in Le Villi?

She is an intelligent and sensitive director. I am not persuaded that her direction has a lot to do with the work.  I have already told her this. However, it was a very intelligent solution.

What do you expect from a director with whom you work?

I expect the same as from a conductor, namely that I work with somebody who knows the opera better than I do. He might teach me something. If one must work with somebody who is not prepared, one has the feeling of pulling something too heavy.

You have already sung many big roles. Is there a role outside your repertoire which interests you?

There is not so much for me except for the German repertoire which I don’t plan, however, at the moment, because I have a fear of German language. What I would do with pleasure is Nerone of Boito. I have also had offers for Peter Grimes, but I don’t believe I am ready for it yet.

You were thinking about managing an opera-house. What has become of it?

At the moment I simply do not have time for it. Maybe I will in ten years. Then I would take over the musical management of a house with pleasure. The artistic management would probably have too much bureaucracy for me.

 

 

Onda Latina

 

14 May 2006

 

 

 

 

Latin Evening flyer in Vienna May 2006 by Zsuzsanna

 

Exclusive interview

with JOSÉ CURA

ONE EVENING WITH JOSÉ CURA...

Réjane Suttheimer

May 2006

Translated by Dana

 

 

Onda Latina

 

 

 

 

 

In the middle of May 2006 the heads of state and government of the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean met in Vienna to discuss the political and economic relations of trade. At the same time non-government organizations also met to demonstrate alternatives to the official policy. In the middle of the conflict of these political summits the festival Onda Latina was organized, during which one of the most famous artists of Latin America, José Cura, was honored for his brilliant career and his untiring support of young artists and talents.

Onda Latina joined with Elite Tours for this special meeting to enjoy, together with the Maestro, the concert of the Duo Klaus Paier (Bandoneón and accordion) & Gerhard Preinfalk (clarinet), two outstanding composers and musicians. Maestro Cura even offered a small musical contribution: the “Sonetos de Amor y Muerte,” written by Nobel prizewinner Pablo Neruda and composed by José Cura.

He was accompanied by the Italian pianist Speranza Scappucci.

A brief Tango Exhibition with Elizabeth and Christian from Buenos Aires ended the successful evening and then friends and fans of José Cura had had the chance to get the autograph from the star.

Question from Réjane Suttheimer: Dear Maestro Cura, first of all I would like to thank you for this interview.  It is a big honour for me and our readers will be very pleased to read it.

Here is my first question: You sing tomorrow, on 15 May, “Le Villi” in the State opera and conduct the day after tomorrow “Madame Butterfly.” What is the difference for you between singing and conducting? Is there any emotional difference?

José Cura: On the emotional level both are equal for me. If someone is emotional and sacrifices everything--no matter whether as a conductor or as a singer--one gives everything.

The difference lies in the responsibility. The singer is primarily responsible for himself in his role and afterwards for his colleagues. The responsibility of a conductor is just the opposite.  He is responsible for all! It is simply turned around, a conductor is like a mediator, or if you prefer like a fuse (seen from electric point of view). The opera conductor is the junction between stage and pit. Because from the stage one does not see into the orchestra and the orchestra does not see onto the stage, the only one who sees both sides is the conductor. He is the connection, the mediator, between these two levels. And, because of the enormous concentration and even more because of the enormous responsibility, this is very stressful and exhausting.

 

R-S: You conduct for the first time at the Viennese State opera. How is it for you?

JC: I have conducted “Butterfly” quite often in the past, of course, but this is the first time I have conducted it in Vienna. Emotionally it is very delicate situation, because the conductor’s podium in the State opera pit is a very hot podium! All the great conductors, from Mahler to the present ones, have stood at this desk. Every time you stand there, you could say, well, at home we would say that you have ants in the back! (laughs) It is a big responsibility! Because of budget restrictions in the arts it is becoming more difficult to get the proper number of rehearsals. One actually always works on the edge, because there are too few rehearsals. I had only one and a half rehearsals. That is, one three hour rehearsal for a two and a half hour opera, where one 25 minute break is intended! It is therefore not actually a rehearsal but a quick run through without the possibility to correct anything.  And all this naturally increases the stress enormously.

Onda LatinaR-S:  When you are studying a new role, do you get advice from anybody? Many singers work on new roles, even after years, with their vocal coaches.

JC:  On one hand, I should say yes so people won’t consider me arrogant. But on the other hand I don’t want to lie.  I haven’t had a teacher for more than 15 years. That was my decision. I wanted to develop my own style, my own sound and I didn’t want to be dependent on anyone.

That is why I don’t have my own Maestro but I get advice from everybody I work with.  When you work with great colleagues you say "What do you think, how was it?" or "This doesn’t sound good."  Even when great conductor says, "You know, I didn’t like this or that.”

From your own experience but mainly when you work with good colleagues, in good houses and with good conductors, it is this that makes you more secure than being dependent on   Maestro. But this is matter of opinion.

R-S:  Apropos of critics, who is your harshest critic?  Your wife? Yourself?

JC:  (Laughs) Probably myself!  There is not a single performance at the end of which I can’t say nothing went wrong or I didn’t like something.  And all those who are around me will say:  "No, it was good, stay calm, everything will work out fine."

But those who are most ruthless with me, because they can afford it, are my relatives, my wife, my assistants, my secretary.  They say the things as they are. And this is only right. Because if you are a recognized person, famous, loved or hated, than you run the danger of living in the clouds.

Onda LatinaR-S: Your occupation affects your private and family life. As you have already mentioned before, you are away a lot. How do you and your wife deal with it?

JC: It is difficult, however not impossible.  Six or seven years ago it was more difficult, as  my fee per performance was not as high as it is now and so, even if I had two free days between performances, I couldn’t afforded the  luxury  of getting on a plane and flying home.  It is much simpler now. As soon as I have 2 days free between performances, I jump on the airplane and fly home.  Especially when you are in Europe and can get home in two or three hours. No, actually, I am not away from my home more than a week.

R-S: How do your plans look like? Would you prefer to conduct and compose more than to sing? What do you intend?

JC: Actually of all something! I have further plans within all ranges.  At the end of this or the beginning of next year my first book with photographs may come out. A Swiss publishing house wanted the copyright to publish it. I have taken photographs for nearly 25 years. It began as a hobby and with the time developed further--not as a profession but photography is like a safety valve that allows me to switch off my profession. Since I don’t need to dedicate myself to the photography commercially ,  I don’t  earn my living  by it, I don’t take portraits. I can concentrate and dedicate on social photographs. My pictures are mainly of people and people’s behavior around world, from Japan to the United States. The publisher said something interesting to me: “These photos interest me, because by them one understands what goes on in the head of the photographer. And that you are who you are, it gives your fans the possibility to see the world with your eyes.”  I liked a lot what he had said and here we are ready to do the book.

 

 

Onda LatinaR-S: I find personally that your voice has a very soft, warm and actually dark timbre, like a baritone. At least it seemed to me in “Il Trovatore” in 2002. I know many singers who began their career as tenors and later changed to baritone. Do you still feel comfortable with the high notes?

JC: Funnily enough- and do not ask me why, because I do not know, but in the course of years my voice became much darker.  You mentioned “Il Trovatore” at Covent Garden from 2002. If you hear my voice singing the sonnets this evening, you will say that it has become even deeper in the meantime. I really sound like a baritone, like a deep baritone. But strange enough, the deeper my voice becomes, the easier it feels to me to hit the higher notes! I do not know what is happening, I can’t complain! Apparently the vocal cords adapt and between 40 and 50 a man reaches his optimal peak vocally, which goes well with my age. It is quite possible that I will lose the notes later and end my career as a baritone, but right now I have the high notes that I never had before!

R-S: And which are your projects as singer in the future? Some of your fans follow you around the world to see and hear you!

JC: Oh, I have many plans. I will open the season in Verona this summer.  In September I will return to Vienna with “Le Villi” again.  In October I will be at the Metropolitan Opera NYC with “Tosca,” then I will have a whole series of performances of “Don Carlo” in Zurich. Then I am again in Vienna. In January 2007 I have “Pagliacci” in Berlin; in February 2007 I have a tour in Germany with an evening of songs and in April and May of the coming year I go to London with “Stiffelio”  in a production which I was actually finished with, but they asked me if I would like to do it one last time. In September 2007 I will be also in Barcelona again, with “Andréa Chenier.” Yes, and so I could go on until the year 2011! (Laughs)

R-S: Finally the last question:  opera is nearly always about love and passion. How you would define love?

JC: A difficult question! I do not believe that one can define love.  Anyone can define love one day will also be able to solve all the problems of mankind! (Laughs) I believe love cannot be defined; one can only celebrate it either with music or with words.

R-S: Maestro Cura, thank you very much for the discussion!

Onda Latina

 

     

 

 


Summer 2006

 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 

 

 

 

 

The Argentine tenor opened the season with Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliaci

 “I have engagements until 2011 but next summer I will take a break to be with my family”

Cura, star of the Arena:  “I faced two challenges”

Engaged only for the role of Canio, Cura has been forced to interpret two works in the same evening. “It is enormously hard work, repaid by the applause.”

Avvenire

Pierachille Dolfini

July 2006

“The great heat: I spent all evening getting water and integrators to recover the lost liquids.”

That is the first thing tenor José Cura recalls about his debut at Arena di Verona after taking the lead roles in both Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci. And there was more: “A few minutes before the start – I was told - the thermometer on the stage of the Arena registered 40 degrees.”  In the mind of the Argentine tenor, one of the most popular singers in the world, it is not the thundering applause or the emotions of an opening night that lingers but memories of “the great heat.”

In addition to the high temperatures, Maestro Cura faced yet another challenge:  prepared for Pagliacci, Cura also ended up singing Cavalleria rusticana after Vincenza la Scola was forced to cancel.  Someone should speak [to the Arena] about planning…

“When I discovered I had to do both Turiddu and Canio in the same evening, I had to figure out how to manage my energy.  Certainly it was a surprise when I arrived at the Arena:  I had just returned from Japan, where I had been on tour in Andrea Chénier with the Teatro Communal di Bologna, and I had to go onstage for the pre-general rehearsal, still suffering from jet lag. And it had been seven years since I had last been in Cavalleria, since I had last sung Turiddu.”

How has it gone?

“It has been beautiful to rediscover in the vocal chords a character like that of Mascagni’s and to confront this opera in a new light, one that has been given a “symphonic” reading from the orchestra’s conductor, Lü Jia.”

On purpose, before the Intermezzo of Cavalleria, the Chinese maestro put down the baton and asked the public for silence.

“The public continued to make noise as too many latecomers continued to enter the Arena.  Even worse was the attitude of those who, before the end of the work, hurdle toward the exits.”

I heard that at the end of Pagliacci, when Canio races across the stage, he had to slalom between spectators. 

“Blinded by the lights, I collided with someone.  It was a disagreeable episode that kept me from enjoying the evening until the end of the applause.”

Which of the other works from the playbill at the Arena would you like to sing here?

I would sing Tosca under the direction of De Ana. I am confident that, being a new production, it will be resumed in the upcoming seasons.  I can see myself in the rotation.”

In you calendar of performances, it says that summer 2007 will be “a sabbatical with the family.”

“It will be a little time to away from the world to spend time with my family, my wife and children.”

Where are you going and what are you doing?

I go to the Metropolitan with Tosca and I return to London in Stiffelio, which I sang there in 1995 giving me the start of my international career.”

In Italy, however, we don't see you often.

“I would like to sing here more often, I don’t deny it.  I have received some invitations, but much too late:  I have signed contracts until 2011 and it is hard to find spots for theaters who program from one year to the next.  I will be to Turin in October to inaugurate the season with Turandot and in 2008, I will be in Edgard. I will return to Bologna with Samson et Dalila, my warhorse that I have not sung in Italy since 1997.”

And La Scala?

“We are not currently in negotiations for anything.  Not to be on the marquee at La Scala, when I sing at all the greatest theaters in the world, does not seem a failure to me but something to regret.  I think that sooner or later they will invite me.”

 

 

 

 

"The matador..."

 

 

"The Savior of the Country"

 

"José Cura dominates..."

"The Argentine gladiator..."     

  "The hero of the evening..."

 

"Bravo Cura!"

 

 

"Among the best in the world..."

 

 

 

Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci in Verona

 

 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 

 

   

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

The savior of the country is José Cura, who replaced  Vicenzo La Scola as a result of his unexpected withdrawal in the second part of the diptych to sing both roles. There were just two predecessors in 84 years who did this: Placido Domingo in 1977 and Lando Bartolini in 1993 but nobody has carried on his shoulders the performances of this verismo pair the way Cura, the Argentine gladiator, did.

 Corriere della Sera

 

 

 
...In this company the matador is naturally José Cura, whether as Turiddu or Pagliaccio. His line of singing is reliable, musical, occasionally suffering a bit in the high notes, but always used with brilliance, according to an interpretation of suffered emotional participation and immediate dramatic evidence.  L'Arena

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 

 

 
After returning from Japan, where he starred in the title role of  Andrea Chénier, the Argentine tenor José Cura opened the opera season in the Arena di Verona last Saturday in a truly historic fashion, portraying both Canio and Turiddu in the respective operas of Pagliacci (Leoncavallo) and Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni), two masterpieces in the repertoire in which Cura stands among the best in the world and in which he has built the reputation as an outstanding interpreter. He is the first in more than thirty years to sing both roles in the Arena. The precedent goes back to 1975, when Placido Domingo performed the feat at the famous Verona theater.  Only two other names belong in the same musical company, no less than Mario del Monaco and Beniamino Gigli.  La Nacion

  

 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 

 

 

José Cura was convincing, vocally well disposed, and in his best game mode.

Der Standard

 

       

José Cura stars as Canio in Pagliacci in Verona

 

 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 
The performance was dominated by José Cura, who was initially scheduled only for Pagliacci, but then stepped in for Vincenzo La Scola, who was ill, in Cavalleria as well. Cura has what one can call an 'arena-voice': sizable, clearly distinguishable; he has sung many times on this extra-large stage and knows how to do it most convincingly.... Opera Critic
 
 
 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 

 

 

 

 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 

Without question, the hero of the evening was José Cura, starring in the double role of Turiddu and Canio.  A treatise could be written on the Argentine tenor’s unorthodox vocal technique and lack of homogeneity of his timbre, but on this evening, his voice shone with power and was notable for long-held high notes.  And if we add two intense and first rate interpretations, especially in Canio, his stage presence and wise portrayal, all that is left for us to say is ‘Bravo Cura!” 

OperaClick  

 

 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

 

 

Verona Pag and Cav 2006

José Cura stars as Canio in Pagliacci in Verona

 
 

 

José Cura stars as Canio in Pagliacci in Verona

The announcement made for the opening evening of the great open air spectacle was very traditional but with the added brilliance to the international cast: the poster showed José Cura, originally scheduled only in the part of Canio in Pagliacci, would also be Turridu--a fact that brought the reluctant tenor star much sympathy and brought the opera fans a double dose of good luck!

But one thing all that experienced José Cura as the passionate, nearly unpredictable Canio ... agreed on: Cura was an impressive adversary.

Vassileva and Cura offered a nervous soul picture, an acrimonious play of feelings, blurred emotional exchange between love, jealousy, revenge and murder. And Vasseleva and Cura transported the bored longings and burning passions into the audience and fully engaged the giant arena (in the play).

Their beautiful voices conquered the space... Cura, in psychological shock from his own actions, rushes out of the arena at the end and into the public with almost frightening results. And then everyone feels how exciting it is to understand this figure in this opera shocker.

At the conclusion, there was jubilant rejoicing and ovation...

Kronen Zeitung

 

José Cura, tenor: “I am a shark excited by blood“

La Razón

Gema Pajares

Translated by Dana

Madrid. Arena di Verona opened its season last week. To the always attractive poster advertising the summer festival was added an additional enticement at the last moment:  it was announced a few days before the opening that the Argentine tenor José Cura, one of the leads on the poster for “Pagliacci” (in which he sings Canio), would also assume the role of Turiddu from “Cavalleria rusticana,” a role which he had not sung for six years.  Illness had forced Vincenzo La Scola to withdraw from the production “in extremis” which in turn offered the Argentinean the opportunity for the unusual doubleheader. In the more than 80 years of the history of this amphitheatre (with a 14,000 seat capacity), very few voices have dared this challenge. Cura’s name is now united with those of Placido Domingo (who sang both roles in 1975), Mario del Monaco and Beniamino Gigli.

- Will you sing the double roles in all performances?
- I will sing the five in July. In August I will disappear from the world.

- I imagine that you were petrified when asked to do Turiddu.
- It was a last minute decision. I was landing in Verona having come from Tokyo on the 20th.  I arrived with echoes of “Andrea Chenier” in my ears.  June 21 was the pre-general rehearsal and on June 22, the general.  The season started on 24 June and I hadn’t sung “Cavalleria rusticana” in six years. It was a race against time. Temperature: 44 degrees.

- You really had only had two options: sing or run.
- That’s right. But we are speaking of the opening night of the most important open air theatre in the world. The day of opening is always a swarm, and this time was no different. I simply threw myself into the Arena with a knife between my teeth and yelled “banzai,” as the Japanese do.  I could not abandon the theater. Here I sang my first production in 1992 and here I lived for five years. My emotional attachment to this arena is great. I felt that this was one way I could pay my debts. The Arena opened its arms to me once and now I couldn’t say no when they needed me. How could I have left running?

-  Did you consider the possibility that the challenge could become a setback?
- No matter how much love and courage you put into a performance it still could turn out badly. The head that rolls is yours. Luckily the ovations have been enormous. The theater was full: 13,500 people were at the opening and the applause made me shiver.  I knew I had performed with my heart.

- Once again José Cura put the public of Verona in his pocket.
- You never put anybody in your pocket.  You have to remember one thing:  the physical distance [in the arena] is enormous. The spectator is far away, so far that at the very closest 90 meters separate us, and it is very difficult to perceive the heat, to feel the energy, to be conscious if you are pleasing or not when you are on stage. In addition, the temperature was 44 degrees and the humidity was 80 percent when the performance started. The seats are of marble, and stone begins to cool off at midnight. The heat is unbearable.

- Turiddu and Canio are totally different.
- Yes, there are differences, in age (one is 20, the other, 40), in psychology, in experiences, all of which demand accommodations with the voice, but I am a shark and I am excited by blood.

- Where do you feel more comfortable, on stage or in the pit conducting the orchestra?
- I am focusing more on my role as tenor. So many years I have fought for it, fifteen already, that I want to enjoy this period of artistic and personal maturity. When you are no longer in vocal fullness, then that is the right moment to grasp the baton. Let me put it this way, the moment the singer stops being effective is the same moment the conductor returns to the orchestra.

- You return to the Liceu Barcelona in 2007, nevertheless for Teatro Real you don’t have a date in your calendar.
- I open the season in Barcelona with “Andrea Chenier” in 2007, and in 2011 I will perform two roles. There is no chance in Madrid, where I can only sing in my house, sleep in my bed, and not perform for my many friends. I passed the new artistic director (Antonio Moral), but we hardly greeted each other and didn’t talk about anything. So it seems that Madrid has to wait. Hated and loved.

- You are a tenor who is as much loved as criticized.  Do you regret anything?

-No, I don’t regret anything [professionally], even the fact that newspapers criticize me with extreme prejudice. When I sang “Otello” they wrote this was the end of Cura and that I should retire. I hope I still have some professional years ahead of me! My only regret is that I am so often far away from my family.

- 2008 it is going to be an important year.
- I will make my debut in “Le Cid”, by Massenet in Zurich and I am researching “Peter Grimes,” which I have enormous desire to do. It is an opera in which I would like to make my debut in within four years.

After taking a vacation in August, I will sing “Le Villi” in Vienna and “Fanciulla del West” in Berlin in September, “Turandot” in October in Turin, “Tosca” in New York and then I will close the year with “Don Carlo” in Vienna. In 2007 I will visit Barcelona, London, Lisbon, Berlin, Cologne.

- The operatic situation in Italy remains worrisome. Is the budget cut of the previous government still affecting it?
- I would say it is as much a scandal as it is serious problem. The cuts have been tremendous; in some cases they have reached 45 percent. I believe that this will bring consequences in the long term. Right now the damage is not readily apparent because we are still eating off the reserves that are in the moneybox, but what will happen when the box empties? We will see if this new government is able to fulfill its promise and can give back funds.

 

José Cura stars as Canio in Pagliacci in Verona

 

José Cura, as Canio, during a performance of “Pagliacci“ by  Leoncavallo at Arena di Verona

 

 
 

Concert - Rijeka, Croatia

 

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

Selected sound snippets from Croatia

July 2006

(click on the hyperlink;  you must have a media player, such as Windows Media Player, to listen)

 

Andrea Chénier

Improvvisso (1)

Improvviso (2)

 

Carmen

Flower Song (long)

 

Cavalleria Rusticana

Siciliana

Duet

 

Samson et Dalila

Duet

 

Tosca

Recondita armonia

E lucevan le stelle (long)

 

Turandot

Nessun dorma

 

 

 

   

 

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

Pagliacci

 

 

 

 

 

Croatia Concert Jul 06 from Hanka

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

Croatian Concert July 2006

Croatian Concert July 2006

   

Magic Charm of Famous Tenor

To all who ventured yesterday evening to windy Trsat it is now certainly clear how José Cura wins the hearts of audiences around the world. His charisma? Certainly. His wonderful and strong voice? Even more so. But above all, it is his complete absorption in the music that makes the characters he sings come alive.

I have never had such a deep opera experience as I did during this concert performance.  It is impossible to find on our opera stages such dramatic feeling, in both singing and acting, as the famous Argentinean was able to achieve on the 1.5 square meter of the Trsat stage, without the use of any stage props.

Having charmingly communicated with the audience in Italian, Cura offered as his first encore a love song from his homeland, accompanied by only a harp, and finished the performance showcasing his magnificent heroic voice with the famous tenor aria “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot that brought the audience from their chairs to their feet.

Jutarnji List

Croatian Concert July 2006

Tosca - E Lucevan le stella

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

   

Croatian Concert July 2006

Samson et Dalila

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

An unforgettable concert by the star Argentinean tenor

Rijeka Summer Nights

Under windy and chilly skies [Cura] sang seven famous tenor arias (including both Cavaradossi arias), several duets and an intimate Argentinean love song about the ideal woman.  He finished the extremely demanding concert for any tenor with Calaf’s aria “Nessun dorma,” triumphantly interpreted in such a way that one can hear only in an exceptional live performance.

Cura also showed that he is as dangerous as a panther for his partner, because he sings impulsively, almost unpredictably, and acts gloriously, and it doesn’t matter if it is concert performance, for he fully controls and dominates on stage, as when he used a nearby chair to sit on for Canio’s aria “Vesti la giubba.” 

 Vecernji list

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

   

Cura Lifts Audience from Seats

The famous Argentinian tenor José Cura, who presented his [open air] concert within the frame of Rijeka Summer Nights in Marijin perivoj, Trsat, last night, fascinated more than 1,000 opera lovers from not only Croatia but from other countries with his inspirational interpretations.

After the long-lasting applause of the audience, who had been lifted from the seats by Cura’s brilliant achievement and after repeated exclamations of “Bravo!” Cura gave as an encore a traditional love song from Argentina – his homeland--and the famous aria “Nessun dorma.”

Novi list

Croatian Concert July 2006

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

Samson et Dalila - Mon Coeur

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

Carmen - Flower Song

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

 

Croatian Concert July 2006

Croatian Concert July 2006

Croatian Concert July 2006

 

 

 

Carmen - Seguilla

 

Rijeka Concert, photo by Zsuzsanna
   

 


 

September 2006

     
Berlin

JCx

AGM

 

JCx Annual Membership Dinner

   
José Cura and members of JCx after the dinner in Berlin
 

 

JCx Annual Membership Dinner     JCx Annual Membership Dinner   JCx Annual Membership Dinner 

 

 

JCx Annual Membership Dinner    JCx Annual Membership Dinner    JCx Annual Membership Dinner

 

 

 

JCx Annual Membership Dinner  JCx Annual Membership Dinner  JCx Annual Membership Dinner  

   

 

 
JCx Annual Membership Dinner JCx Annual Membership Dinner JCx Annual Membership Dinner
     

 

 

September 2006

 

     

Berlin

Fanciulla

del

West

 

JC in Berlin Production of Fanciulla Sept 06

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

     

JC in Berlin Production of Fanciulla Sept 06

JC in Berlin Production of Fanciulla Sept 06

JC in Berlin Production of Fanciulla Sept 06

     
     
JC in Berlin Production of Fanciulla Sept 06             JC in Berlin Production of Fanciulla Sept 06
     
JC in Berlin Production of Fanciulla Sept 06

 

Sound Snippets

Minnie, non piangete

Una parola sola!

Risparmiate lo scherno

Ch'ella mi creda

 

 

JC at official signing after Berlin Fancuilla

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     

 


 

 

José Cura in concertBERLIN. Restless, non-conforming, and talented. This is the way José Cura is known in the world of opera, as a versatile singer whose prestige and fame has spread increasingly towards other areas of the musical business. Although his beginnings in the Rosario's conservatory focused on the guitar, conducting and composition, it was opera singing (a discipline to which he came later) that took him to the center of the international scene. Today, with a wide path and as one of the most sought after tenors in the world, José Cura often presents examples of his multiple vocations and of the solid preparation upon which rests one of the most unique opera careers of the moment.

Among them, for example, was the acid test in conducting a production of Madama Butterfly recently at the Vienna State Opera. "Nobody saw me as a tenor who was trying to conduct,” he told LA NACION.  “All the best from Mahler to Karajan have appeared there, so the fact that I was accepted professionally by this orchestra and the public who has seen and listened to all the great ones is very important and very flattering to me."

Then, in addition to his schedule as a singer and a businessman who heads his own company, and only to enumerate the whirlwind of his activities, there is the composition of an opera for children that will be presented in a German theater and the publication of two books by an Italian publisher (in one Cura analyzes his repertoire as an interpreter and in the other he presents a collection of his photographs).  To these you can add two more novelties: one is his debut as director in 2008 in a production of Un ballo in maschera in the Staadtsoper of Cologne, Germany (a project about which we cannot reveal major details before it is announced in the local press), and his long-awaited return to an Argentine stage in 2007, after almost a decade of absence from his country.

Between performances of La fanciulla del West in Deutsche Oper of Berlin, José Cura agreed to give us an interview.

 
 
Versatile artist


- What is your motivation to look for new horizons? Does the routine as a singer bother you?

- In my case, because I am very restless, yes. To sing the same role, the same music, in the same theater, the same production and even with the same colleagues... It is necessary to charge the batteries for that.  To tell the truth, many artists seem satisfied with this tranquil life without surprises in which everything is predictable. If one accepts this as a way of making a living and wants nothing more than this, then it is fine. But if you want something more and arrive at the theater proposing this or that, they say to you: ‘Uf! Cura is here with his wish to change everything!’

- But you can do that because you are famous tenor. Theatres usually don’t allow singers to change the production as you did with La fanciulla....

- Independent of whatever label you carry, every singer has professional authority. I love the challenges and the madness, but I cannot support a true error in concept because for me there is a rule: on stage you can feel strange or awkward but you should never feel like an idiot. In Act II of this Fanciulla the director asked me to appear in a impeccable white, newly ironed suit with a frilly pink shirt ... "I will put it on,” I told her, “if you can explain why and convince me that it is possible for a bandit who is running from the law to appear dressed like that in the middle of nowhere. Then she tells me that Dick Johnson does not carry a gun... This is an illogical approach! To a gunman the gun is a necessity.  It is what makes him dangerous, what he uses to threaten others. What I finally did was hide the gun and, without saying anything the baritone and I reached an agreement.  We worked out the new scene together and it was that determination that
established the relationship between the two characters.

- There was a rumor that you wouldl play Sigmund at Bayreuth.  Are you going to sing Wagner? Have you started studying German?

- No. Actually, I am not going to sing Wagner. Yes, there was a half invitation from Bayreuth to make my debut in The
Valkyries in 5 years. I thought that this would be the final motivation to study the language because I do not support the idea of singing just phonetically, but we did not agree from the contractual point of view, so for the time being there is no Wagner.

- Do you think you might leave singing and devote yourself more to conducting?

- It would be foolish to leave this capital now when I finally got possession of it, because I have reached the point in which I can be relaxed on stage, I already know how to sing and I can sing with almost no suffering.

- How were you suffering?

- Never psychologically, but physically. The color of my voice has always been suitable for the dramatic roles, but my muscles and my voice as body needed many years (to mature) so what was musically and artistically clear from the beginning can now be
heard and seen and reflected in an integrated, clear voice and with equal result in all ranges.  Earlier they were not matching, and that is normal in the big voices. And when the result must come from muscular adaptation to support a theoretical concept that you already learned, what is lacking only is the passage of time.


 Return with glory

José Cura in concert- What do you plan your performance in Argentina?

- Although the contract is not yet signed, I trust [Marcelo] Lombardero because the proposal for my return for a season at the Colón came directly from him. We will do a concert version of Samson and Dalila, with a completely Argentine cast in Colón, between end of June and beginning of July.

- For how long you have you not sung in your own country and do you regret this absence?

- From 1999, practically my whole career. I want to meet the public and my companions and one of the things that most attracts me to return is the possibility of doing something with Argentine singers. Regarding my absence, and this is a conclusion I came to only after traveling around the world, I believe that the problem with Argentina is a lack of national pride. As a result of this syndrome, we Argentinians are forced to leave with great pain in the soul to work in places where we are appreciated. There is an absence of the same sort of nationalistic pride that, for example, Englishmen have when they defend their own people at any cost.

- And how do you see the Argentinian?

- He does exactly the opposite. When one of his triumphs, he goes looking for some shortcoming or defect to bring him down, especially in the eyes of foreigners. Imagine how a person feels who is applauded everywhere in the whole world except in his own country... It is a kind of failure. It is as if everyone says how wonderful this one is except his parents.  His own parents even discredit him in front of others. It is just as in a family: if someone is smart, he does not go about ranting about his wife and his children; on the contrary, they are his principal allies. You must never betray them because it would be a serious mistake. As for the country, it is somehow sad, and as for society it means a sort of defeat.

- Which has been your experience in this sense?

- The experience was not very pleasant the last time I was there. But I stopped worrying some time ago, since 1999 when I came back fighting to give the people what I had to offer. I left the country with a knife in my back ... from my own people. I learned this in proper flesh. But I will come back, smiling and happy, without trying to tilt at windmills again. I would like to be wrong and when people read this note they will say to me: “No, José, you are mistaken! When you come, we will start working together to improve things!" This would be a big dream come true!

 

 

 


 

 

October 2006

 

 

 

JC as Calaf in the Turin production of Turandot, Oct 06

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

Turandot in Turin

 
   

 

Non piangere Liú!

 
 

José Cura in Turandot, Turin, Oct 2006

Highest marks go to José Cura.  His Calaf is impetuous, at times rabid.  He is extraordinary in Nessun dorma, an aria that is often used as a mirror in which tenors admire their skill.   In these notes José Cura never looks in the mirror, never tries to simply show off his voice but instead to use it in the service of his goal of conquest, the source of which is barely controlled anger.  Trapsi

 

 

 

José Cura in Turandot, Turin, Oct 2006

 

 

José Cura in Turandot, Turin, Oct 2006

José Cura in Turandot, Turin, Oct 2006

"José Cura is a Calaf without a huge voice but one used with great style and one that earned an ovation after the famous aria Nessun dorma."   La Stampa

 

 

     
     

 

Riddle Scene

"Interesting company, this one....with a prince Calaf in the person of José Cura who has a voice and presence of rare authority...." Il Giornale
     
     

José Cura in a scene from the Turin production of Turandot

     
     

 


 

Life, love and opera - a tenor's worth


One of the world's most celebrated tenors, José Cura, opens the Belfast Festival at Queen's tomorrow night. Here, our classical music correspondent Rathcol catches up with the mellow maestro at his home in Madrid, and finds him insisting that good music is just like good wine and good sex - you just need to take your time.
 

19 October 2006

Maestro Cura, can I ask you a few questions about your forthcoming concert in Belfast? "Well, ok, yes, but I must tell you that I am drunk."

The interviewer's feeling of opportunity in such a situation is only equaled by that of apprehension. But there was nothing to fear here, of course.

"I've just come from a family celebration," he goes on. "But no, I'm joking of course, I'm fine."

In fact, talking to José Cura, on the phone from Madrid, after his lengthy and relaxed, typically Spanish lunch, proves to be the perfect time to enjoy the loquacious famous tenor.

Cura, one of the world's most celebrated singers, performs in Belfast at the Waterfront Hall tomorrow night, opening the 44th Belfast Festival at Queen's. I ask him about the music he'll be singing (including favourites from Puccini and Verdi) and how he chooses his concert hall programmes.

"Ah you've touched on a delicate point," he says. "The programme is a difficult thing to handle. As a curious artist you want to do strange and new things, but you also compromise with the great hits. This is the first time ever I sing in Belfast. I will give the people what they want to hear, and when I return I'll do something more rare."

It's easy to feel an instant friendship with this man; he hasn't yet set foot in the country, but he's talking about return visits, and throughout the interview he talks about building relationships.

Verdi and Puccini are the two main musical figures in any tenor's life. I seek out differences of approach for these two Italian masters, but Cura's musicality is a simpler, more direct form of expression.

"I approach everything the same way," he says. "From a strict musical and dramaturgical point of view. There is a problem with these concerts. What you have is little excerpts of theatrical pieces, of operas, and these pieces are out of context. You only have 50% of the product.

"What you have to do, in two, three, four minutes, is transmit the psychology of the character. This is the challenge. I like to interact with the audience and joke with the audience. The sensation of these concerts is completely different to the opera house - you don't have a single psychology in the one evening."

We move on to his Argentinian heritage. "Argentina plays a normal part in a well-balanced life," he says. "It's my country. It's like a mother, your mother is always your mother and always has a special place in your heart. After eight years I return to sing in Buenos Aires this year. It will be very special, but I am thoroughly European now."

I mention that Argentinian music, especially in the hands of tango master Ástor Piazzola, is very popular in Ireland at the moment ... "Ah yes, it has a very strong folk connotation," he says. "It's classical music written with our folkloric blend or smell. Like Kodaly or Bartok.

"It's like in Ireland and Scotland, there is a body relation with the rhythm and the drama is very strong."

Talking to Cura you realise that so many of his answers are easy, self-evident. This is what great artists do. They see a clear picture, a viable route, and they use it.

Take this answer: I ask Cura why, demanded as he is across the world as a singer, he chooses to conduct.

"To move a little bit the air," he says, charmingly, in English which is perfectly clear, yet thoroughly Spanish. "To include some change in the concerts. The point is, not a lot of people know I started my career as a conductor - I was 15 years old - and as a composer. I was 30 years old when I became a singer, when I became a famous larynx."

Cura is proud of his all round musicianship.

"I will conduct Giordano's Siberia, I think this is the first time it is performed in Belfast. We have a local premiere."

And the composition? "Composition is a complement to being a good singer," he says, "at the moment I'm revisiting an opera I wrote for children based on a Hans Christian Anderson story." He promises to let me know how it goes.

The subject which energises Cura the most is the role of opera in society and, in particular, the charge that the art form is elitist.

"It's one thing what people think opera is -people think opera is only for the elite. That's b******t," he insists. "Going to a football match is just as much about money. If you need that to excuse yourself, then you need to move to something else.

"Obviously, if you want to see Ireland play France then you will pay more, like going to La Scala, and with a local team you pay less.

"Classical is a dangerous word. It's an artform with very strong connotations of technique and intellect. It's true, you can't digest it like a hamburger.

"It's like looking at a famous painting ... you have to think about this. It's the same as classical music. It's not an obvious music... it's not pre-cooked and frozen.

"You open a good bottle of wine, you can't just drink it at once. You have to wait for three hours. People want everything in two minutes with minimum effort. You need the chance to prepare yourself.

"Opera, wine, sex - the common factor is patience. You need to take your time."

To finish, I tell him about the opera scene in Ireland. The trouble we've had in the past and the fact that, despite excellent work by companies like the Dublin based Opera Theatre Company, there has too often been a lack of vision and commitment from the people holding the purse strings, especially in the north.

His closing remark is typically magnanimous: "If I can be of any help, then please ask."

It seems that Belfast could have a new and influential friend.

 

 

 

"Argentine tenor José Cura thrilled concertgoers at the opening Ulster Orchestra concert in the Waterfront Hall."  

*

Listen to Maestro Cura - Belfast

From the BBC Interview

Belfast Interview, Part I:  About the concert

Belfast Interview, Part II:  The early days

Belfast Interview, Part III:  The voice

Belfast Interview, Part IV:  The tenor in concert

Belfast Interview, Part V: Stiffelio and intro to Rach

 

 

 

October 2006

BELFAST FESTIVAL

   
 

 

José Cura arrives in Belfat for his Nov 06 Concert

 

   
 

Friday 20 October 2006
Waterfront Hall, Belfast 8pm

José Cura tenor/conductor*
Mario de Rose conductor

Mascagni Prelude from Cavalleria Rusticana with “Siciliana” backstage
Ponchielli “Sia Gloria ai canti … cielo a mar” from Gioconda
*Giordano Prelude to the second act of Siberia
Giordano Come un bel dì di maggio from Andrea Chenier
Giordano Amor ti vieta from Fedora
LeonCavallo Intermezzo from Pagliacci
LeonCavallo Aria di Canio

*Saint-Säens Baccanale from Samson & Dalila
Verdi Aria di Don Alvaro from La forza del destino
Verdi Morte di Otello
Verdi Sinfonia from la Forza del destino
Puccini E lucevan le stele from Tosca
Puccini Nessun dorma from Turandot

Encores
Puccini Tra voi belle from Manon Lescaut
Guastavino Soneto IV (Argentinean song. Harp and tenor)
Puccini Addio fiorito asil from Butterfly

 

 

   

 

 

Belfast Festival

Tuesday 24 October, Irish Times

Michael Dervan

The starry opening concert brought a Belfast début with the Ulster Orchestra for Argentinian tenor José Cura, one of those singers whose voice so fits him like a glove it gives him the freedom of movement of any well-fitting garment. He conducts, too, and not without skill…

José Cura at airport in Ireland with welcoming group

 

   

Ever-charming Cura wows the audience

 

 

                Tuesday 24 October, Newsletter

Andrea Rea

Possibly the glitziest place to be was the Grand Opera House for the gala opening of the new extension.

Perhaps the trendiest place to be was the Spiegeltent, a new Belfast Festival venue that promises a slightly bohemian experience for audiences in a tent of mirrors.

But I’ll bet you the crowd that had the most fun was at the Waterfront Hall, for the Ulster Bank-sponsored Festival Opening Concert with José Cura and the Ulster Orchestra.

In an age when everyone seems to be labelled a star, each one bigger than the next, it was nice to see and hear a performer of genuine quality and surprising humility.

The Festival programme calls Cura “the world’s finest tenor”, a claim which simply shouldn’t be made. Not that he isn’t great, because he is, but its just so much a matter of taste. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I was prepared to take a sceptic’s-eye view of this musician because of the hype. As it happens, Cura’s voice is pretty wonderful: strong, accurate and well-supported.

Friday evening’s repertoire, all operatic, was a crash course in some of the lesser-known tenor arias from Italian opera, with some firm favourites as well. The concert began with the Prelude to Cavalleria Rusticana, conducted by Mario de Rose, who kept the orchestra on it’s toes by being less than precise in his style of beating. His conducting is very fluid and beautiful to watch, but not always clear.

 
 

 

Cura sang from off stage during this and then appeared for an aria from La Gioconda. As a performer, he’s entirely at ease on stage, moving about and interacting with the orchestra. Indeed, the orchestra was very much a part of this concert, with both Cura and de Rose going out of their way to acknowledge them collectively and individually.

Clarinettist Chris King received special and well-deserved notice for warm solo passages. Cura also conducts, and took up the baton for the Prelude to Act 2 of Siberia, a little-known Giordano piece. He also conducted the Bacchanale from Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilia. He’s a confident conductor, not graceful but with a kind of animal energy and terrific precision. The opening chord of the Saint-Saëns was as well placed and together as anything in the concert.

We were also given a glimpse of José Cura’s acting ability as he inhabited the role of each piece he sang. Death of Otello by Verdi was especially heartfelt, as was the spectre of the broken-hearted clown Canio leaving the stage after the famous aria from I Pagliacci which ended the first half of the concert.

Cura lifted the stool he had been sitting on and carried it forlornly off, the absolute picture of dejection. Cura himself seems a very jolly fellow, and he chatted to the hall and the audience listening on BBC Radio Ulster, making fun of himself and bantering with the orchestra.

Inevitably, there were encores, one of which, Soneto IV by Gustavino, was an Argentinian song for harp and voice only. The ever-charming Cura planted a kiss on the harpist’s cheek afterwards, and I’m sure the entire hall sighed as one.

The concert finished with an aria from Madame Butterfly, despite calls for Danny Boy from the floor. When Cura returns to Belfast (and I hope he does) I suspect he will give us Danny Boy.

And, in the meantime, I’m going to learn the harp!

 

 

José Cura performs in Belfast, Oct 2006

 

 

 

Charismatic Cura impresses

 

Saturday 21 October, Belfast Telegraph

Rathcol

José Cura is a rare find. As well as being a talented vocal actor that has the physicality to add a sense of realism to popular operatic roles, he is also a skilled conductor.

Last night’s opening concert of the 44th Belfast Festival saw the Argentina tenor perform with the Ulster Orchestra in the Waterfront Hall. A few empty seats did not detract from what proved to be a magical evening.

Conductor Mario de Rose led the Orchestra through the beautifully delicate Prelude from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. Cura began his performance off­stage, later casually strutting around to envelop the audience with his powerful presence as he performed Sia Gloria ai canti … cielo a mar from Ponchielli’s La gioconda.

The charismatic performer next switched roles to conduct Giordano’s Prelude to Act 2 from Siberia. Cura’s relationship with the orchestra blossomed as he interpreted Giordano’s Come un bel di maggio from Andrea Chenier and the short but sweet Amor ti vieta from Fedora. A passionate Intermezzo and Ariadi Canio from Leoncavallo’s I pagliacci followed.

Puccini’s touching E lucevan le stelle from Tosca, and the crowd-pleasing Nessun dorma from Turandot, signalled the end of the programmed concert. However, Cura was far from fin­ished. Three encores later, this international star was met with a standing ovation.

It is no easy task to adequately express a character within just a few minutes of music but José Cura managed it with aplomb. Praise must also be given to the accompaniment. As Cura ex­claimed: “What an orchestra!”

 

 

 

José Cura in concert in Belfast

 

 

   

Memorable Cura!

Monday 23 October, Irish News

Ruth McCartney

The opening concert of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s is always a great source of conversation and a much talked-about affair.  Without a doubt, this weekend’s concert, featuring José Cura and the Ulster Orchestra, in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall, will be discussed for a long time to come.  To enlist an international opera star like José Cura is a real triumph for Queen’s. This is a man with a hectic schedule around the world opera circuit.  The Argentinean-born tenor has won critical acclaim both as a singer and a conductor. On Friday night he entertained the crowd with his sheer excellence in both capacities.

The concert began with the Ulster Orchestra playing Prelude from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana.  Cura kept us in suspense as he sang from off-stage. When he entered, he radiated a warmth, magnetism and great sense of enthusiasm which won the audience over straight away.  In his chosen selection of songs, which included Leoncavallo’s Aria di Canio from Pagliacci and Verdi’s Morte di Otello, from Otello, Cura displayed his complete mastery of vocal technique.  His phrasing was always perfect and his seemingly inexhaustible voice just floated up to one stunningly brilliant top B after another.  His strong voice could be heard clearly throughout the auditorium from any point that he moved to on stage, even when his back was to the audience as he faced the choir stalls.  Cura seems to surrender himself totally to the characterisation of each role and his disciplined singing and passionate expression were supreme.

He had a very relaxed manner for a super-star and one wouldn’t have expected him to take time to search out in the hall the school choir who greeted him at the airport on Thursday or to applaud the Ulster Orchestra so warmly, but these little touches and his infectious sense of enthusiasm added to his enormous charisma.  The Ulster Orchestra responded well to all that was asked of it in the romantic accompaniments and in the stand alone pieces.  Both harpists played very sensitively throughout.

Cura’s broad talents were clearly displayed in his conducting skills in works such as Sinfonia from Verdi’s La forza del destino when conductor Mario de Rose stood down to let the great man take to the podium.  After a few lollipops such as Puccini’s E lucevan le stelle from Tosca and the ever-popular Nessun dorma, Cura returned to the stage to perform several encores and received a standing ovation from a very appreciative audience.  This was a very memorable occasion.  Well done Belfast Festival!

   
   

 

November 2006

Tosca at the Met!

   
 

Tosca at the Met from Kira

 

   

"Cura pulled off the most effective performance of the evening, with consistent tone, dark and rock-solid, and credible acting." Opera News, Jan 07

 

Tosca at the Met from Kira

 

   

Tosca at the Met from Kira

Making his debut in the role of Cavaradossi was Argentinian tenor José Cura. When I heard him two years ago as Samson in the Saint-Saens, I was disturbed by his bellowing, but this evening he was actually quite good — he maintained a smooth lyrical line while intoning at an impressively high volume level. And he was a natural partner for Ms. Guleghina, who is also a champion projector. Their "Non la sospiri la nostra casetta" has to be one of the loudest ever, but neither sacrificed any intonation for this house-filling sound. Mr. Cura's "E lucevan le stelle," his character's last big number and one of Puccini's most poignant compositions, was really very moving. 

This was performance number 881 of "Tosca" at the Met. Maybe this wasn't the most beautiful "Tosca" in memory, but it may have been the most memorable for quite some time.

NY Sun

 

 

   
   

"[Guleghina was] completely matched by Cura's impassioned tenor with his splendidly natural acting ...." New York Post

Tosca at the Met from Kira

Tosca at the Met from Kira

   
   

Playing right along was José Cura’s bad-boy Cavaradossi. Mr. Cura has a strong, able voice but sings as if determined not to give anybody what he or she wants by doing anything obvious. He focused on understatement, singing darkly and with such a deliberately casual air that his phrasing was sometimes swallowed, and sometimes almost viscous in its reluctance to move from one note to another. The musical climaxes seemed torn out of him against his will, adding considerably to the drama.  New York Times

Tosca at the Met from Kira

   
   
José Cura receives ovation at Met Sound Snippets

 

Recondita armonia

Act 1

 Vittoria!

 E lucevan le stelle

O dolci mani

 

 

 

 


 

Artist Talk at the Met

6 November 2006

 

Sample the wit and wisdom of José Cura

 

Snippet 1

Snippet 2

José Cura poses after Artist Talk at the Met 6 Nov 06

   

 

 

José Cura poses after Artist Talk at the Met 6 Nov 06

 

 

 

 

   
 
Backstage at the MET
 
José Cura backstage at the Met, Tosca, Nov 2006 José Cura backstage at the Met, Tosca, Nov 2006
   
 

José Cura backstage at the Met, Tosca, Nov 2006    José Cura backstage at the Met, Tosca, Nov 2006

 

Tosca at the Met backstage from Kira

 

 

José Cura backstage at the Met, Tosca, Nov 2006

 

 

 

 
2006 Tucker Gala
 
José Cura performs at the 2006 Tucker Gala

Tucker Gala

Brian Kellow

Opera News

Feb 2007

 Tucker Gala for 2006 is the best in years

 (excerpt)

This year’s Richard Tucker Gala, held November 12 at Avery Fisher Hall, represented a tremendous return to form after several lackluster concerts in recent seasons.  A number of factors were in play, namely an enlightened attitude on the part of the Met’s Peter Gelb when it comes to releasing top singers for the event.… 

 The high points were thrillingly high:  René Pape was excellent in the coronation scene from Boris Godunov, while José Cura exploded with fiery energy when he took the stage for Il Corsaro’s ‘Tutto parea sorridere…Si! De’ Corsari il fulmine…..’

 

 

 
José Cura performs at the 2006 Tucker Gala
 
 
Listen to sound snippet from Il Corsaro, featuring José Cura (long--seven minutes)

Tutto parea sorridere…Si! De’ Corsari il fulmine…..

 

 


   

November 2006

José Cura's First US Concert!

Miami

   

Cura was the concert's real draw. At a time when the opera world is searching for replacements for the beloved Three Tenors, Cura has the vocal resources and charisma to make his presence felt. In two arias from Puccini's Tosca, Cura's impassioned vocalism and sensuous, dulcet soft tones held the house enthralled. In two boleros (Somos novios and Esta tarde vi llover), Cura sang with the casual ease of Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett.

For encores Cura offered a lovely, surprisingly understated Spanish love song (with exquisite harp accompaniment) and a ringing, stentorian version of Nessun dorma from Turandot. By sheer force of voice and personality, Cura came and conquered, but vocal lovers deserved to hear more of this powerhouse tenor in the operatic oeuvre for which his voice is so well suited.

 

   
José Cura in Miami
   
   

Tenor's powerful presence marks opening at Carnival Center


By David Fleshler
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted November 13 2006

 

Argentine tenor José Cura's dramatic flair showed up early in his performance Thursday at the new Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.

As the Orquestra de São Paulo played the prelude to the famous Vesti la giubba from Pagliacci, an imposing, dark-haired man entered (through a door marked Exit), carrying an ordinary black chair over his shoulder, unsmiling and ignoring the audience. He held up a hand to quiet the trickle of applause, set the chair by the conductor, sat down and put a hand over his eyes as the orchestra finished the introduction.

"Recitar!" he began, and launched into a dramatic and powerful expression of the clown Canio's grief over the betrayal by his wife.

The concert, which began at the weird hour of 9 p.m., marked opening night for the Concert Association of Florida in its new home at the Carnival Center's Knight Concert Hall in downtown Miami. The glittering crowd was wowed by Cura's performance and the superb playing of the Brazilian orchestra.

Cura, who just sang Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera, has a powerful voice, although it lacks the brilliance and spine-tingling high notes of some of the great tenors. His tone and phrasing weren't always polished. But like Maria Callas, who also possessed uneven vocal equipment, he moved the audience through the sheer dramatic force of his voice and manner.

In E lucevan la stelle from Tosca, he let a sob creep into his voice without doing too much violence to the vocal line, to express Cavaradossi's love and grief on the eve of his execution. He possessed complete freedom on the stage. He dared to turn his back on the audience to sing to the second violins and cellos. He picked up a microphone and softened his voice to a croon for a pair of dusky Boleros by Armando Manzanero.

The orchestra, which once tottered on the verge of extinction, now has ample government support, an international roster of musicians, and a clear, rich sound. The brass played with power and not a hint of rawness, with fine work particularly from the French horns. The strings shimmered and sang, playing with impressive unity of attack, under the genial but firm direction of conductor John Neschling.

Their performances of Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 and Ginastera's Suite from the ballet Estancia displayed the freedom and expressiveness that comes from careful preparation and intimate knowledge of the music.

The wildly applauding audience was rewarded with three encores, although about a third of the crowd missed the last one by rushing to their cars.

"Last time I was here, the hall was full," Cura observed. "So for you who stayed..."

He then launched into what's probably the second-most-famous aria in opera (after Vesti la giubba), Puccini's Nessun dorma, literally ending on a high note as the roar of approval from the audience drowned out the orchestra.

 

   

The Argentine tenor José Cura captivated the Miami public with his voice and his affection.  The applause given, without a doubt, was a measurement of the degree to which the public was taken with this singer, and in this case that applause became delirious when he gave as the last encore the famous aria from Turandot, Nessun dorma.  Cura broke with the formality that normally prevails between the singer and the public for when it was his turn he talked, displayed his sense of humor, and created a rapport (with the audience).

It has been a long time since we have listened to a heroic voice such as Cura’s, which unites a temperament that knows how to imprint each passage with the required emotion. He reminded us of Franco Bonisolli:  a powerful voice, with a dark but sparking timber, easy high notes, solid and firm.  As we said, his interpretation of Nessun dorma drove the public crazy, with the great dramatic quality that he imparts and with an impressive long note 

Cura included folks songs which demonstrated the perfect control he has over his voice—that is, Cura sang the songs as a balladeer rather than as an opera singer.

 


 

 

NOVEMBER 2006

 

Don Carlo in Zurich

 

   

Don Carlo in Zurich

'Elbows held tight against his torso, he [Cura] portrayed Carlo as an introspective neurotic, an unloved child doomed from birth, baring his soul with his first words -- "Io l'ho perduta" -- in the burnished glow of his voice. He emphasized the brooding character almost to the point of monotony, but it is hard to resist his proud vocal thrust, and he caressed phrases eloquently, especially in the insinuatingly sung soft passages.'   Horst Koegler, Opera News

 

   
   
Don Carlo in Zurich

Don Carlo in Zurich 2006                  Don Carlo in Zurich 2006

Don Carlo in Zurich 2006

 

 

 

Don Carlo in Zurich 2006

 

Don Carlo in Zurich 2006

 

 

Don Carlo in Zurich 2006

Don Carlo in Zurich 2006

Don Carlo in Zurich 2006

Don Carlo in Zurich 2006

   
   

 

Don Carlo in Vienna

 

'.....the Argentinian has a shattering interpretative presence and his highly disciplined vocal style, effortless production, and virile tenor timbre hit the nail on the head in his musical interpretation; so much so that it overshadowed most of his colleagues.  That obviously means a certain danger for other prominent names, particularly as this character is an important mosaic stone in the documentation of role versatility (and makes) the name of “Cura” stands stronger today than ever before.'  Opernglas 

 

José Cura as Don Carlo in the Vienna production - 2006

 

 

 

José Cura as Don Carlo in the Vienna production - 2006

 

 

 

José Cura as Don Carlo in the Vienna production - 2006

        

José Cura backstage after Don Carlo in the Vienna production - 2006
 

 

   
   

 


 

 

Concert at Assisi

   
 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

Calendar 2017

 

Month

Dates

Work

Theater

City

January

28, 31

La Bohème (production)

RSO

http://www.operan.se/in-english/

Stockholm

February

4, 7, 10, 16, 19

La Bohème (production)

RSO

http://www.operan.se/in-english/

Stockholm

 February

19, 22, 25, 28

Tannhäuser

Salle Garnier Opera de Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo

 March

8, 9

Concert:  Symphonic

(Ecco Homo)

Smetana Hall Municipal House

www.fok.cz        www.obecnidum.cz

Prague

 May

7, 10, 13, 26 

Peter Grimes

Theater Bonn

Bonn

June

3, 7, 9, 12, 14

La Bohème (production)

RSO

http://www.operan.se/in-english/

Stockholm

June

16, 20, 22, 25, 27, 29

Otello

Opera royal de Wallonie 

www.operaliege.be

Liege

July

8, 15 

Peter Grimes

Theater Bonn

Bonn

 October

4, 5

Concert:  Symphonic

Smetana Hall Municipal House

www.fok.cz        www.obecnidum.cz

Prague

 December

13, 14

Concert:  Symphonic

Smetana Hall Municipal House

www.fok.cz        www.obecnidum.cz

Prague

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

This page is an UNOFFICIAL fan page Mistakes found in these pages are our mistakes and our responsibility.   

 

This fan page is dedicated to promoting the artistry of  José Cura.  We are supported and encouraged by Cura fans from around the world:  without these wonderful people, we wouldn't be able to keep up with the extraordinary career of this fabulous musical talent. 

 

If you have something concerning Mr. Cura you would like to share, contact me at bravocura@cox.net

 

Note that some of the material included on these pages are covered by copyright laws.  Please respect the rights of the owners.

 

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Last Updated:  Monday, January 16, 2017  © Copyright: Kira