Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director

 

 

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José Cura, tenor, conductor, composer, director.

 

 
 

 

  José Cura and Manon Lescaut were a perfect match:  a young, energetic, passionate tenor in the role of the young, energetic, passionate Renato des Grieux in Puccini's early (young, energetic, passionate) opera.  It's fortunate that the results of this happy marriage of music and artist has been preserved in both CD and DVD forma

 


 

 

Click on either picture if you are interested and able to attend the event!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Look at José Cura

American Record Guide

Marion Lignana Rosenberg

September / October 1999

 [Excerpt]

Those interested in seeing [José Cura] in top form need look no further than the Scala video of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.  In addition to an incomparably beautiful reading by Riccardo Muti and the La Scala Orchestra (the last act, tinged with the ashen colors of death, is almost unbearably painful), the video preserves Cura’s remarkable debut as Des Grieux.  When asked what made his Manon different from Massenet’s, Puccini indicated that it was the prominence accorded the young chevalier, replying that he had “invested all [his] emotion in the voice of that man, wounded in his heart.”  It is precisely this quality of vulnerability, of devastating emotional honesty, that sets Cura’s Des Grieux apart.  Though Manon Lescaut has hardly lacked for distinguished tenor protagonists (Pertile, Bjoerling, and Domingo among them), this young man has already made his mark on the role:  his soaring cries in Act IV, thrilling though they may be, transcend mere vocal beauty, conveying a desperate, almost animalistic anguish.  To be sure, Cura takes some time to warm up, both musically and dramatically, but the overall performance makes one anticipate all the more keenly his forthcoming Erato recital of verismo arias….

 


 

 


 

 


 

 
Amazon.co.uk Review

This live performance from June 1998 at La Scala is clearly banking on the star power of José Cura, who indeed makes his memorable mark on des Grieux. It's exactly the kind of role to absorb Cura's drawbacks (his moments of insecurity and odd phrasings) and let his strengths shine, and Cura uses his wonderfully dark, ardent tenor to embody des Grieux in all his helpless passion. As the title heroine, Maria Guleghina can be exasperatingly supercharged one moment, beguiling the next. She's not all that convincing as the character's frantic mood shifts, but is emotionally gripping in her bleak final monologue. Riccardo Muti is less uptight than usual in the pit and throws welcome light on the score's notable symphonic depth, bringing a sense of coherency to Puccini's not-quite-perfected vision. Some moments of frazzled string ensemble aside, the band plays beautifully. --Thomas May

Manon Lescaut, 1998, Milan:   "Muti is another conductor who revels in Puccinian passion.  This is a flat-out, heavy-breathing production, directed by Italian film-and-stage dive Liliana Cavani.  With Maria Guleghina (Manon) and José Cura (des Grieux), she has two fine actors, pretty as movie stars, who pour on the sex.  And, yes, they can sing.  I had to keep fanning myself." Inside Bay Area, 13 January 2006.
 

Manon Lescaut, 1998, Milan:   'This live recording from Teatro alla Scala, Milan features two of the most exciting young voices in the world of opera, soprano Maria Guleghina and tenor José Cura. Cura sings the famous aria 'Donna non vidi mai' with swelling ardor and warm, rich tone. This is a highly charged dramatic recording.' CDConnection

 

Manon Lescaut, 1998, Milan:  Deutsche Grammophon has just embarked on a new collaboration with La Scala in Milan whose first fruit is a new live recording of Puccini's Manon Lescaut.  This recording is at its best in the two outer acts of the drama.  In the final act the orchestra is at its very best under the baton of Riccardo Muti and soprano Maria Guleghina's death scene is poignantly convincing.  In the opening act, José Cura is delightful as the young lover.'  Jeursalem Post. 19 April 2000

 


 

Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  We offer it only a a general guide but it should not be considered definitive.

 

 

Blazing Passions: José Cura and Maria Guleghina Desire Each Other

Der Tagesspiegel

Frederik Hanssen

7 April 2000

[ Excerpt]

We don't know what the temperatures were in Milan in June 1998 but the nights were hot in the Teatro alla Scala: you can hear that now on the new Manon Lescaut recording with Riccardo Muti.  Even if the expression "live recording" is somewhat exaggerated for a product that has been mixed over several evenings, the sound engineers have done a great job. With this rich spatial sound authenticated by subtle stage noises, the listener really feels "in the middle of it instead of just being there."  Muti shows in an exciting way why Puccini was able to establish his world fame with Manon Lescaut. After all, with his 1893 version of the material he challenged none other than the popular French composer Massenet, whose Manon setting has been triumphant around the world since 1884. But while Massenet had created a masterpiece of opéra comique full of elegance and coquetry, Puccini believed he had found the "modern way": "Massenet saw the piece as a Frenchman, with powder puff and minuets, and as an Italian I feel above all desperate passion."

And that's exactly what the opera sounds like with Muti: The refinement of Puccini realism unfolds so directly, so organically, that more happens than usual on successful Puccini evenings: the music not only reproduces the supposed reality in a deceptively real way, but it begins to live, to hypnotize.

The musicians play as if they were direct descendants of the protagonists, as if the tragic story of this superhuman love was part of their family history - and in José Cura's case, too, the role identification is one hundred percent effective.  The Argentinean, currently considered the world's most erotic tenor but otherwise little known for his assured taste, here brings his gifts to full development. His energetic, youthful impetuosity, his desire to sob, scream, moan - he is allowed to live it all out in the emotional turmoil of this performance.

His partner Maria Guleghina, on the other hand, is a bit mature for the child-woman Manon of the first two acts and her piano tones wobble precariously - but in the finale, when drama is required, her vocal diva approach proves to be highly effective.

 

 


 

 

Classical CD of the Week – Manon Lescaut

Daily Telegraph

Alan Blyth

14 April 2000

This performance of Puccini’s earliest success benefits from being recorded live at La Scala in 1998. Conducting in his own house, Riccardo Muti secures a finely shaped, cogent reading of a piece that needs careful treatment if it not to sprawl.  He is rewarded by predominantly vital and illuminating contributions from both singers and players.

Maria Guleghina follows a host of distinguished sopranos, from Albanese and Callas onwards, who have reveled in the histrionic opportunities of the title role.  She may occasionally press too hard on her tone, but, by and large, her vibrant, involved singing brings the willful, sentimental heroine to life.

Few have seemed so ideally suited to the impulsive, obsessed Des Grieux as is José Cura, with his ardent, exciting singing.  So the duets are given their due.  Gallo is nicely insouciant as the scheming Lescaut, and Roni is properly nasty and overweening as old Geronte.

Though the famous recordings by Callas and Caballe are not surpassed, this one is worthy to be placed beside them in the work’s discography.

 


 

 



 

 


 


 

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut

Associated Press

Mike Silverman

3 May 2000

 [Excerpt]

This was Puccini’s first big hit, and though it’s overshadowed today by La bohème and Tosca, it brims with a youthful energy and tunefulness the latter masterpieces can’t quite match.

A live recording conducted by Riccardo Muti in 1998 at La Scala, the shrine of Italian opera, this is still an international enterprise, with a Russian soprano and an Argentinian tenor in the roles of the ill-fated lovers, Manon Lescaut and the Chevalier Des Grieux.  Once there might have been half a dozen Italian sopranos and tenors who could handle these parts with distinction, but no longer!

The chief interest here is José Cura, the hot young tenor from Argentina who has been creating a stir in houses around the world with his potent vocalism and smoldering good looks.  As Des Grieux he leaves a mixed impression.  There’s a dry, hooded quality to much of his singing in the lower range but when he has to exert himself in climaxes on high notes, he summons a thrilling, virile sound that puts him in the major leagues.

Soprano Maria Guleghina is a thoroughly satisfactory Manon…  Italian baritone Lucio Gallo does well in the relatively brief role of Manon’s sympathetic brother, Lescaut.

 

 



 

Manon Lescaut Consumes with Passion

Cura and Muti ignite La Scala recording

Dallas Morning News

Scott Contrell

30 May 2000

[Excerpt]

Manon Lescaut may have been the greatest success of Puccini’s lifetime, but in the wake of the later operas La Bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly, it has become something of an also-ran in the opera house.  But then, you can argue that it’s the very definition of hyper-romantic operatic excess.

A new recording from Milan’s La Scala opera house won’t make a front-runner of Manon Lescaut but it has two formidable assets.  One is the Argentine tenor José Cura, who’s as exciting a Des Grieux as we’re likely to hear anytime soon.  He certainly has the vocal goods, with a hot-coals burn, but he also perfectly balances youthful ardor with elegance and assurance.

The other major asset is conductor Riccardo Muti, who has this hot-blooded music in his veins.  […]  Maria Guleghina’s Manon is a mixed blessing, but the role itself asks for more than any one soprano is likely to supply.  Ms. Guleghina is best as the vain, spoiled, kept woman of Act 2, if anything overdoing it.  She’s also surprisingly convincing in the last act, letting her otherwise huge soprano go soft and spongy.  The problem is that she uses the same soft-and-spongy effect for the naïve 18-year-old we first meet on her way to a convent, and it’s not convincing for a moment.  And her diction is spongy from start to finish.

Lucio Galo is an honorable Lescaut, his baritone firm and well managed.  Luigi Roni is a bit nondescript as Geronte.  We miss the irony, the sarcasm and even some of the rage.

The engineers have supplied surprisingly vivid, “You are there” sonics.  The varying perspectives and occasional creaks only heighten the realism.  I’ll take this over a sterile studio recording any day.

 

 


[...]

Muti directs an uncommonly vital and blazingly theatrical performance, eliciting first-class playing from his orchestra and outstanding singing from his principals and chorus. Rarely has this score received such a wide range of dynamic nuance and subtlety, yet Muti points the climaxes of the middle acts with tremendous power and verismo thrust. In his best recording to date, José Cura makes a virile, ardent Count des Grieux, singing with strength and delicacy. In the deportation scene of Act III, the Argentinean tenor characterizes with alarming dramatic intensity, but his refined vocalism and heroic tone carry him through.

As Manon, Maria Guleghina's rich Slavic timbre is less naturally suited to Puccini, and, after some initial indistinct enunciation, she delivers an affecting In quelle trine morbide. In the tragic finale, the Ukrainian soprano rises to the challenge of Sola, perduta, abbandonata superbly. Cura and Guleghina are both at their finest here, vocalizing with the kind of ripe, unapologetically theatrical singing one too rarely hears today.

 


 

Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  We offer it only a a general guide but it should not be considered definitive.

Manon Lescaut: Maria Guleghina, José Cura, Lucio Gallo

 

El Cultural

Alonso Gonzalo

12 April 2000

 

[Excerpt]

The now legendary series of live recordings from La Scala, the result of the collaboration between the theater and DG, continues with a Manon Lescaut by Puccini recorded in June 1998. The cast brings together three of the most prominent voices of their respective fach.

María Guleghina, whom we have not had an opportunity to see in Madrid, is one of today’s most interesting sopranos. Her voice, almost lyrical-spinto, does not have a special beauty but does have personality. Her case, at least on disc, is similar to that of Zeani or Kabaivanska, sopranos of the recent past whose most outstanding feature was the dramatic nature of their performances. Guleghina follows in this line.

Des Grieux's role is, if possible, more vocally difficult than Otello's, due to its central and tense tessitura. That is why Domingo, for example, removed it from his repertoire even as he continued singing the Moor. Cura's timbre is attractive, manly, warm.  On this recording he is heard clearly and well,  with unusual nuances in No! Pazzo son! sung in slow tempo but with great communication. Gallo is a correct Lescaut but lacks in character.

 


 

 


 

Giacomo Puccini: Manon Lescaut (TDK DVD): This is a high-powered production from La Scala with Riccardo Muti conducting a star-studded cast (Maria Guleghina in the title role, supported by José Cura and Lucio Gallo.) It is predictably excellent.

There will never be a univeral agreement among music-lovers as to which opera is better, Massenet's Manon or Puccini's Manon Lescaut. Puccini's libretto is not as logically structured as Massenet's, but it is intensely impassioned, and Muti and his cast find this intensity very much to their taste.

 


 

 


 

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Digital Download Now Available!

 

José Cura’s acclaimed rendition of Rachmaninov 2nd Symphony in E minor, Op. 27, is now available for digital download.

José has remastered the original recording, applying modern technical improvements that make the new release pop with clarity and color.  The symphony is presented without the usual cuts, giving the listener the chance to hear this popular, beloved symphony as intended, with the composer’s genius in melodic invention and rich orchestration showcased.

“A performance you imagined but never dreamed you would experience: fast and powerful, impressive, vivacious. Great Rachmaninov playing.” Classical Music Web

 

Available on all major online platforms including Google Play, Spotify, Amazon....

 


 

Resources

 

José Cura Facebook PR.

 

 

Visit at JoseCura.com

 

 

Find Cura on Wikipedia!

José Cura on Wikipedia.  

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

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

 

 

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

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About | Awards and Honors | José Cura | Cover Photos | Calendar | Concerts - Early | Concerts | Discography | Guest Artist - Budapest | Guest Artist - Prague | Guest Artist - Sinfonia Varsovia | Media | Opera Work | Opera Work 2 | Photos | Press


Last Updated: Sunday, July 26 , 2020 © Copyright: Kira