Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director


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Back to reconstruction we go!  This week we restore articles from 2007, so hope you enjoy our trip backwards in time!



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27 & 30

Fanciulla del west

Wiener Staatsoper



3 & 6

Fanciulla del west

Wiener Staatsoper





Check out the website by clicking the photo above

Thanks to Ute for the heads up!





Cura's Own Turandot



BravoCura Review

For reasons never (success)fully articulated, management at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie elected to break with nearly 100 years of tradition to offer a truncated version of Giacomo Puccini’s last masterpiece, Turandot, despite the great composer’s deathbed plea that the work be performed only after it was completed.  The result was a production that promised much, delivered a great deal, but in the end failed to satisfy.     

The house made one correct decision:  they hired the best possible director to stage the abbreviated opera, one who knows this work intimately and whose fertile imagination overcomes obstacles that would stymie lesser artists.  José Cura, who also designed the set and sang the role of Calaf, approached the work with a deep understanding of Puccini’s motivation and a reverence for both book and composition.  His plan seemed admirably sensible but hardly simplistic:  it took creativity and vision to slice open the stage floor to invoke the horror of Turandot’s reign while introducing the element of school kids learning about the ancient story and occasionally interacting with the characters.  Incorporating tradition while breaking boundaries distinguishes many of Cura productions and this Turandot could have been a model of timelessness, if only….. Unfortunately, the mandated abbreviation distorted the narrative beyond the director’s control, shifting the dramatic momentum from Turandot to Liù.  And without the final confrontation between Calaf and Turandot (the only time they are alone) and its triumphant conclusion the audience was left in limbo, denied the catharsis that comes with the resolution of the drama. Cura crafted as fine an emotional ending as possible under the circumstances, but it wasn’t Turandot

As a singing actor, Cura managed a unique interpretation which added depth to Calaf, a character too often portrayed as a shallow, ruthless, cold-blooded brute.  The Argentine is thoroughly familiar with Puccini’s heroes:  he, more than most, seems to understand that this last opera was the culmination of the Puccini male / female dynamic, the logical next step from the composer who created the heroic Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca and the girl who had never given away a kiss in Fanciulla.  The yin / yang of Turandot and Liù, the two extremes of femininity, can convince only if the object of their love is truly worthy.  As played with nobility and sensitivity by Cura, this Calaf certainly is:  he steadfastly remains principled and honorable, treating his father with love and respect and a slave girl and a princess with equal dignity and kindness, evincing fearlessness in the face of death and offering grace when he could have claimed victory.  Vocally, Cura was remarkable, singing with security, freely unleashing the immense power of his voice but just as easily pulling it back to release it as spun silk when needed.  The private moment between Turandot and Calaf at the end of Act II, when he takes pity on her, was a moment of sheer beauty and indelible sweetness.  Surprisingly, Nessun dorma, sung with an intensity approaching anger, was less successful, not in quality but in character.

Turandot is an intimidating role, one of the most difficult that a dramatic soprano can perform, with the vocal fireworks often reduced to screams rising above the orchestra; few who attempt it survive unscathed.  Tiziana Caruso managed the vocally fiendish role with skill and mostly succeeded; she was less convincing as an actress.  In this production, Turandot picks Calaf as her next suitor and so there is, from the beginning, a certain connectivity and inevitability inherent in their relationship.  Caruso was unable to bring that shading to her characterization, perhaps interpreting too literally her ice princess.  Chemistry between the two leads, as a result, was lacking.

As Liù, Heather Engebretson, a petite woman in the early years of what should be an admirable career, sang with remarkable purity, though marshalling her resources to push through Puccini’s heavy orchestra remained a challenge.  Luca Dall’Amico offered a nicely varnish baritone as Timur.  Patrick Delcour, Xavier Rouillon, and Papuna Tchuradze presented both solid singing and good comic timing as Ping, Pang and Pong.  The chorus, cleverly located along the ramparts of the stylized Forbidden City, convinced; the children’s chorus, on stage throughout the evening as part of the class learning about the tale, where well used.  The orchestra could have used a bit more nuance and occasional restraint but overall created a nice sonic environment.

This production was a charming, warm, and inventive interpretation of 2/3 of Puccini’s masterpiece.  Cura produced the most magical solution one can imagine to end the shortened evening but the constraints imposed on him denied the audience the sense of fulfillment and joy Puccini wanted us to experience:  the redeeming power of love so deep, so true, so strong that death cannot diminish it.  It left us wondering what Cura could have done had he been given the opportunity to stage the complete opera.  Hopefully we will find out someday.


BravoCura Random Musings on Turandot


The use of the children’s chorus as part of the production was inspired and deserves to be highlighted for the creative use these young singers; however, they remained on the edge of the stage throughout the evening and for much of the time obscured sight-lines for a swathe of the audience.  As a result, there were moments of disembodied singing from the primary cast and, after Liù’s suicide, many saw only Timur and Calaf grieving over an invisible body.  Perhaps a different configuration would have mitigated the issue.


Lighting was both impressive and overwhelming.  Whenever Turandot was on stage, pure, brilliant white light was focused on her, the reflection off of her white outfits leaching the color out of everything else on stage, including the other characters.  The concept was good—who could resist such a presence—but perhaps, in the interest of better visuals and truer colors, the white light could have been gradually toned down as Turandot thaws and wavers during the evening. 


Certainly the stage design was in place before anyone realized how tiny Heather Engebretson was (right before the start of Act II, we watched as she gleefully slide between the bars in her cell, her slight body fitting through with room to spare), but her small stature coupled with her being confined in the pits for much of the opera minimized her presence and resulted in her being nearly invisible.  Liù is a secondary role to begin with, thrust out of the shadows by Timur in Act I and then returning to those shadows for much of the rest of the work; anything that further obscures her becomes problematic.  There is always the danger in this role, regardless of where staged, that Liù won’t be present enough, won’t cast a big enough personality, to justify audience sympathy when dies; in this case the dangers were realized.  Finding a way to remain present is just one of those things young artists need to learn as they move forward in their careers.  Hopefully, Engebretson gained insight from watching José Cura.  Even if he magically shrank to 4 foot, he would still command the stage because he has learned the process of self-projection, of sucking up the energy that comes from the stage itself and concentrating it before sending it out toward the audience. 


Calaf was better without the ponytail.


Many see Turandot as a bleak and unwieldy opera with such an enormous emotional ‘punch’ with the death of the beloved Liù that it is unable to recover. The completion of Act III by Franco Alfano following Puccini’s outline allows the opera to end as Puccini wanted it to end, with the banishing of darkness, the dawning of a new age, and the triumph of love over death--but with an unfortunately weak start. The exquisite balance of Puccini design, the universality of his themes, the eternal conflict of man and woman and the healing power of love remain relatively intact, less artfully rendered; Liù’s death was a necessary parallel to the death of the Prince of Persia. an essential act that moves concept of love from abstract to real for Turandot, but Alfano fails to allow sufficient time to mourn the loss or to capitalize on its impact. After so many male deaths, a female death is required to break Turandot, to allow her to accept her humanity and embrace love; the yin and yang, the male and female, the Prince and the slave girl, completes the cycle.  Liù’s death allows for the exorcism of Princess Lo-u-Ling and sets Turandot free.  Puccini would have found a way to convey this transition; Alfano, alas, could not.


Some fault the character of Calaf as being too arrogant, too selfish, too much like Turandot in his single-minded pursuit of goals. Those who think of Calaf as a cad don’t understand Puccini’s relationship with his male heroes--if these men have weaknesses, they are noble weaknesses. To a certain extent, they are the men Puccini wanted to be:  strong, honorable, willing to die for what they believed in, motivated by a love so strong nothing could break it.  Some blame for the misunderstanding is clearly sourced to Alfano’s too quick transition, which doesn't allow Calaf time to to grieve adequately for Liù before moving forward with Turandot.  That wasn’t in keeping with the character Puccini wrote:  from the beginning his Calaf was a compassionate man who fully embraced Liù as an equal and treated her with the same respect he gave his father.  When he offered Turandot his riddle, it wasn’t because he was a master manipulator attempting to further humiliate her but because he was genuinely moved by her distress and because, in deference to her tale of Lo-u-Ling, he wanted to let her know he would not use brute force against her.  Some productions feature a Nessun dorma sung in anger or swagger but in context it is primarily an expression of joy and optimism at besting fate—Calaf has reclaimed his destiny, reunited with his father, and found love.  This is a man who has finally found his way out of darkness and no matter what happens he will have won.  When Liù and Timur are brought in before Turandot in Act III, Puccini’s written instruction is that Calaf sets himself in front of Liù to protect her.  When he ‘allows’ Liù to die, he is fully restrained; instead he gambles that they can survive until dawn if only they keep the secret.  Some odern interpretations feature Calaf signaling his victory over Turandot with a physical assault; that would be totally out of character, as is the idea that any woman who feared rape her entire life would suddenly embrace the man who raped her ludicrous, but even more fundamental is the idea of rape is so outside the universe of Puccini that including it undermines everything he believed in.  Calaf is a true Puccini hero, a transforming agent who guides Turandot away from the blackness and into the light through courage, kindness, generosity, and honor.  He is Puccini’s final hero, representing Puccini’s constant belief in the power of love.  He is a great invention.


As usually portrayed, Turandot is a much more problematic character than Calaf because all we know of her is contained in exposition and in her In questa reggia.  Until the final act, she doesn't interact with any other character directly; she is a cipher. In Liège, director Cura made an effort to humanize her by building a connection between the Princess and the Prince in the opening scene and again in Act II when Turandot physically reaches out to Calaf (a beautiful moment) but far too often Turandot is denied any human element, making her transition at the end of Act III somewhat improbable.  There are, however, snippets of humanity in Act II that can be emphasized, such when Calaf falters on the final answer and Turandot offers a suggestion that helps him. Certainly her emotional breakdown at the end of the Act II signals the change to come, as does her reaction to Liù’s death (at least in Liège). 


What weakens Turandot is the abrupt change in tone after the death of Liù.  If some enterprising composer/director/tenor (hint) were to step into the mix and write a better transitional scene—add five minutes more of music, for example—which  better portrays the emotional aftermath of Liù’s suicide, the opera would be the better for it. 


So many people want to hate Turandot because of its blackness but in many ways it seems to be Puccini’s most optimistic and forward looking work.  It is allegory based on an ancient tale, pitting one man against a seemingly unstoppable and powerful force.  The ending, with Turandot repeating Liù’s name for Calaf, is a fitting end to the nightmare that ensnared too many.


Angry Calaf (Nessun Dorma)
























































Operation Restore: Articles and Interviews

Mama Mia! That's some tenor

Shanghai Daily

Created: 2007-2-9  

Michelle Qiao

Argentine tenor Jose Cura sings a superb Prince Calaf in "Turandot" and immodestly says his "good shape, big and strong" is ideal for the role. But he calls the greedy, kingdom-hunting character "disgusting" and hopes Chinese audiences won't think ill of him, writes Michelle Qiao.

Opera singers often identify with, even love their roles, but Argentine tenor Jose Cura loathes "Prince Calaf," his character in the opera "Turandot" staging this weekend at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

"'Turandot' is not a love tale, but a tale of interests and greedy people trying to seize power," the tenor said during a press conference this week.

"The character of Calaf is not romantic. Chinese Princess Turandot loves Calaf but Calaf wants her for her kingdom, money and power. He is superficially charming but behind the mask he's an idiot, disgusting.

"The Prince has lost his own kingdom and searched in the world for another kingdom," says Cura. "He put in danger the people he loves to obtain something he wants."

"I'm sorry that for the first time in China, I must play an idiot. Please don't think ill of me or link me with the character."

However, playing the black-hearted and designing prince, the tenor still impressed his Shanghai audience with his charming "surface" and superb voice last night.

This production of "Turandot" is a treat for the eyes because both Cura and soprano Paoletta Marrocu, who sings Turandot, are in good shape compared with other overweight Calafs and Turandots in the opera world.

"My good shape, big and strong, is the result of many years of physical training in my early days," says Cura, wearing a pink sweater and a pair of comfortable white sneakers. "In the past, a long time ago, I weighed 20 kilos less. Now I'm 44, 20 kilos more, and 20 years older."

But he can still pass for a prince.

"For roles in modern theater, if you look like the character it's better for the theater fantasy. Old audiences gave the greatest importance to good singing. But the younger generation likes good spectacles."

Cura's charisma shone from the start of the production created by the Shanghai Grand Theater and the Zurich Opera House, when he showed up like a sexy secret agent in a black leather jacket, a tight-fitting gray vest and shades.

In sharp contrast to the antique green copper hues of the set and the icy demeanor of Princess Turandot, Prince Calaf casually smoked a cigarette and searched his laptop for answers to Turandot' love-or-death riddles.

He even stretched on the ground to sing his famous aria "Nessun Dorma," perfectly striking high B. His melodious vocals with beautifully held top notes were expertly controlled.

With the Bund as the backdrop, the prince ended his dangerous love pursuit with a romantic candle-lit dinner with the cruel princess who had actually fallen in love and changed her weighty formal robes for a fitted scarlet evening gown.

"Cura was not only acting, but also creating," says Zhang Guoyong, head of the Shanghai Opera House. "He demonstrated the talent of a true master."

Unlike other opera stars who often give pleasant, bland comments during interviews, Cura was bold and forthright. "Mama Mia," he occasionally exclaimed when occasionally targeted with surprising questions.

"I didn't know I'm famous in China," he said. "I thought I was completely unknown and so I could relax on stage. Now you will expect so much from me and I must rise to the challenge."

No matter whether he likes it or not, Cura is widely known in China as "the world's fourth tenor" (after Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras).

"You can say I'm the successor of the three tenors who are as old as my father and you are also the successor of your own parents, right?" he says. "We are the next generation and the world was so different from their time around 30 years ago when CDs and DVDs had just been invented. "Now we face a big crisis of new media and the Internet and MP3s will be the future. If Bach were alive today, he might use a computer to write music. It's very complicated, not simply being a successor. It's difficult to succeed in the opera world today."

Cura has been a rare artist who's not only a tenor, but also a conductor and composer. In addition to the two "Turandot" operas, he will conduct the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra for a concert at the Shanghai Grand Theater on February 14.

"I will also try the role as an opera director," says Cura. "In every role I have put all my love, so I cannot say which role I'm best at. But what makes me happiest is conducting. I meant to do some deep, profound music for the Shanghai audience. But the organizers asked me to do some romantic music for Valentine's Day, such as 'Romeo and Juliet'."

As a tenor of IT times, Cura has an iPod with him that is filled with jazz, symphonic music, and his favorite singer Karen Carpenter - but no operas.

"I don't like some untuned pop music," says the tenor. "I cannot have music as a background. If music is there, I will have to pay attention to it. So I only like music with dramatic objectives."

Despite its modern elements, this production of "Turandot" closely follows the original Puccini plot. Princess of China, the dangerously beautiful Turandot, refuses to marry anyone but the man who can answer her three riddles. All suitors who fail will be put to death.

Enchanted by her beauty - and kingdom - the unknown Prince Calaf dares to try and at last succeeds, at the cost of the life of his slave girl Liu, who is in love with him.

"Prince Calaf has a disgusting personality," repeats Cura. "He can be a citizen of any country of any race, like the greedy people of all times. They don't hesitate to kill their mother to succeed."

Well, maybe Cura feels it's a pity to show up as a man with disgusting personality for his China debut. But through his on-stage acting and off-stage talking, the tenor has showed Shanghai the unique personality behind "the fourth tenor."



The Two Loves of José Cura

19 October 2007

Pedro Boléo


The voice of Argentine José Cura can be heard today in Lisbon.  And that is only one part; after the interval he picks up the baton and takes Beethoven by the horns.  Rebelliousness or professionalism?

He has two loves:  the baton and the voice.  Two forms of expression of the same personality.  José Cura says that he used to want to be a maestro, but had to sing to sustain his family.  Now it is not quite so true:  the Maestro José also sustains the family, and Cura did not stop being a tenor.  Today, in the Teatro San Carlos in Lisbon, he will sing some arias from opera but the main course of the evening is the 9th Symphony of Beethoven, conducted by this artist in search of joy.  The same work, the 9th, the most emblematic of the ‘genius,’ as the maestro without fear states.

How?  Does he sing and direct the singers?  Is he behind and in front of the orchestra?  José Cura explains:  “The artist prepares a show—it can be one part, the other part, or both.” In 2003, in Hamburg, he directed an opera and after the interval he jumped on stage to sing another.  Of course:  “Nobody finds it strange that DeNira goes behind the camera.  Or that Woody Allen is the actor in his films.  But in opera…”

José Cura fights against the established ideas and prefers to consider himself a total artist.  Or at least an artist free to do as he wants.  A rebel?  “Not in an unpleasant sense, but an artist has the right to create following his own reality and instinct,” he says.

He has already been told he does too many things:  he responds that to be an artist “is not only to be safe and avoid risk.”  He has already been criticized for singing and gesticulating, as if directing the orchestra:  he argues that an artist “must be true to their own nature.”  Before we even ask about the 9th Symphony he is about to conduct, José Cura adjusts the chair in his dressing room at the San Carlos and adds Beethoven to the discussion.  “If they had dictated to Beethoven what he should have done, he would not have been able to do what he did to the art of the symphony.” And remember: “About the symphony they said it was as unpleasant as the sound of a bag of nails.  That it was banal.  That there was 55 minutes more than what was needed.  Today, we know that it is the cornerstone of symphonic music.”

And will Cura launch himself into the ‘cornerstone’ as if it were nothing?  He has the size, the physical strength, and the enthusiasm, certainly, but does he have the right stuff?  “Yes, I feel the responsibility,” says the singing, slouching in his chair.  “But on the other hand, it is simple:  simply respect what the genius wrote.  We must put ourselves into the hands of the composer.” It is then that José Cura leans forward and starts offering a thousand ideas about how the symphony could go.  He puts himself in the hands of Beethoven. “Many conductors today still think they can change a symphony to the better.  It is a fairly common arrogance.  Even if it was ‘to improve it’…. Does it need to be improved?” Asks José Cura.  We are, by the way, reminded of the version of the 9th by Maestro Herbert von Karajan, and he said jokingly:  “It was you who said it, not me.”  But he is now out of jokes:  “There were excesses of a pseudo-romantic kitsch for a while.  Maybe people needed it that in the post-war period- a mist, one to hide the exaggerated, excessive mannerism, distilled, but it has its time.  We must put this in its historical context.” Today things are different, he says.  “Also because there are better editions of the scores.  And we arrive at impressive conclusions.  For example, Beethoven wanted certain passages taken more quickly.” And just so there is no misunderstanding, the Argentine maestro warns:  “Many people will find my interpretation strange and original.  But it is only what is written.” 

We then move to José Cura, tenor—the same man but a star with different demands:  attitude on stage, physical appearance, theatrical capabilities.  Is this just a marketing of his image?  “I do not know what is marketing,” he says immediately.  “It has to do with being beautiful or not.” And he confesses that “many roles that I would like to play are or stranger or ugly types, but they do not let me do them.  It is true that in spite of everything, we all have a physical self that determines the type of character.”

José Cura is a man of 45 years, an opera superstar but also a simple and direct person, with a moving honesty in how he speaks.  He is not a man of poses, although he knows how to be an actor and give a performance.  The keyword that connects to success is “professionalism – a word that is used often but is worth ever less.” But in music it is a different case:  “It is a problem that music is not like medicine.  If a surgeon doesn’t have the degree, then he is not going to cut into your intestines.  But in music the title does not mean anything.  Many people say that are [professional] but they are not.  They deceive the public.”

We could see in him as a modern and multifaceted Pavarotti, one who goes to the gym, takes photographs (another great passion) plays guitar, singes, conducts, directs.  But no—he is only José Cura, a rebel and a respectful, popular artist in opera houses, a stage animal, a man with an open mind and with ‘social commitments’ (Cura is a founding partner of the Portuguese Association against the Leukemia).

Is this rebellion?  Yes and no.  He recalls Beethoven, once again: “If it were not for the rebels we would be in the stone age.”

The Gala Concert

Lisbon, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos
Today at 21h Chelsey Schill (soprano), Maria Luisa de Freitas (soprano), José Cura and José Manuel Araújo (tenor); Johannes von Duisburg (bass). Musical Direction [Symphony No. 9]: Jose Cura; Musical direction: Mario de Rose. Portuguese Symphony Orchestra. Choir of San Carlos. Arias, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Giordano and Verdi. 9. St symphony (Symphony Coral, op.125) from Beethoven


Publico Article:  two loves




José Cura


Forum Opéra

P. Rinck

September 2007





Q:  We hear you singing certain French roles regularly (Samson, Don José); we wait for your take on the role in Rodrigue (Le Cid) in January 2008. What is your relationship with France today?

JC: I lived in Paris for 5 years, but today I have no special link with France.  At least, no more than with other countries.  I have a close relationship with Spain, the country where I live, and also with Portugal because I am a founder of the Society against Leukaemia and so there I do a different type of work, extra-music.

Q:  You proposed a master class in Nancy.  In the past we have usually seen in the role of professor stars grown a bit old….but a tenor at the peak of his art, what does it gain you to teach? 

JC: It was not me who proposed the masterclass.  We say in Argentina, “You should never give advice if you are not asked.”  I am here because I was invited.  But I came with pleasure because I have done a masterclass almost everywhere in the world in the last four years.  I have done some in Russian conservatories, in Moscow and Yekaterinburg, but also at the School of Music in Indiana and again in Buenos Aires.  In particular, I have just been named as a “visiting professor” by the Royal Academy of Music; I am the vice president of the British Youth Opera and patron of the Devon Opera.  I already devote a lot of time to teaching, because it is, I believe, the only way to ensure the continuation of our profession.  It is thus almost an obligated passage for “old singers” but why not do it [teach] at my age if I am asked?  To be named professor of the famous Royal Academy of Music, so selective in its choices of students and of professors who are not normally asked before they are 60!  I see this title as both an honor and a confirmation.

Q:  Who were your teachers?  And what did you learn from them?

JC: I am the rebel of classical music.  I have not ever had a teacher “in the pocket,” never had a fixed relationship with any single Maestro.  I always went to drink directly to the fountain I needed, according to the needs of the moment and according to the level of authority which I saw in the professor. That is why, when I am asked for a masterclass, I always insist on working from pieces that come from my repertoire.  One can only pass on the real experiences acquired in a specific field.  Omniscience does not exist.

Q:  We know your world success is not only as tenor but also as conductor. We notably remember the evening in Hamburg when you sang Canio after having directed Cavalleria …Recently, we have see you creating complete entertainment spectacles, like Comedia é finite or directing.  Do you seek to have a global, absolute vision of an opera?

JC: First, just an aside about Comedia e finite:  there will soon be a non-commercial DVD sent to those who are interested, in particular showing the making of and the results of a different approach to the opera.  I do indeed believe this is the first time that a singer had directed himself on stage. That [being first] always creates a scandal in the opera world where some have stayed in the 1950s.  But in the movies certain great actors direct themselves as well!  This approach will be, for once, from somebody who knows what he speaks about, because he is used to dirtying his hands, to do what it necessary and not from an outsider who always knows better than anyone else...

Next, I believe there is always a question of personality.  I have a very expansive personality.  That is obvious!  I have trouble being held within a cage…thus there is much to do!  Having said that, it is still a matter of making good things.  But until proven otherwise (and opinions are always welcome), I believe that I do not do so badly… Sometimes I am reproached for taking on too much, but this is how I like my life.  I still do photography and other things.  And when I return home, I mow the lawn before repainting the door…I accept all the points of view and criticism but I always repeat: “Live your life and I, I will live mine.” If someone does not like my work, then he shouldn’t come; those who like it, come! 

Q:  Do you have limits?  Are you preparing to surprise us in years to come with the incursion into other repertories, in the German language for example?

JC: OF course, everyone has limits.  I cannot do everything.  But before saying I cannot, I always try all the same!  I believe we live in an era of exaggerated specialization.  When you have to see a doctor, you are sent to a specialist in the right corner of the left eye!  And it is like this for everything - - it is necessary to find a little of the spirit of the Renaissance: mankind progresses by integrating diverse and varied disciplines.

As for German, I acknowledge that here precisely is one of my limits!  I am often asked to sing in this language, given my voice type.  I have always answered not at this moment. I am afraid of this language, so foreign to my way of being and articulating.  I am afraid of being ridiculous by missing the words or even more the accentuation.  The public has, fortunately but also regrettably, become accustomed to a “Cura style,” to a certain interpretive level on my part, and I do not want to fall below this level!  We cannot be the best everywhere, but if we begin to become less good than ourselves, it is the beginning of the end!  I am thus going to make an “experiment”: in 2010, I am going to sing Parsifal in concert, in the Deutsche Oper of Berlin, but I have asked to do it with the score in front of me!  It will allow me to see whether it is really a matter of limit of not.  After that, we shall talk again of it…..
Opéra Forum interview Sept 07




Andrea Chénier, a poet at the Liceu


Opera Actual

 Susana Gavina


[Excerpts / gist]


Andrea Chénier in BarcelonaThe Liceu of Barcelona opens its opera season on September 25 with Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier, a title that returns to this stage after an absence of two decades, with fourteen performances and three different casts, the first headed by Deborah Voigt, José Cura and Carlos Álvarez.  The Argentine tenor … explains the points of view he brings to this masterpiece of versimo.

Andrea Chénier is a title that has been on the programmed often at the Liceu; nevertheless, for more than two decades, “from the 1985-86 season,” confirms Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Gran Teatro, it has not been staged. “It is a work in the repertoire and one of the most popular in the recent history of the Liceu.  Because of that, programming it has become a small event.” One of the reasons for its absence in the last few years, according to Matabosch, “is the need to have great singers.” He has managed to bring together a cast headed by José Cura, Deborah Voigt and Carlos Álvarez, alternating with the voices of married couple Daniela Dessí and Fabio Armiliato together with Anthony Michaels-Moore and another set with Carlo Ventre, Anna Shafajinskaia and Silvio Zanon.  In the pit will be musical director Pinchas Steinberg. In staging the opera, the Liceu is not treating itself to a new production this time, something great theaters are usually expected to do at the beginning of the season.  Instead, they have hired a production from Tokyo designed by Philippe Arlaud, who this year presented Tannhäuser in Bayreuth. "It is not a question of this being a radical reading of Andrea Chénier,” the art director of the Liceu assures, “but it is not a traditional staging either.”

Jose Cura's presence in the Barcelona opera theater is turning into something of a habit and is the only one in this Spanish opera seasons. The Argentine tenor returns with a role he knows well, that of a revolutionary poet executed by his own comrades in arms. “I made my début in the role in 1997 in London, and I do not do it as much as I would like to,” he says with regret during a telephone interview from Buenos Aires, where he has returned after an absence of almost nine years. “Since then, I have sung it in maybe four or five productions.  It is not an opera that has become common, probably because the roles of the tenor and the soprano are very difficult.  Last year I did it in Bologna and it was recorded on DVD,” he adds. Cura confessed to ÓPERA ACTUAL that he did not know anything of the Japanese production and joked: “I hope not to be alarmed.  Do you know anything?” he asks.

For the tenor, a test

As far as the vocal characteristic of his role, the tenor underlines again that it a matter of “a very hard role for a tenor, but also very interesting because it is very complex.  In the first act, especially in the ‘Improvviso,’ the tenor is very present, the aria is quite dramatic and written central enough that one must try to be heard because the orchestra plays loudly.  Later, in the second act—and that is the most tremendous because there is a great monologue and a great duet—that is where the tenor is tested and discovers if the role fits your voice or not.  The third is simpler and the fourth is complicated because the first aria is practically written for a lyric tenor, very dreamy, almost with the scent of the aria ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Tosca,” according to Cura.  “It is a bit of the farewell. And later is the final duet, which is very badly written—and I don’t say this only because it is super-orchestrated but it has that effect, though it is tremendous. It is there where it really returns to test the tenor to see if one is a tenor for Chénier or not.  This is an opera which time and time again puts the singer to the test.” Singers such as Mario del Monaco, José Carreras, and Plácido Domingo have interpreted this role.  “Franco Corelli became famous because of it.  It is a role in which, much like Saint-Saëns’ Samson or Verdi’s Otello, even though it is a minor work when compared with these titles, the tenor is greatly illuminated and it can even mark your career.”

Giordano’s opera, with libretto by Luigi Illica, is inspired in part by a real person, a French poet with the same name who was a partisan in the French Revolution, although the execution of Luis XVI caused him to redefine his support, finally being executed after accusations of being a counterrevolutionary.  “I have a book at home about the life of the real Chénier, although as usual in opera the history is exaggerated for the melodramatic requirements of the plot. He was a revolutionary who died for speaking the truth.  He was an honest person and when he saw the ideals that he had originally defend transformed into what he had been criticizing, he decided to separate himself.  The opera denounces the system in power, independently of the party who holds it.  In this sense, the opera Andrea Chénier is both very durable and very current.” The tenor emphasizes a phrase in the second act, “that is almost not heard but which summarizes the opera:  ‘The old courtesan inclines her head to the new God.’  In the end they all pay homage to the same thing, independent of its color.  This phrase is turned ultimately against Andrea Chénier,” the tenor says.

Other horizons


José Cura confirms that he does not have any other projects planned in Spanish theaters, in particular the Teatro Real.  “In February 2006, when I was performing at the Liceu, the directors of the Real approached me and said they wanted me to return.  That seemed good to me and so I told them to go ahead, and that was it.  Perhaps there is no repertoire for me at the Real,” he said.   Nevertheless, he has agreements with the Barcelona theater through 2011, although he can not tell us what since “one of the agreements I have with the theater is not to reveal anything until they announce the season. The Liceu,” he continued, “is a very well organized theater.  Not even the Metropolitan in New York is signing that date.  In this, the Liceu is an international example.”


In respect to his participation in the macro project of José Moreno to build the Theater of the Three Cultures, a project from which soprano Montserrat Cabellé has removed herself, Cura affirms that he does not know anything, although he has not disassociated himself.  He is waiting for that call from Moreno. “The last time we spoke he told me all was moving ahead and that he would talk with us when the project was more firm.” And he insists that “I have never withdrawn but rather suspended [my involvement].  If when they finish my calendar allows me, I would love to continue with it.”     




José Cura Returns to the Colón

 His voice will be heard again

After eight years without a role in a production at the theater, the tenor will star in the main role in Samson et Dalila, which premiers tomorrow.  Tuesday he sang in Rosario, his city, at the festival for the 50th anniversary to the Monument to the Flag. 

 La Razon

Geraldine Mitelman


José Cura in Argentina, June 2007Dressed in a black T-shirt and looking very casual, the Rosarino tenor José Cura gave advanced details of Samson et Dalila, the opera by Camille Saint-Saëns that he stars in, along with mezzo soprano Cecilia Díaz.

The singer, who has not performed in the Colón season for eight years, proved to be happy and very funny during the press conference held at a central hotel.  After recalling “the old days when nobody knew him here” until now when he returns successful (he is recognized everywhere and at present resides in Europe, where he lives with his wife and children), Cura discussed the make-up of the character he has interpreted so many times.

“There are two ways to read Samson, and one of them is wrong.  He can be interpreted as a Christ figure, like a hippy of the 60s.  No.  He belongs to the book of Judges, revolutionary leaders and not good boys.  Samson incites the town to raise weapons, which transforms him into a sort of “Che Guevara” of the age,” he explained. Before that disconcerting parallelism, Cura had been referred to as the heir apparent to the artistic direction of the Teatro Colón.  “I would not accept a future offer for the position, but if they offered me the job of principle guest director, I would say yes,” he affirmed amidst laughter directed at the current artistic director, Marcelo Lombardero, who was in the room.

Besides discussing his approach to the work Samson et Dalila, Cura focused on his role as compose in advance of the 8 July premier in Rosario of his work Sonetos.  Later, in response to the question of his possible return to his country, he said:  “You never know, life has many returns.”



José Cura


19 July 2007

Julieta Mortati

The renown Argentine tenor, currently living in Madrid, is in Buenos Aires for the opera Samson et Dalila in the Teatro Coliseo.  In a chat with Para Ti, he related how he studied music, martial arts, and even gave classes in body building to survive.  He began to sing at the age of 27 because “I discovered that my voice could pay my bills.” He is considered to have one of the best voices in the world for its interpretative quality.  

José Cura in Argentina July 2007José Cura (44) traveled to Argentina to attend the golden anniversary of his parents (the celebration is on Saturday 7 July in Rosario, his hometown).  He is accompanied by his wife, Silvia, and their three children:  José (19), Yazmín (14) and Nicolás (11).  The visit, at first a secret, was quickly divulged and the family plan was subsequently interrupted by five performances of Samson et Dalila (by Camille Saint-Saëns) in the Teatro Coliseo, with the artistic support of the Teatro Colón, and in Rosario with the festival of the 50 years of the Monument to the Flag and a chamber concert in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of  Mozarteum, (8 July) where he will present the world premier of the Sonetos cycle, seven pieces composed for the poetry of Pablo Neruda. In his last week in this country, he walks with bags under his eyes and runny nose.  “On the stage it is cold,” says Cura of the Teatro Coliseo, “And it was not only cold but windy!  Yesterday it was blowing off my shirt and the boys in the chorus were wearing cravats and scarves on stage.  We endured, “but in the end the body just says ‘enough!’.

What does it mean for you to sing in Buenos Aires?

Well, it is not the same thing to sing for your people and your family as it is to sing for those who have your respect because they are your fans but who do not know you, do not know the man on the other side.  When you sing in your country, you know that in the audience are people who knew you as a boy.

In his childhood, Cura learned to play the piano by intuition, watching as his father interpreted Beethoven and Chopin.  Later he studied guitar, composition and piano, and entered the School of Art at the University of Rosario.  By 12 he had already begun to direct choirs and orchestras.  Along the way, he specialized in martial arts and played rugby.  Then at 27 he began to sing.  “Singing appears rather late in my musical career.  I discovered that I had a voice and initially the investment seemed very logical:  with this voice I was going to be able to eat and to give food more easily to my family than with composing.  As crude as that sounds, I started singing for purely economic reasons,” he admits and then explains:  “That which began as a blind date ended in a life-long relationship but in the beginning I believed I was going to sing for only a few years to relieve the situation, to pay the bills and pay for my house.  Finally, it turned into the full-time profession that transformed me into what I am.  There is a thing called destiny…I cannot complain.”

And when things went badly for him, he didn’t complain, either.  In 1983 he wanted to enter the Teatro Colón but a teacher at the audition told him, “You do not sing, you shout.” The he gave classes in tae kwon do, body building, and worked in a hardware store.  In 1990 he took a second audition at the Colón and finally they accepted him, but he decided to leave for Europe.  With his wife—whom he met at 16—and José, his first son, Cura took a Pan Am flight toward Milan.

[NB:  As most of his fans are aware, Mr. Cura was accepted at the Colón in 1983 and rejected in 1990, after which he decided to move to Europe.  The reporter just got the dates mixed up but we wanted to let you know the real story.]


A Stubborn Man

-  I was always very stubborn.  Like young children, each time they get up in the morning it is not important to them what happened the previous day, just that they are going to play again.  I believe I am like that.  I was always convinced I had something to say, I was prepared to say it, and was going to keep on saying it until I finally found someone who would listen to what I had to say and then this person would pass it on to others.  It is being eternally young beyond all mistakes and objections.  It causes one to want to continue forward with the same thing.

In 1995 [editor's note: he won in 1994], Cura won the Operalia singing contest, presided over by Plácido Domingo, and quickly became one of the most prestigious tenors in the world, especially praised for his interpretive qualities.  A year later, he made his début in the role of Samson at the Royal Opera House in London, a role that he continues to perform and for which he received the Orphée d’Or and Echo Klassik awards.

- What is important for you to interpreting Samson et Dalila?

- One of the things in regards to this opera is its use of force.  Some fifteen hundred years before Christ there was killing in the name of God, and 3500 years later, it is the same thing.  Humans still do not have the courage to take responsibilities for their mistakes or their successes.  If we need to kill, the fault is with the other, and if we use God, so much the better because no one can complain or say anything.   

- And personally?

- This opera has a special aura because it has been with me practically throughout my career.  I have it very well done, very well chewed, very studied, and very sung.  The character is the same in all works, the equation is different.  Every performance is like an act of love, a sexual act, and it is the audience who is your partner at this moment.  And you have to ask yourself, “How much do I give to the artist?” The difference between an audience who succumbs to the artist and one that does not is enormous. It is like making love to a plastic doll.

- How do you prepare for your roles?

- The voice functions like the face of a model.  When you are going to do a photography shoot, you have to treat yourself to more sleep so that you have the least ‘wrinkles’ possible.  And on the day of a performance, if a singer tries to rest everything so the voice can be as fresh as possible, that is ideal.

- Why did you decide to live in Europe?

- I like Madrid, we have a most beautiful house where I am able to have all the things I want in my life, achieve all my whims.

- Do you have the tastes of a divo, eccentricities?

- Eccentricities, none.  But, yes, I give myself the things that I want.  I have a wine cellar in my home, with a pile of wine I have collected.  I have a pool, a gymnasium, the things that we have always wanted in the way we like most.

Cura confesses that when he is alone in the house he enjoys silence and he never sings in the shower.  He prefers to shop, to cook, and to taste wine.

- And you also like photography?

- Yes, I love it, and we are now negotiating the release of my first book of photographs with a Swiss publisher.  I like news-photography, not posed photos, and take to the streets with my camera to collect the testimony of the entire world.  I grab hold of my camera and get lost.  I have ended up in some screwed up neighborhoods and more than once have had to be removed from complicated situations.  I love to know the true face of a town.

- Opera is often considered to be of the elite.  Is this something that bothers you?

- It is always spoken of as elite, but anywhere in the world the ticket price to listen to an opera costs less that the cost of tickets to the [sports] field.  For many years there was a tendency:  people who liked classical music wanted to feel exclusive, but that is stupid because the composers wrote the music for everyone.  They were simple people, but not easy people.  They were geniuses because they were simple, and this trend to deify them became fashionable at the beginning of the twentieth century, when these divisions were created for the purpose for with which all divisions are created:  “Divide and you will rule.’ When in fact there is only good music and bad music.  There is boring classical music and brilliant popular music.




He Can't be the Same Man, Can He?


The Independent

Michael Church

12 April 2007

In 1993, José Carreras celebrated his triumph over leukaemia by starring in Verdi's Stiffelio at Covent Garden. Two years later, an unknown singer named José Cura replaced him.

That was Cura's launch: overnight he was awarded a big recording contract, and hailed as the "fourth tenor" and as a new operatic sex symbol, and his meteoric career began. Now he is back in that role: the production is physically the same, but since both he and director Elijah Moshinsky have changed in the intervening time, it will also reflect that.

"Then I was a naive young kid trying to fit into the shoes of a tormented and complicated adult," says Cura. "Now I am closer to that character." Is his voice changing? "A lot. It's getting darker and darker, to a point where some people think it's moving beyond the tenor range. Certain characters I cannot do now, not because I can't [sing the role], but because the colour of the voice wouldn't portray the psychology."

And although he still exudes the lazy pantherish charm that made his first interviewers go down like ninepins, he's taken drastic steps to obliterate that original image. "All that stuff about the sonny-boy sex symbol, those stories about the fourth tenor - it was sending out the wrong signals, and I was getting shot at with the wrong weapons. I grew very unhappy with how I was being sold, so I dismissed my agent and set up my own company to organise my work.

"I'm 44, and I started my career when I was 14 - I've worked very hard to become a serious musician and a finished artist, and now we've cleaned away the garbage. Now I am accepted as serious artist."

He globetrots as a conductor as well as singer, he's staging his own touring production of Pagliacci in Croatia, and he has had a new CD and two DVDs out in the past three months: point made, point taken.

20 April (; 020-7304 4000)




The Artist as a Part of Society

Der Standard



Daniel Elder spoke to José Cura about his conducting, burned-out colleagues and Christmas as folklore.

Christmas in Vienna PRSTANDARD: Mr. Cura, you have different approaches to music. You have studied piano and composition, started conducting at 15 and only much later began to sing.  Is it sometimes difficult to switch between these approaches?

Cura: I do not think that I should switch, but that all of these activities interact. It is very interesting that no one is surprised when an instrumentalist starts to conduct, but everyone is when a singer begins to do so. Unfortunately, a singer has for many years been viewed not as a musician but only as someone is lucky enough to have a voice. Today there are many singers who are real musicians. And as a result, as a singer you presumably have different approaches to phrasing and breathing music.

STANDARD: Is it for different at the opera or at a Christmas Eve proceedings? Do you see any difference between art and event?

Cura: We use these traditional concerts especially to be present in the society. It is one thing to be staying in town as a guest artist and to appear in the concert hall, another to feel as if you are slowly beginning to belong to the people of a country.  To participate in a Christmas celebration has to do with an informal feeling:  the artist becomes part of the society and is not just someone who comes and departs again.  This concert shows this difference.  It is beautiful for an artist to identify himself with many people, not only those who go to the opera, but also those who switch on the television to hear Christmas carols. 

STANDARD: Entertainment as an art, not only for the elite?

Cura: When one says this, it means one thinks just the opposite. Artists are there so that the audience feels good and happy. That means that we artist must return to our roots and ask ourselves what it means to be an artists - a person from the society who is there to maintain the society. If we only look at it as a business, we lose contact with reality. We must do both: I must pay my bills, but must also have the good feeling of being part of a whole, as a doctor, lawyer or journalist, and not just an isolated individual. All this Bullshit about the élite is anachronistic. Sorry, but a normal ticket for the Vienna State Opera is a lot cheaper than a ticket to a football game.

Christmas in Vienna PRSTANDARD: A big issue today is the dangers for young singers who sing too much.

Cura: That was also a danger for me when I started. In many cases, we lose great talent because they burn-out before they go far. In this respect, the music business is very brutal. This is a question of control and it is very difficult because young people are afraid that the dream may end once they say no. I thought to myself today: perhaps those who survive are the stronger, better able to remain on track - a kind of natural selection. But that is very dangerous and also very sad.

 STANDARD: What is Christmas to you?

Cura: I come from a Catholic family, and Christmas is for us an important date. I think today’s celebrations with its strong symbolism is very important. Individualism is strong today, and Christmas is a day on which all at the same time are thinking the same way. We should exploit that and send a message of peace, love, send a dialogue. That is something we have lost today. We no longer speak with each other, but rather send SMS. We are not even talking on the telephone with each other because it means a direct confrontation. If you send someone to hell, you send an SMS. At Christmas at least give all at the same time a kiss. If we succeed in bringing that into everyday life, then this festival means more than mere folklore. We do not need more folklore.

(THE STANDARD 20.12.2007)



José Cura Writes of Love

La Nacion


The tenor premieres his own songs based on poems of Pablo Neruda


Saturday July 7, 2007

José Cura in Argentina, Summer 2007With his performances in Samson et Dalila presented by the Teatro Colón, José Cura gave ample evidence to the Argentine public of why his name is where it is in the world of opera. Nevertheless, and not to lose the habit of being pleasantly surprised, an important moment still remains on his agenda before the tenor returns to Europe.  It is a question this time of the world premiere of his Sonnets, based on the poems of Pablo Neruda, that take place tomorrow in the program for the Mozarteum of Rosario, which is celebrating its Silver Anniversary with a concert by José Cura and pianist Eduardo Delgado in the Foundation Astengo.  The two, acquainted through the CD of Argentine music Anhelo, will offer a chamber recital, including songs from the recording, works for solo piano, and the pieces composed by Cura.

The history of these Sonnets was born in 1995, when José sang in Palermo (Sicily) in the Zandonai opera Francesca di Rimini, based on the legendary lover Romeo and Juliet.  Someone—he never knew who—left a book of Neruda poems in his dressing room with an anonymous dedication that says, “For you, who sing of love, words of love.”   On opening the book, according to the tenor, the first thing he read was the last sonnet that says “When I die, I want you hands on my eyes” and he was so moved by emotion that the music was composed almost at once in a single moment of inspiration.  He continued with “My love, if I should die and you should not” until the commitments and the dizzying life of the singer on the rise forced him to put all the beautiful ideas and sensation in a drawer not to be opened for several years, until, in 2006, the composer firmly decided to finish the project and to choose the sonnets that, he felt, still remained to complete the cycle.  The author of the dedication, very romantically, has never been revealed.

In Buenos Aires, La Nacion met with Cura and Delgado.  The pianist referred to the work as personal music whose harmonies declare a proper and elaborate language.  “They do not look like anything else.  They are interesting works and with their polyphonies and counterpoints, they are also difficult.  It gave me pleasure to work with them because they demanded I study them and because I feel I can relate with José’s musicality,” Delgado explained.

In turn, Cura added comments that referred to the composition of the Sonnets

-Are they composed for your own voice?

They are written for a high baritone because I consider the voice of a baritone the most beautiful one for chamber music, as in that of the mezzo for a woman.  The middle zone is where the voice flows more sweet and less forced.  This reflects my own vocals:  a dark voice with the ability to sing high notes.  It is not possible to sing them like normal songs.  They are intellectual, which means they cannot be learned by hearing them, it is necessary to be able to read and to understand in depth the music that, in reality, is a long duet of piano and song. 

- How did you transfer the musicality of the word to that of the singing voice?

-The poetry of Neruda awaken the senses, is theatrical in an old-fashioned way.  Each word is loaded with theater and drama. The options were to write melody accompany the words or to write music, but with the sensory wealth that opens us up to Neruda’s fascinating world. The complexity of the music is related to that of the text, so that it is not necessary to listen to distill pure melody.  One must concentrate in the poems, leaving the melody to present itself alone.



NDO is privileged to have as its Patron, internationally renowned tenor and conductor José Cura. Maestro Cura, originally from Argentina and now based in Madrid, has a deep interest in finding ways to help younger singers gain experience and so help further their careers.

This is a unique opportunity for music lovers from Devon and the UK, to enjoy the passion, commitment and artistry that Maestro Cura brings to everything he does. In addition to the Masterclass, there will be a garden party Concert performance of opera arias and ensembles given by all twelve singers in the afternoon of May 7th; Maestro Cura will then present the prize. On the morning of May 6th, Anthony Legge (Director of Opera at the Royal Academy of Music) and Alex Ingram, conductor and music coach, will be bringing their expertise in working with opera accompanists to a Repetiteurs' Seminar. Devon singers will have an opportunity to take part in this seminar.

The performances will be held in the charming Jubilee Hall of Stover– an independent school set in its own 60 acres of beautiful grounds in the glorious Devon countryside. Stover is situated on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park, just a few miles west of the market town of Newton Abbot and a mile from the main A38 carriageway between Exeter and Plymouth.


“I truly hope that New Devon Opera enjoys economic success which will allow the company to develop in a strong and confident way. "  José Cura


Opportunities in the UK to see or hear international opera singer and conductor, José Cura, are rare but on  6 May 2007, Maestro Cura will come to Devon to give a public Masterclass with twelve talented singers he has chosen – and who will represent some of the best of today's young opera singers.

A compelling actor and charismatic stage performer, Cura has been featured in numerous telecasts of opera productions and concerts from venues around the world. Blessed with a rich burnished tenor voice, mesmerizing stage presence and abundant charm, José Cura has been thrilling audiences since he first burst onto the international music scene. His intelligent, insightful – sometimes controversial, but always intense and unforgettable performances - have made him a household name to opera lovers the world over.

 But this success did not come easily. As Cura himself puts it:

“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 a lot of people wouldn't 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!”

 It is this memory that drives his desire to help promising singers to gain the skills and experience needed to succeed in the notoriously tough and challenging world of international opera. Working together with New Devon Opera – the south west's resident professional opera company, of which he is Patron – the aim is to build this project to become a regular national event in Devon.

 This is a unique opportunity for music lovers from Devon and the UK, to enjoy the passion, commitment and artistry that Maestro Cura brings to everything he does. In addition to the Masterclass, the re will be a garden party Concert performance of opera arias and ensembles given by all twelve singers in the afternoon of May 7th; and, Maestro Cura will present a prize. On the morning of May 6th, Anthony Legge (Director of Opera at the Royal Academy of Music) and Alex Ingram, conductor and music coach, will be bringing their expertise in working with opera accompanists to a Repetiteurs' Seminar. Devon singers will have an opportunity to take part in this seminar.

 The performances will be held in the charming Jubilee Hall of Stover– an independent school set in its own 60 acres of beautiful grounds in the glorious Devon countryside. Stover is situated on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park, just a few miles west of the market town of Newton Abbot and a mile from the main A38 carriageway between Exeter and Plymouth

An international star, José Cura has received many awards and prizes for artistic excellence. In 1994, he was awarded first place at the International Singers Competition (Operalia) as well as the Prize of the Public; in 1997 he was awarded the Abbiati Award (Italian critics' prize) for his performances in two Mascagni operas - “Iris” in Rome and “Cavalleria Rusticana” with the Ravenna Festival- and in “Il Corsaro” in Turin. A year later, he earned the Orphée d'Or from Académie du Disque Lyrique. In 1999, the Buenos Aires ' CAECE University awarded him the distinction of “Professor Honoris Causae” and the city of Rosario the one of “Citizen of Honour.” He received the ECHO award for Sänger des Jahres from the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis in 2000.

In 2000, Cura was knighted “Chevalier de l'Ordre du Cedre” by the Lebanese Government.

Cura was honored as the Best Artist of the Year from Grup de Liceistes in Barcelona in 2001, received the Ewa Czeszejko - Sochacka Foundation Award (Poland) in 2002, and the Sirmione Catullus Prize honoring him as one of the great singers of opera in 2003. In recognition of his artistry and in acknowledgement of the great affection and high esteem in which he is held in the country, José Cura was awarded “Citizen of Honour” by the City of Vesprem, Hungary, in August, 2004.

Year 2005 proved a banner year for José Cura.  In November, The British Youth Opera (BYO) announced that he had accepted the position of honorary Vice President of the company.  This appointment, made in recognition of Cura's dedication to teaching, mentoring, and supporting young talent, adds his name to a distinguished list of benefactors including such luminaries as Dame Janet Baker, Dame Felicity Lott, and Bryn Terfel.   Cura also became Patron of New Devon Opera.  The company, established to promote and tour opera within Devon and the South West of England, is a non-profit organization that promotes charitable and educational productions and concerts. 

In December 2005, Cura became the second recipient of the City of Piacenza-Giuseppi Verdi award in recognition of his contribution to classical music as both singer and conductor.  The award, individually designed to honor the winner, is given annually to an artist of international significance who has inspired critical approval and audience affection.  That Cura receives the recognition so soon after its establishment is tribute to his reputation as one of the greatest tenors of the age, his artistry on the podium, his warm relationship with fans, his personal support of young musicians and his on-going involvement in charitable organizations.


Learning from a Maestro

By Laura Joint

World famous tenor José Cura comes to Devon to hold a masterclass with 12 lucky singers.

Internationally renowned opera star José Cura will be in Devon in May, to hold a masterclass with 12 singers.

The Argentinian-born tenor, now based in Madrid, agreed to take the classes after becoming patron of professional touring company, New Devon Opera.  The opera company, based in South Devon, publicised the project in 2006 - and more than 100 singers from all over the world have applied to be selected.

That number will be whittled down to around 25 for auditions in London on 24-26 April. José Cura will then choose the final 12 who will be in the masterclass in Devon on 6-7 May.

It's hoped the José Cura Opera Project will unearth a new generation of opera stars.

The public will be able to watch the classes at Jubilee Hall, Stover School, near Newton Abbot on 6 May. Then, on 7 May, the 12 will perform mainly ensemble pieces at Stover School - in front of an audience including the Maestro himself.

The tenor will present the singer who impresses him the most with a special prize.

José Cura is in England in April and May, as he is performing in the Verdi opera, Stiffelio, at the Royal Opera House in London.

Linda Hughes, chair of New Devon Opera, says it's a real coup to bring José Cura to the county.

"This really puts Devon on the map," Linda told BBC Devon. "People from all over the world have taken an interest in this." 

Linda hopes that the event can be repeated in the future - but on an even bigger scale. New Devon Opera was formed in 2004 and auditions for performers locally and nationally. It is a not-for-profit charity.

In a classic case of 'if you don't ask, you don't get,' Linda approached José Cura about the role of patron.

"I was speaking to him at the Royal Opera House and I asked him. And he said yes!".



Debut of José Cura as Stage Director

El Universal
Thursday December 27, 2007


The Argentine tenor will direct Verdi’s Masked Ball next 17 May in the German city of Cologne   


Argentine tenor and conductor José Cura has decided to explore new artistic horizons and will try his luck as a stage director—but without abandoning singing for the simple reason that “singing pays my bills.”

"As a director I am a novice and therefore not paid well. In fact, my actual pay as director for the entire production is more or less what I earn as a tenor in a single evening," revealed Cura in an interview with the magazine "Opernglas."

Cura, living for years in Spain, makes his debut as director on 17 May in Cologne (western German), and the production chosen for this initial effort is the opera Un ballo in maschera (A masked ball) by Giuseppe Verdi.

“Germany is an ideal place for any producer, because the public here is more open-minded than almost anywhere else,” maintains Cura, who nevertheless feels comforted that “my big challenge as director is to achieve a balance between modernity and tradition.”

The musician considers this experience as “one more step in my career, just as many actors, after years of experience, decide they want to be on the other side of the camera,” but he insists that not only will he not abandon his role of singer but he will also expand his repertoire.

Among Cura’s future plans is Parsifal by Richard Wagner, an opera he will sing in concert version in 2010 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin that offers a major new challenge for the tenor--and not just because, in this case, he must sing in German.

 Article - El Universal EFE - Cura debus as stage director




José Cura’s Debut as a Director

Der Standard

 27 December 2007


Hamburg - The Argentine star tenor and conductor José Cura now tries being an opera director. On 17 May 2008, the 45-year-old will make his directorial debut at the Cologne Opera with Verdi's "Masked Ball."  

"Of course, Germany is a wonderful place for directors, as the audience here is really much more open than elsewhere," said Cura in an interview with the magazine "Das Opernglas." However, this also serves as an excuse for the director who ignores the balance between modernity and tradition: "That is for me the big challenge."

Acting Interests

Acting is of special interest to him, said the world-renowned singer. "Directing is just the next step - similar to the famous movie actors who, after years of experience with good directors, change sides. In cinema it seems much more common and accepted than in musical theater."

His main focus will continue on the singing, assures Cura. "For a very simple reason: With the singing I pay my bills." As a director he is a novice and is paid accordingly. "My current job as a director - for the entire production - corresponds more or less to what I earn as a tenor in one evening."

In the future the singer will challenge himself with Wagner roles. In 2010, he will sing “Parsifal” in concert at the Deutsche Opera. "This is my first step to see how it goes." Wagner excites him on the one hand, but frightens him on the other because of the language. (APA / dpa)



“The flag is our identity: It is not the DNI* but the DNA of each one of us.”

 La Capital

June 2007

José Cura says that singing at the Anniversary Celebration of the Monument was something very special. The tenor from Rosario, who now lives in Europe, admitted that he felt flattered by the call.

Rosario opera singer José Cura joined in the festivities marking the 50th anniversary of the National Monument to the Flag with a rendition of the “Canción a la bandera”, which is an aria from Héctor Panizza’s opera “Aurora”. Visibly moved, the tenor, who lives in Europe where he has forged a solid career for himself, talked with La Capital, confirming the saying that your homeland is in essence your dialog with the land of your childhood: “When I close my eyes, the first thing I see is my childhood home, the neighborhood of those early years”, the artist confessed.


Applauded by the critics for his interpretations of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Otello” and Saint-Saens’ “Samson”, Cura is also recognized for being the first artist to have sung and conducted the same work simultaneously as well as being the first to combine vocal with symphonic performances in the same concert.


Emphatic, commanding and loquacious, Cura steps for a moment out of his role of operatic artist with international stature and enters onto the path of confession admitting that to sing under the circumstance that brought him here is somewhat different.


--What does it mean to you to sing at the Flag Monument?


--To sing the “Canción a la bandera” at the Monument is a bit overwhelming. It’s not an ordinary concert; it’s about this place, this particular spot and the song of it. There can be nothing any more intense than that.


--Does this place bring back memories for you?


--It’s not only about memories but also about a sense of identity. The Flag Monument is number one in what one identifies with as a Rosarino. Perhaps number two is Newell’s and Central….After having sung “Canción a la Bandera” in England, in Japan and in Australia, it is something else altogether to sing it here.


--What does the flag mean to an exile?


--No, not an exile because that implies a person who leaves with a kick in the backside, so to speak. This man is not an exile but an emigrant. Just as our grandparents came here from far away in search of good fortune, many of us left from here to go far off in search of ours. And the flag is a means of identification, it’s our identity, and it isn’t even just the DNI—it’s the DNA of each one of us.


--Eight years ago, you sang in this very spot before a crowd, and we were not able to find out what kind of aftertaste that experience left. What happened on that occasion?


--We were expecting 5,000 people and 40,000 came. It was an extraordinary event, full of warmth and affection. It’s a tremendous memory.


--When you close your eyes and think of Rosario, what do you see?


--The first thing I’m likely to see when I close my eyes is my childhood home and the neighborhood of those early years. It’s a place that has changed very much. Clearly, thirty years have passed….


--The reason for this visit to Argentina is the presentation of other programs, like those you are going to give with the cast from the Colón at the Coliseo of Buenos Aires Theater.…


--No. The initial reason for this visit was the celebration of my parents’ fifty years of marriage, an anniversary that coincides with that of the Monument. Later, it became known that I was coming since it is practically out of a question that no one is going to find out when one moves about, and from there, the invitations began to arrive. In this case, they are especially appreciated because taking part in this celebration is something special. Afterwards the one from the Colón came up and the concert in the Mozarteum here. In the end, I’m working more during this vacation than I do when I’m at home.


--What has been going on with your “Aurora” CD?


--That was a disc dedicated to my country which, to be precise, does begin with the “Canción a la Bandera”. I recorded that CD in 2001 and dedicated it to Argentina, but it was never sold in the country. We are not managing to set up agreements with any distributor. It was a CD dedicated to this country and sold throughout the world, but here, it’s sad to say, no one knows about it. To mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Monument, the City of Rosario has entered into an agreement with my company to buy 5,000 discs at cost. We are not making anything, but at least, in a symbolic way, it will be found at this commemoration, when it should have been here all along and should have sold thousands of copies simply because it is dedicated to Argentina, regardless of whether the artist, who made it, is liked or not. When a disc is dedicated to a country, it is (really) dedicated to its people. Dedicated to my fellow Argentineans, it is a CD to which they have no access. Market considerations take precedence over sentimental ones. Let’s hope that 5,000 copies are not enough.


*DNI-Documento Nacional de Identidad 

Translation: Monica B.




A Conversation with José Cura

Entre Notas

María Josefina Bertossi

When José Cura came down punctually to the lobby to give us his final interview before returning to Europe, I thought it was gracious of him not to have canceled after the effort of the previous night’s concert when he sang while suffering from an untimely cold (for a singer, a cold is always untimely).  Besides, it was a very cold 9 July (Rosarinos hardly remember when it was really cold) and many expected snow. I will never forget when it snowed in Rosario a few days before my entire family was involved in a car accident and we saw the snow on the windows of the hospital, recalled the Rosarino musician (singer, director, composer) who now lives in Madrid but works in capital cities around the world.

“Have you ever tried to pick a flower with a glove?” was the first thing we heard from José Cura from the stage.  The opening question was an attempt to explain how it feels for a musician to sing with a cold and, in addition, to share the recital and the respiratory affliction with the pianist, Rosarino Eduardo Delgado, also ill with a cold.

The audience filled the auditorium of the Teatro Fundación for the concert on 8 July, the main event of the 25th anniversary of the Mozarteum of Rosario, which had been announced as a program of chamber music, a difficult assignment considering the health (of the artists) since this repertoire needs vocal subtleties, but we can attest that the artist carried it off with experience that comes from the position, interspersed with enjoyable and sincere comments.

“Last night I took a beating and this morning I rose voiceless.  Anyone who isn’t in this career has no idea of the significance of singing with bronchitis.  I did well and believe those who saw it liked it,” Cura said with satisfaction.

There were those who hoped you would sing opera even though chamber music had been announced.

The program said chamber music.  I would love to do all of my concerts this way. I do not enjoy singing arias in concerts because opera in concert is monastic and the audience always expects me to sing the same thing.  Besides, opera cannot be done with just a piano and for a concert as important as this anniversary it had to be a chamber concert with piano.

The auditorium of a theater can be a good thermometer to measure the relationship between an artist and the public, and it is there that we listened as some talked about this singer.  José Cura is the full name of an international artist, but those who knew him in Rosario, in Fisherton, and from childhood they have called him what they always called him:  José Luis.

José was designated by the exigencies of the program space because José Luis is too long.  Only in Rosario do they call my José Luis.

The concert represented the world-wide release of Sonetos, a work based on the verses of Pablo Neruda with music by José Cura.   The composer explained that once in a dressing room somebody left him a book of poems by Neruda, which he fortuitously opened to the page of the sonnet that begins “When I die, I want your hands on my eyes.” 

The premiere was not assured, however, since authorization from the heirs of the Chilean poet arrived only four days earlier.

Here in Rosario we saw you and we listened to a singer, composer and director.  How difficult is it on the international level to impose the role of director and composer on the figure known as a singer?

I never impose it.  I propose.  Those who like the proposal accept it, those who do not, don’t.  I conduct a lot and in very important locales such as the Vienna Opera and when you direct the Wiener, you conduct one of the significant orchestras in the world, the same is true in London with the London Symphony.   There is never this sort of question because when one stands in front of the orchestra for the first three minutes the musicians see the tenor but then no longer, because to move forward without a professional musician [standing on the podium] would not be possible.  The preconception comes from the press, which does not understand and uses tenor as a bad word.  To say someone is a tenor is like saying that she is a woman rather than a feminist, like referring to a stupid individual with no rights.

The buzz surrounding the concert was the announcement of the ‘music’ of José Cura.

Because of it, the highest points in the entire night were the sonnets, twenty minutes of music of very strong intensity and that says a lot.  When you write something people have not felt, makes no sense to them, they start fidgeting and begin coughing.  Therefore, it was very emotional, and one must not forget this was a premier, that while the audience was listening, and it is complicated [music], they were already analyzing it and enjoying it.  There was a lot of work (in composing), hard work with theatrical awareness.  Every harmony and every melodic turn tried to continue the poetry of Neruda.

In our city, there is a lot of music and many musicians who feel dissatisfied with what they can and cannot do.

There is something everyone needs to know:  nobody comes to seek you out, and this is true not only in Rosario or in Argentina:  it is that way in the world.  Youth has a tendency to say ‘I am the best in the world but no one knows it.’  I know many cases like that, both colleagues and students, who come to me and say ‘Maestro, what do I have to do?’ and I tell them they must go out and bang on doors, and they say to me ‘But what happened that made you so lucky?’   Luck?  I have spent more than thirty years doing this and only in the last ten or fifteen years have I begun to see the fruit.  Recently, in the last five years of my life, I have been transformed by an event that is very easy to obtain—the event of maturing.

Sometimes, someone will ask me how it feels to be famous and I say nothing at all, because it is so easy to become famous.  Nowadays, with the mass media, being a celebrity is almost free.  The difference is to achieve the sort of fame that is transformed into greatness.

Sometimes the decision to leave or to stay can be very difficult.

Emigration is always difficult.  Even though now it is easier for us than for our grandparents, that does not stop it from being traumatic.  When you move to a country where nobody greets you, nobody knows you, and when you present your work visa they look at you badly simply because you are Argentine or because you are a foreigner, and there is nothing you do to avoid it, and that it what happened to my wife and me.  There were many people who told me not to leave but if I had a contract I would not have gone.   For example, in Buenos Aires some singers asked me how they were singing and I said good.  “Well, then, if you have a contract you can send it to me.” No, it doesn’t work like that. 

The concert ended with “Aurora” by Hector Panizza, the same aria that was sung together with the audience at the Monument to the Flag, the same one which he also occasionally surprises the English audiences.  Despite the respiratory problem that appeared in the last note of the aria, when the audience asked one more from him, Cura , with humility, agreed to one last one.

You have a work dedicated to the Malvinas.  What has happened to it has not be produce?

I knocked on two or three doors and they were not opened, nobody seemed interested in it.  Perhaps it was not the moment.  When I wrote it in 1984, I was 22 years old and we were entering a democracy.  It is a work for two choirs, with the dream being there would be an Argentine choir and an English choir, quartet soloist, a children’s choir, an orchestra—a very big, very expensive work.  I wrote it in ’84 and there it remains, and if some day I decide to do it perhaps I will have to revise it, because many years have passed and with them a lot of experience has been gained, or maybe not, because perhaps it would be nice to show what a boy of 21 wrote at that age.


Interval Drink with José Cura

Classic FM

Sarah Kirkup

May 2007

What are you drinking?
A Spanish red wine from my beautiful cellar!

You're the patron of New Devon Opera...
The point of the project is to create an operatic activity in Devon. We have auditions this April and, depending on the quality of the singers we get, we'll see how far we can go.

Why do you want to help?
I believe in the continuation of the human species! Also, I am known for being a rebel, and it would be ridiculous to have fought all your life to transmit your opinions and then to die without leaving your legacy.

You're in Stiffelio at Covent Garden from 20th April...
With Stiffelio, I am allowed to be a dark character, and I like that. The one-dimensional thinking of most tenor roles is exhausting - it's so limiting having to behave like the beautiful lover all the time!

Acting's important to you...
You have to be believable. The best compliment I had was at the end of Otello, when an epileptic came up to me and said: "I saw myself in you". I had studied for a long time the reactions of epileptics; the ability to observe has to be the main quality of any actor, I think.

You conduct as well...
Singers respond well to me as a conductor because if there's anyone who knows what the hell they're going through, it's me. I conduct and sing at the same time, but only encores; a whole concert would be a killer!

What's your next ambition?
I'd love to sing under the baton of Simon Rattle. I like his fresh approach to music.



José Cura:  Titan of the Opera

Le Nueva

He has just arrived in the country to dazzle us with his talent.  This Argentine tenor, who has already triumphed in Europe, will sing today in Rosario.  

 [gist translation]

José Cura is one of the tenors in greatest demand on the international stage and also one of the most popular figures in classical music, but he does not agree with such high praise. His is a multifaceted talent (singer, conductor, composer, guitarist, régisseur and businessman), impelled by a spirit always eager for creativity and challenges, leading him on a journey toward artistic satisfaction.  Always on the edge of frenzy from this fascinating life, Cura’s temperament seems to have been forged to enjoy facing risks, as a real titan, and not in vain has it been written that his is one of the greatest voices of the century.  For all that, and in spite of his youth, José Cura has already joined Olympus as one of the mythical singers [sacred monsters] of the 21st century.  

An anticipated return home

He returned to Argentina, like one of our more prodigal sons, for a concert production of the opera Samson et Dalila by Teatro Colon, but most of all to his audience, to their affection, and to his family.  “After 16 years in Europe, my house, in a physical sense, is no longer in Argentina.  But my feelings, my memories and my most intimate experiences, these will always continue to remain in my country.  I am happy to return and meet again with the people with whom I grew up in an artistic sense.  I want to see the countrymen with whom I was lucky enough to share the ‘kindergarten’ of the stage,” recounted José in a talk in Berlin, Germany, not long before he returned home. And then, as it could not otherwise be, speaking of reunions inevitably means speaking of memories and the conversation, with Cura showing a less familiar side, could not help but begin with his beloved hometown, Rosario.

Memories of Rosario

“The oldest images I retain of Rosario,” he recalls, “are the first two or three days of primary school.  I do not know if that was in the LaSalle or San José School, because after three days my parents withdrew me to enroll me into a new school, one that had just opened by the brothers of Saint Patrick of Ireland.  We were the first class.  There were barely two rooms and a patio.  My class was also the first class to graduate.  Today it is a great school, one of the biggest in Rosario. The last time I was in Argentina, in 1999, I visited the school, I met with the students and I encountered a couple of my former companions.  So there is where I begin my memories of Rosario, in the little school of St Patrick. In reality so many years have passed…and it is only now when I return that I perceive this passing of time.”  The imaginary route soon pass by his old house near the river and the second one in the first residential district of Rosario.  Almost immediately, and understanding the strong connection that joins them, music arrived and, of course, with it the beginning of the history whose future chapters would cause him to do nothing less than conquer the world.  “Music always formed part of my family.  My father played piano well enough.  I have a very clear image of when, as a boy, I watched him, seated at the piano, playing Chopin and Liszt.  Then he tried to imprint on me his own story as a boy, sending me to study piano with a teacher in the neighborhood.  But the initiative did not work.”  After a few months, the teacher dismissed his young student with a brief note sent to his parents, in which he explained, sadly, that it would be best to wait for a time when an interest [in music] developed in José that had, to that moment, not been demonstrated, and at the same time he recommended looking for a hobby that appealed to the young man, because musical sensitivity did not seem strong in him.  “It was probably true at that time, and the best example was that, from that moment, I began to devote myself to rugby.” 

Musical Beginnings

But when did he discover his extraordinary vocation in music and what was that cause that permanently awoke his sensibilities?  Oddly and without warning, that event was the result of an examination to enter secondary school.  “I was there with one of my best friends.  He played his guitar, the Beatles were fashionable, and he created a lot of interest.  I learned to play immediately and the experience awoke the calling that had been sleeping within me.”  This was the friend who gave him his first set of tools.  Soon, his father contacted Ernesto Bitteti (an old family friend), and Bitteti recommended a professor with whom to study seriously.  That began the history with the guitar.  “With my exuberant and extroverted personality, I was like a time bomb.  I learned to play well enough, although always somewhat hampered by my very large hands…the things were causing me quite a lot of work but I managed to have good results.  The guitar, though, very quickly made me feel small, not in a technical sense but in the fact of it being a very introverted instrument.  For that reason, I entered the Conservatory in Rosario to study conducting and composition.” 

One of his teachers—who at the time was the director of the conservatory—gave him the advice that changed his life forever:  “His comment determined who I am today.  He said to me: To become a better conductor and composer, you will have to study singing.’  Indeed, following his advice I began singing opera and ended up becoming a singer.”  Everything that happened after that is more or less well-known history; in 1983 he auditioned for the Teatro Colon, in 1991 he left for Europe, where success and fame waited for him with open arms and rewarded him for years of sacrifice in pursuit of his dream.

Today, and for some time, José Cura has been one of the biggest names on the international music scene.  He is an exceptional professional who believes art is a profound path in life.

“One of the characteristics of classical music is that it is one of the few forms of art that remains, between one person and another, a single thing:  to the work of art itself. We interpret that work live, without networks and without lies.  That artisan concept is probably the most important aspect of music and, in my opinion, why it continues to work, although as a spectacle it may be a little anachronistic.  It is an art of skin and bone, fact with flood, sweat and tears, and for that reason it is an expression that stays alive. It is my hope that all people, at least once in their lives, are touched by this sensation, so powerful and so extraordinary.”

Love of Cerulean Blue and White

In one of his latest disks, called Aurora, José Cura included a special dedication to ‘his country’ and printed the Argentine flag on the cover.  After launch of that record (2002) Cura said, “I want my people to know that, for the entire world and with much pride, José Cura is an Argentine tenor.” 





Interview with José Cura

LaPorta Clássica

Ofèlia Roca



Ofèlia Roca:  What is the daily life of an opera singer like?

José Cura:  Pretty much that of any other person, I imagine.  However, since I am a very atypical case, I cannot offer a very reliable opinion. Perhaps a singer who dedicates himself only to opera has a more orderly life, more aseptic in the sense that he can take better care of himself.  Personally, since I devote myself to many things such as conducting orchestras, composing, and running my company, my life is quite complicated. Last night there was a late performance so today I could have slept until noon, but now I am on my way to Madrid because I have to check a few contracts and I have a few work meetings to discuss projects that we will be doing soon.  If the day had 29 hours it would not be enough for me.  This is a question you have to ask of an opera singer. . .  (laughs)

OR:  But you are an opera singer! Is there any negative part of your work?

José Cura:  All work has its negative aspects.  In mine, for example, the daring of wanting to be yourself, to create, to give your own reading to a character is little tolerated.  For the peace of mind of many…you have to be like this or that earlier artist whom the audience liked.  It is quite a strange thing to handle objectively.  One of the critics of Andrea Chénier said that Cura’s Andrea Chénier is very his, very Cura, and I said to myself:  Can I imagine this is positive?  No?

OR:  Yes, it is!

José Cura:  Although I do not know if it were written in a positive spirit, it is for me, and very much so.  If they wrote that Cura’s Andrea Chénier was very Domingo or very Carrerras, it would be bad for me because I would not have created anything new and bad for Plácido and José because to avoid risks I would have been copying them. I believe that there is a big part of the opera theater that still needs to make settlement with the respect to the passage of time.  The ordinary public does not want to go to the theater to see acts of 40 years ago. Vebal actors who do that would seem like terrible professionals.  If we asked singers to sing like Caruso, it would be like asking actors to act like Sara Bernhardt.  We would surely laugh since they were of other times and what was then brilliant is today comical. […]  To answer the question, I make a living from a beautiful profession. This makes it almost ‘forgettable’ that negative forces always exist.  

OR:  They call you the singing conductor.  Which passion began earlier?

José Cura:  It is not a question of passion, if not profession.  Being passionate is very nice but it often makes you lose objectivity:  hot heart and cold mind, that is the key to survival.  Conducting the orchestra is the profession I have lived with the longest.

OR:  Before singing?

José Cura:  I trained as a conductor and a composer.  The first time I stepped on the podium I was 15 years old.  On the other hand, the first time I sang as a profession, with a seriously paid contract, I was 28 or 29 years old.

OR:  So you began to study singing as a result of being a conductor.

José Cura:  Yes, as a complement to a conducting career, as well as studying other instruments.  I began to sing in semi-professional choirs without a defined vocal technique.  When I finally began to practice and discovered I had a good voice (laughs) I said to myself:  walk, look where!

OR:  When you sing, do you think as a conductor and do you conduct as if you were singing?

José Cura:  When I conduct, I phrase as a singer.  I believe a singer is lucky to be both the instrument and the instrumentalist.  Great ‘phrasing’ by an instrumentalist does not stop because an instrument is outside the body. The singer, however, expresses with his body and it is a privilege and if you manage to pass it on to the musicians in front of you it does make a big difference in the final result.

OR:  Talk to us about the character of Andrea Chénier that you have been performing since the beginning of your career and the difficulties that the tenor who sings this role must endure.   

José Cura:  It has enormous vocal difficulties, because it is a role that is quite badly written. Giordano was a great melodist; in fact, what is surprising in Andrea Chénier is that it is exactly that: to pick through these incredible melodies, unfortunately, for moments of great inspiration.  When the melody is not the main thing, Giordano fell down a little on compositional structure. Perhaps for that reason he is not considered at the genius level of Verdi or Puccini.  His melodies are sometimes so surprising that they can make more of an impression than Verdi or Puccini, but just a little bit gets into it and this makes interpretation very difficult. There are moments when the work works by itself and others when it has to be elevated by the stage work and through interpretation.  Sometimes I have the impression that Giordano reasoned more like an instrumentalist than a singer;  for that reason some of his lines are ‘very instrumental’ in his tessituras and extensions with the difficulties that the singer must endure.  They say that when Giordano went to see the premier, he said when leaving:  My God, what I have written. But it cannot be sung!  As a result, I will go so far as to annotate the score to cut some piece or to lower a tone if necessary.  But if this happens in a work from the repertoire like Andrea Chénier, you cannot even imagine what is like to sing a rare opera of Giordano like Siberia.  The main scene for the tenor (I can assure you of this because I have recorded it) is a killer.  I do not even want to think of what it must be to sing the entire opera.  For a while, Fedora was done often because Domingo and Carreras sang it a lot, and I even did many performances of Fedora but I stopped doing it.  Almost exclusively, any Giordano that is done is Andrea Chenier

OR:  The Liceu has not done it since season 1985-1986

José Cura:  It is not done often, as we were saying it is vocally very difficult and not many singers have it in their repertoire. The part of the baritone is the best of the work, the most interesting dramatically speaking, because is has various colors and evolves with the character throughout the opera.  Maddalena, however, is a more ordinary lírico-spinto soprano role, in the sense that it does not have big vocal stumbling blocks—no more than other operas of the genre, I mean—with a big aria that is very famous for being music in the movie Philadelphia.  The tenor is tremendous from the vocal point of view and perhaps for that reason this work is performed so rarely.  Although the Liceu has a number of performances there are three different casts, all three are excellent. Well, speaking about the tenor, my contribution is a little less good than the others….

OR:  It does not seem that way to me!  All the roles that you interpret must contribute something to your person, since you put yourself into its skin and psychology.  Is there some you appreciate more for some reason?

José Cura:  Most of the characters I portray are horrific human beings: if one is not a traitor (like Otello), then he is a degenerate (like Pinkerton) or one who sells out (like Radamés) or is a violent drunk (like Canio);  these I do not identify with….Perhaps the two roles that I do identify with, from the point of view of personality, are Andrea Chénier and Mario Cavaradossi:  two similar characters who stand up to defend [what he believes in] and die because of it.  The histories look alike, the formal structures of the two operas (Chénier and Tosca) are very similar as well:  the location of the arias, the context of the duets, are practically identical. The arias E lucevan le stelle and Come un bel dì di maggio are siblings…but although Come un bel dì di maggio is the ‘older’ one because Andrea Chénier precedes Tosca by four years, Tosca is the seamless masterpiece that Andrea Chénier is not.  Chénier and Cavaradossi are two positive characters in the human sense because they die for what they believe.  Perhaps for this reason I identify with them.  Although without any desire to die in a literal sense, you die every time you go on stage to do what you must do, asserting your right to be ‘yourself.’   And just as in Chénier the guillotine seals the death of the poet, at the end of a performance the sound of approval by the audience is, by analogy, the guillotine that could make the difference…this sword of Damocles is perhaps one of the most critical moments for an artist.  The theater is not a football pitch to release frustrations but a meeting place for the exchange of cultural messages.  If you do not like it, it is not necessary to whistle at the end, it is enough to be silent or, if you know beforehand how it goes (because you know-and do not like—the artists or because the production was promoted properly) simply don’t come.  So many of the people who whistle then come to ask for autographs…there is a lot of sickness!

OR:  Do you have any new roles in your repertoire?

José Cura:  I am already studying Le Cid by Massenet. Yesterday I started to get into the libretto and was going out to look for material, taking advantage of the fact that Spain is where most of the documents about this legendary person abound.

OR:  Do you study the time and history of the operas in which you sing?

José Cura:  Yes, when they are operas with storylines and personnel whose historical connotation can influence interpretation. 

OR:  Have you ever tackled a musical project that was a true challenge?

José Cura:   All, because the moment you come on the stage is always a challenge, you are always being tested.  Young singers say it is very hard to begin auditioning for a role.  Compare that to the pressure of having to ‘audition’ every time you walk on stage, not only for a single person but rather for a thousand or more, that one ends up being a walk….

OR:  How do you see the present opera world and what do you think will be its future?

José Cura:  Opera is currently in a great crisis.  But it is not a crisis of voices.  It is evident that there are no voices like before, there are voices of those now: better for a thousand reasons and worse for many others, as it has always been.  The future of opera will happen, I believe, when the artists and the public decide once and for all to put opera in that revolution which has already taken place in the spoken theater years ago. You have to break the pose, the mannerism.  To take the opera house into a new interpretive dimension.  To analyze the characters and make them live, no only from a historical point of view, but also in light of the current social conflict:  one example that I often give is that whether we like it or not, we can not interpret Otello any longer as we did 50 years ago.  Not even as we did ten years ago.  The interpretation of the emblematic character changed since 11 September 2001, a day that marks the beginning of the current crisis of fundamentalism, not just for Muslims, but also for the West.  We need to reread operas in the light of the context in which we are living.  The new generations are changing and struggling with risk—before leaving the stage you never know if this is the night someone will whistle—because any change involves risk and that means not everyone will be pleased.  Nevertheless, if we do not start to change, once this current generation of audience passes we will have to close the theaters.  The new generation of young audience reason with a different mentality: these are the children of film, of computer technologies so that when they approach an opera they find it such an artistic anachronism that they are no longer enticed to return.  A theater without an audience is a theater closed. 



La Commedia e' Finita


Novi List

Svjetlana Hribar

 4 June 2007

Why opera and ballet together?

Pagliacci is a short opera and, to avoid doing it with another short piece, we decided to go for something different, to try a new experiment. From the beginning the idea was to have a sort of Hamlet-like situation where first the toys (puppets) perform the comedy and then the real actors perform the comedy.

First I wanted to do the pantomime on Pagliacci’s music, making a special arrangement for the pantomime, but it was too serious and the toys were not appropriate for this kind of music. Then, we decided to use Respighi and Rossini because the music is very light and, in that sense, the moment where the toys are dancing the pantomime is more innocent: toys are really dancing and then they discover the human feelings of love and hate, become real human beings and the music becomes realistic and dramatic.

Why Pagliacci? Was there any special reason to do that?

The organizers of “The Rijeka Summer Nights" offered it to me. They asked me if I wanted to do it and I immediately starting to develop the dramaturgy. Instead of only one hour and ten minutes of music this version has two hours of music with the same leitmotiv as Pagliacci.

Why did you decide to perform in Rijeka again?

Last year's concert was a great success. I came in, did the rehearsal and the concert and left. This year I have the opportunity to stay a bit longer and meet the people and the city they live in as well as the ensemble I am going to work with again.

What do you think about the orchestra?

The company, the orchestra and the choir are very professional, all the technicians are always doing their best, and sometimes they stay late or come early. We are functioning as real company, because we are all together working to accomplish a common goal. All of that you can see and feel in Pagliacci, it is a company of clowns working together.

Is this yours first time as director?

I have already done some little pieces but this is the first time I am directing a complete opera, a complete show that, on top, is not only an opera but a whole concept which I have created from the start. At the beginning there is a monologue, as in fairy tales, where you find out what happened to these toys when they discover that they have feelings and become real human beings. When this happens, kids stop playing with them, they are not treated like toys but, all of a sudden, they are treated like real people. So they need to find the way of earning their living to survive. That is why they decide to create a company of "pagliacci" to go around working as "pagliacci" for living.

When did you get this kind of idea, earlier or just thinking of Pagliacci for this project in Rijeka?

I never thought about it until I was invited to do this in Rijeka. In the first meeting I had with Mani Gotovac and Nada Matoševic, I told them my concept. Together we went through my ideas, they told me what was possible to do and what was not, but they both agreed with the idea of having all three parts of this theatre drama, opera and ballet together in this project.

Nice, but you are also working on the set design for this show and we know that you are familiar with graphic design, photography. Is this your first set design?

No, it is not the first. Soon I am going to do Ballo in Cologne as a director and set designer. I already did scenes for that production.

When I decided to do the set design in Rijeka, I didn't want a real set. I just wanted the whole theatre open, like in a hall. The play starts in a school, the war has just finished (it could be any war that happened anywhere). People were poor.  They had no money to buy pencils, books, toys, all the people in this town brought to the school what they had at home. That's why I don't need a set, we just need a room and the stage is a room.

Yesterday I told the electricians not to worry about covering the lights because I want to be able to see everything.

Mentioning war, I read that in early days when you were young you also composed operas for children and some requiems for the Falklands. From whom did you inherit all those talents?

I was educated as composer and conductor. I began to sing at the age of 29 and since then I haven't had time to compose. When I was young I also started to act. When I started to sign I connected all these elements and developed the complete picture of myself. Later, I started to study design, set design.

You started to conduct at the age of 15, was it before the training?

I started to train when I was 12. That is not an unusual thing to do at that age - you have famous conductor Daniel Barenboim who started to conduct at the age of 11! In the art there are no rules: you just get there when you get there. Of course when I was 15 I didn't conduct Mahler, but some baroque music like Handel, small pieces. Little by little I started to conduct larger ones.

You recorded Rachmaninov with the Varsovia Orchestra. But there is also an interesting and sad story that is behind your decision to that piece…

Yes, it is really sweet and sad story. When I was appointed as conductor of the Sinfonia Varsovia, I had a friend who lived in Madrid. His name was Gacia-Navarro.  He also was a conductor and was like a brother to me. I was going to tell him the news of my engagement but instead I got the message that he had died 3 days before. I never got the chance to tell him the good news, never got the chance to ask him for some advice or ask him for some training...Because I already had engagements I wasn't able to be at his funeral. So, when I returned to the Orchestra, they asked me what I wanted to conduct in the first concert. I answered them that I wanted to do something that they had never played before. In the meanwhile I went back to Madrid and visited Navarro's family. There, I asked his wife if I could look through his library. Everything looked neatly placed except one score: Rachmaninov second symphony. I figured out what message my friend was sending me. The performance of that symphony was a great success not only in Poland, Vienna, Sweden and Portugal, we also recorded it and it was very well received by the international reviews because we had very fresh tempo and Slavic approach, not simply romantic.

You own a record company, Cuibar Phono Video, which recorded your performance with Sinfonia Varsovia…

This is the story that is connected with Rachmaninov. We wanted to record the concert but not as commercial one but as a souvenir. We wanted to have a recording of our first work together.

When we heard the recording we liked it, it was a very good performance. We decided to publish it-it would be a pity not to publish it! So we started to ask information on how to publish a new recording. We got to know that we had to have a legal label. So, in the beginning, we created the label only to be able to publish Rachmaninov. Later we changed the label a bit and we recorded Aurora, which was also a great success, then Dvorak's symphony and his Love songs, and now we are negotiating with one big international record company to do joint venture for future recordings.

What do you have in mind for future recording?

I don't know. Right now I have a special project: I am recording chamber music; just piano and voice of everywhere in the world, different style, different languages and only my voice. That's a dream I have and I would like to make it work! I have to start recording now and maybe keep recording for 6 or 7 years because it's a lots of repertoire.

When you learn new parts, how do you study them?

When I learn new piece I normally study alone. And when I have learned it thoroughly, only then, I start to work with the conductor who is going to conduct it directly. We start to discuss it together, finding colours and creating the roles together, I normally don't work with a repetiteur because I know to play the piano.

And now something different: you said that you are feeling wonderful in the Theatre. Are you staying in the hotel or in the apartment?

Unfortunately in a hotel. Not because I don't like hotels, we are in the very nice and beautiful hotel here, but because we are working at any time of the day, from early morning till late evening, so it is very difficult to find a restaurant to eat at that time. When you live in apartment you can easily prepare something to eat.

Do you like to cook?

Yes, I like cooking. I think every artist likes to cook.

Where do you go on your holidays?

My holidays are very complicated to negotiate with my family; because I am always traveling I want to spend my holidays at home but my wife and kids, that always stay at home, want to travel. So it is really difficult to negotiate this, but we find a compromise: we travel 15 days and spend 15 days at home.

How many children do you have?

Three, 2 boys and 1 girl - 19, 14, 11. We live in Madrid because it is great city, the weather is wonderful, the people are very nice, it is a very sunny country in central Europe where I am very comfortable and where they speak my language.

Do you work in Madrid or not?

No, never. I have the theory that it's better not to work too much in the city that you live, because in the city you are living you can be anonymous. You can walk and feel free to do whatever you want to do.

Is your wife your manager?

We have a company and she is the chief accountant: it's her profession.

What do you do in your free time? Do you practice any sport?

Well I try to practice as much as I can. It's difficult to practice any sport when you are moving all the time, but I do some gym, paddle tennis or even kung-fu.

How you keep your voice in good condition?

Well in this period, while I am working here, I am speaking a lot and you can hear that my voice is a bit tired.

What do you think is easier to keep: a male or a female voice rested?

I really don't know. Baritone and bass sing in the normal position, tenor is artificial. The first part of the voice of the tenor is normal and the second part is artificial. It is a very delicate voice to work with.

Have you seen any place apart from Rijeka?

I visited Opatija last year when I came for the concert. And now I am looking forward tomorrow, since I have the first free day in this long period and maybe we'll go to Opatija or somewhere else.

Last summer you were awarded the prize from Novi List. Did you get it and where did you put it?

The sculpture is in our office on top of  the bookcase, overseeing it.  I have to say very sincerely: it's not a thing you usually get. When I received it I put it there and said I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT.

Then because I see it every day I am beginning to see the movement of the wires, I am starting to understand this sculpture. And this is what always happens in art: you come to see a performance of a new piece and you don't like it at first. Then you hear it again and again and little by little you start to discover things. At the end you realize that it wasn't bad at all.



The Latest Challenge for José Cura is called "Un ballo in maschera”

 Heraldo / La Nacion / Terra

Directing a production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera "Un ballo in maschera" is the latest challenge José Cura, the Argentine tenor now residing in Spain, has set for himself. "I was invited to do it next year by the Cologne Opera, Germany," he tells us in his dressing room at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden where he is currently starring in "Stiffelio," also by Verdi.

Cura says he is not bothered that some people think adding the role of stage director will short-change his singing and explains that he is simply interested in expanding his field of activities. "Un ballo in maschera is an opera I know well since I have both sung and conducted it.  It is an interesting work to experiment with,” points out the musician.  “The fact that the tenor (in Cologne) is a man of color will force me to rethink the whole drama,” he adds, referring to North American singer Ray M. Wade.

This year Cura will also direct a spectacle called "La Commedia e finita" in Rijeka (Croatia), based, he says, on the opera “I Pagliacci” by Leoncavallo.


Regarding the opera that he has come here to sing, “Stiffelio”—the same one in which he made his London debut in 1995—Cura feels obliged to defend himself  against some of the reviews of the production that have recently been published. The critics have made note of the extraordinary vocal power of the principal singers, Cura (the Protestant pastor Stiffelio), the North American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky (Lina, his adulterous wife) and the Italian baritone Roberto Frontali (her father).

The vocal power is so great that it often seems to overwhelm the Royal Opera’s orchestra, conducted by Mark Elder, and prevent a more nuanced interpretation. What actually happens, says Cura, is that in the first act, which takes place inside the house where the pastor’s family live, the set acts like a big sound box, amplifying the voices.

“We are completely aware of it. It is like singing in the shower of your home. Sometimes we even lack contact with the orchestra. We cannot hear [the orchestra] well,” adds Cura to explain, on the other hand, why it seems that the singers are sometimes out of tune. “In Vienna, where we have done the opera before, since it is a co-production, the fact that the orchestra pit was higher helped balance the whole ensemble,” says the tenor.

In the second act, which takes place in the cemetery near the church--that is to say not situated in the “closed box” of the first act--both orchestral and vocal sound  seem to find an even better balance in London [than in Vienna], so that the phrasing becomes clearer and it is easier to understand the original Italian.

More experience

Cura, who made his debut with the same role at ROH in 1995, admits that from the vocal point of view he was singing at that time “with great spontaneity" whereas today he sings with “great prudence.”  With the experience he has gained over the years (he is currently forty-five) he says he now understands Stiffelio better.  And he considers him a “tremendous character.”

The opera is about a Protestant minister who returns home to find his wife has been unfaithful to him with another: Raffaele de Leuthold (sung by the Cuban Reinaldo Macías).

For Cura, although the opera may insinuate that the deceived husband offers pardons after the murder of the seducer by Lina’s father, the pastor has lost his faith and does not excuse the adulteress as do the parishioners (the choir). “I believe that the relationship between Stiffelio and Lina is irreparably broken,” says the tenor, for whom the protagonist is “a tortured, very confused character.” “That's why,” he adds, “I have darkened my voice, to make this person even more forebidding.”




Learning from a Maestro

 BBC Devon

Laura Joint

World famous tenor José Cura has been in Devon for a masterclass with 12 lucky opera singers culminating in a gala concert at Stover School.


Internationally renowned opera star José Cura spent two days in Devon over the May Bank Holiday, holding a masterclass with 12 talented young singers.

The Argentinian-born tenor, now based in Madrid, agreed to take the classes after becoming patron of professional touring company, New Devon Opera.

The opera company, based in South Devon, publicised the project in 2006 - and more than 100 singers from all over the world applied to be selected.

That number was whittled down to 38, who attended auditions in London on 24-26 April.

Of those, 12 lucky singers were selected for a José Cura masterclass in Devon on 6-7 May - and two of them are from the South West. They are Tyrone Piper from Bere Alston and Suzanne Manuell from Cornwall.

It's hoped the José Cura Opera Project will unearth a new generation of opera stars.

The public were able to eavesdrop on the classes at Jubilee Hall, Stover School, near Newton Abbot on 6 May. Then, on 7 May, the 12 singers performed mainly ensemble pieces in front of an audience including the Maestro himself.

José Cura took time out from performing in the Verdi opera, Stiffelio, at the Royal Opera House in London.

Linda Hughes, chair of New Devon Opera, says it was a real coup to bring José Cura to the county.

"This really puts Devon on the map," Linda told BBC Devon. "People from all over the world have taken an interest in this.  It's been a truly marvellous and unforgettable experience."

Linda attended the auditions in London and said all the singers felt inspired by José Cura: "The feedback from the singers was fantastic," said Linda.

"Their feet aren't touching the ground. José listened to them all and gave them feedback.

"He is so charismatic - he's probably the top singer in the romantic repertoire at the moment. And I think he is enjoying this fantastically - I don't know where he gets his energy from."

Linda hopes that the event can be repeated in the future - but on an even bigger scale.  New Devon Opera was formed in 2004 and auditions for performers locally and nationally. It is a not-for-profit charity.

In a classic case of 'if you don't ask, you don't get,' Linda approached José Cura about the role of patron.

"I was speaking to him at the Royal Opera House and I asked him. And he said yes!".






Published: October 19, 2007 5:20 p.m.


Jose Cura, tenor and maestro— the two jobs are combined in a single spectacular.  José Cura won fame as a tenor and now wants to become known as a conductor.  Proof is in the concert this Friday, The proof is in concert this Friday, Teatro San Carlos, in Lisbon.   

José Cura has not turned his back on music, but during the performance at San Carlos the voice given will not be that of the Argentine tenor but that of the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra.

Cura says that when he was a young musician he wanted to be an orchestra conductor and not a singer—and states that if he had to choose, he would be maestro.   

However, it was as a tenor that he became world famous and won the right to do whatever he likes without having to worry about financial matters.  

According to José Cura, the two professions are very different:  “The director has a more intellectual work, he has to coordinate many people, while the singer is only responsible for himself.”

In Teatro San Carlos, José Cura will direct one of the major works of Beethoven with the intensity and the drama that characterizes him as an opera singer.

He says that addressing the 9th Symphony of Beethoven as a conductor is much like it is for a tenor to sing Verdi’s Otello. “It is the very top of what you can dream.  And I will lead it [the symphony] as I believe Beethoven would like it to be conducted,” Cura says.

José Cura will also sing some opera arias during the first part of the concert as part of the half and half format invented by the tenor and conductor.





NANCY Master Class

Forum Opéra


Concert lyrique final des master classes de José Cura

Prélude, ouverture, airs et duos d’opéras de :

Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Camille Saint-Saëns 1835-1921
Jules Massenet 1842-1912
Ruggero Leoncavallo (1857-1919)
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

José Cura, ténor, Artistes lyriques
Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy
Directions musicales : José Cura; Mario De Rose

Nancy, Opéra national de Nancy et de Lorraine,
Dimanche 2 septembre 2007


[gist translation]



The operatic tradition of the City of Dukes de Lorraine has been well established for years and many natives of Nancy remember - and have carefully preserve the programs - the fabulous lyric seasons of the [19]50s, when a new spectacle would be presented every week!  It was not rare to attend, to list only two titles, Postillon de Longjumeau by Adolphe Adams or La Poupée by Edmond Audran.  Over the years the city has not been able to preserve such recurrences of opera magic but has continued to treat the public with high quality entertainment presented by artists of national and international fame.

Indeed, it was a frequent occurrence to hear those to whom we added, after their names, “from the opera” to indicate they were glorious residents of the Paris Opera--Mado Robin, Jacqueline Brumaire, Régine Crespin, Guy Chauvet, Henri Legay, Michel Dens, Gabriel Baquier, Alain Vanzo.   The Opera of Nancy also welcomed great international stars and we regularly found Piero Cappuccilli, Rolando Panerai, Nicola Rossi Lemeni, Sesto Bruscantini, Paolo Montarsolo, Ruggero Raimondi, and Fedora Barbieri alongside other artists from Europe and even from Asia. Sometimes the biggest of the big pass through Nancy, such as Lucia Valentini Terrani and, before unrolling the red carpet for José Cura, a great singer of today, his illustrious predecessor-tenors: Giacomo Lauri Volpi, Luis Mariano and Carlo Bergonzi.

It was a time when the people supported this opera and in the late 60s the first association promoting lectures and brochures to represent the works on the opera’s season, as well as hosting open receptions with the artists, was born. Today, the city has four (!) [of these associations] and one of them, Nancy Opéra Passion, had a surprise for the public that reflected the splendours of the not-so-distant past. …..We can see what creates the ‘passion’ in the title of the association:  bring an artist of the calibre of José Cura, who returns to France after an absence of six years, and allow us, a fabulous once-in-a-lifetime chance, to “draw near this immense artist,” according to the President [of the association, Jacques Delfosse].


Now it is time to exclaim, much as Tonio from Pagliacci comes in front of the curtain to explain in Leoncavallo's brilliant conceived Prologue: "Andiam, incominciate!” (Let us go, begin!).

It is precisely the Prelude from Pagliacci that the orchestra attacks, spread out widely and in an impressive way for the public most familiar with it jammed into its “Golfo mistico,” to use once more the attractive Italian expression for the orchestra pit.  Curiously, it is not José Cura who directs…we know, however, of the double talent of this artist, the one who becomes a conductor to be more still, if one can say so, to listen to the singers.

We notice the energy and heat with which Mario De Rose (José Cura’s assistant) attacks and drives the tormented music of Leoncavallo, but what are they going to do as the prelude breaks off so that the baritone can appear in front of the curtain? We get the answer and a surprise:  it is no less than José Cura, the great tenor, who sings the part of the baritone!  In doing so he takes up the practice of outstanding tenors such as the incomparable Mario Del Monaco, tenors whose span of vocal registers allows them this performance.

We discover just like that the measure of this Artist:  the exceptional cream and quality of the timbre, combined with perfect control of vocal emission and a warmly Latin vibration and an interpreter who obviously ‘lives’ what he sings.  One does not need more to conquer this curious public, even if he is already known, and it did not end the evening's surprises. . . . .

With surprising ease, José Cura addresses the public, jokes with them and then introduces the first artist, Stéphanie Vernerin, from France, who sings with attractive fruity tones Musetta’s waltz from La Bohéme (G. Puccini).   One hardly recovers from the quality of the timbre and the singing of this young soprano, who began in 2004, when José Cura underlines the peculiarity of the bass which he introduces.  Jan St’ Ava come from the Czech Republic and is only nineteen years old but nevertheless has a voice with a cavernous low register enhanced by a brilliant middle and with the capability of bringing to life "Vecchia zimarra", the famous, if brief, intense aria of the philosopher Colline from La Bohéme.

It was again Puccini whom we hear next and Marie Karall (France), having only begun studying last year, astonishes us with a big voice, full in all the registers and giving again grace and passion to "O Mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi.  For the public who did not attend the master class the day before, no one could have suspected the miracle wrought by the “Maestro.” This soprano had arrived with a narrow, badly placed and poorly controlled voice.  José Cura, in trying to remedy this disaster, eventually said to her:  “Imagine you sing Tosca!”  And the artist, finally breaking free of herself and releasing her voice, succeeded in reaching the magnificent notes.

The tenor Avi Klemberg (France) has been working for four years but it is not only he who sings.  It is José Cura, who not only conducts the orchestra with love but also assumes the part of the baritone (!) at the beginning of the aria.  It is the brief but warm “Addio fiorito asil,” from the always charming Puccini (Madama Butterfly), which Klemberg sings in a beautiful lyric tenor with delicate high notes,  reliably and with confidence.

Maria Bisso, though Spanish, is a fellow countryman of José Cura since she was born in Buenos Aires.  She took a training course at that city’s famous “Teatro Colón,” a real bastion of Italian opera in Latin America, and won the 2001 International Competition Maria de São Paulo in Brazil. She sang nothing less than "Regnava nel silenzio,” the opening soprano aria in Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti. 

The means of expression explains more than anything the particular difficulty in this aria, taken straight from the Italian romantic spirit: a dreamy and delicate song but at the same time passionate, a prisoner of the era, so to speak, of vocal exercises and very shrill sections in musical expression.  Thus we are astonished that this substantial, firm, almost hard, voice was capable of such well-driven vocalism and assured high notes and ‘density.’ The contrast is most striking when compared with the next artist, a French mezzo-soprano of Italian origin, Alexia Ercolani, who began study in 2003.  The aria “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix” from Samson et Dalila (C. Saint-Saëns) places emphasis on the lower register and she is endowed with an impressive vibrato which blurs in the well-projected higher notes…and what a Samson responds to her!  The conductor, José Cura, who in jest, replaces the lover’s final response “Dalila!  I love you!” with an ecstatic but well good balance:  “Alexia!  I love you!”

From South Korea comes baritone Changhan Lim who has worked in France since 2003 with such artists as Elisabeth Vidal, André Cognet and Michèle Command and who has already sung on stage in La Bohéme, Carmen, Cavalleria rusticana and in the title role in Don Giovanni. A beautiful lower register and a luxurious middle as well as [vocal] suppleness, all the attributes of a valued baritone, are here put into service in the aria “Vision fugitive” from Hérodiade by Massenet, and leads us to predict a beautiful career.

A duet rarely performed in concert finishes the first half.  Drawn from Pagliacci, the duet between Nedda and Silvio allows us to hear again soprano Maria Bisso, impeccable in the old-fashioned coloratura of Nedda, and to discover a young, local baritone, since Benjamin Colin was born in Nancy.  Also a student of Michèle Command, he began in both opera and operetta; one feels in his performance brave work, effort and concentration in spite of his difficulties in pronouncing Italian, a curious yet perceptible defect, considering the mother tongues are “cousins,” noticeable in French singers. He is now part—just consecrated—of the Chœurs de l’Opéra national de Nancy and Lorraine.

After the break a beautiful surprised awaited the public when José Cura announced a favorite opening of opera concerts:  I Vespri Siciliani (or rather Les Vêpres siciliennes, because the original French version is being given more and more often) of Giuseppe Verdi.

We had been, up to now, able to appreciate the art of conducting by José Cura, who does not enslave the singers as we could accuse some conductors of doing but rather serves the singers as the composer [would]. With this masterly opening, we now had the measure of this chef-d’orchestre in opera, renewing an ever more distant tradition, as well as the fashion of today, to conduct quickly, believing that speed ‘equals’ dramatic. One result is that we often end up with a dry interpretation, empty of poetry and burnt wings of Musique.  José Cura, however, let the orchestra breathe (and God knows how much Verdi needs to breathe:  we speak of the sight of panting Verdiens).  Of course, the poignant motive for the father-son duet played here by cellos is already opera par excellence, but it is still necessary to know how to let them sing. As for the martial crescendo, more usually solid or booming, we heard it amazingly produced, in the style of Franco Capuana, supple and warm like Gianandrea Gavazzeni.  In brief, much like Fernando Previtali, José Cura made the entire overture vibrate with a theatrical sense…

At the end of the burst of amply deserved applause, it was touching to hear José Cura, as if speaking to himself, as a dreamer still under the spell (nevertheless obtained by him!), murmur, ‘What an orchestra, my God!”,  and then still pensive and in a hushed voice, to the first rows, “This belongs to you!  It must be preserved!”

But why does he not turn around completely to receive the applause?  It is because an even more beautiful picture awaits us: Cura eventually steps down from the podium, joins the first instrumentalists and then faces the public, one with the orchestra.

The second part of the concert opened with more Verdi, the great baritone aria from Don Rodrigo di Posa in Don Carlo. Although the piece is usually called “Mort de Posa” because the character is shot during this scene in the drama, we could enjoy José Cura’s joke in which he introduces it as follows: “The death of Rodrigo, but without the death!” Such perhaps was his intention, but it could also mean that the baritone was going to sing only the first of two arias, which make up what we would call a double ‘aria.’  Andrej Benes, who come from the Czech Republic, had the luck to meet in 2004 (the year of his debut) one of the greatest baritones of the 20th century, Giuseppe Taddei.  We were struck to discover the ‘purified’ tone of D. Fischer Dieskau, with the German singer's characteristic clarity of emission, and at the same time,with an astonishingly assured high notes.  As for the counterpart envisioned by Verdi for Don Carlo, also present at this moment in the opera, we heard them coming from another mouth and, once we recovered from the surprising effect which they produced when seeming to come our of nowhere, we said to ourselves:  “But of course!  José Cura does Don Carlo—and what a Don Carlo!”

The captivating Verdi was always honored for the following piece, the dazzling Finale to the first Act of La TraviataAude Priya Engel (France), who left the Academy of Toulouse in 2002, has already sung this work, as well as in La Bohéme and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  Her blazing timbre “leaves” in the high notes in a surprising way but the astonishing mastery she has is also there. She also surmounted the difficulties of the final cabaletta “Sempre libera,” of which it is absolutely necessary for us to underline the quietly mischievous tempo (of another era!) which José Cura imprints with his orchestra.  We know that in this piece Alfred intervenes, off-stage under Violetta’s window, a detail that often makes us smile in fascination according to how near or far the theater relegates the poor tenor, sometimes almost in the cellar, as someone once commented in humor. Well, this time it starts straightforwardly and especially since Alfredo is present on stage, a brilliant Alfredo, high notes blazing, José Cura putting into practice as well the words which he sings:  “Amore è palpito…” while by his side, his Violetta, all the more stimulated, one must say, vocally ignites.

Next is the first part of Alfredo’s aria “De’ miei bollenti spiriti” sung by tenor Thomas Blondelle from Belgium.  A young graduate of the Conservatory of Bruges, he has received numerous prizes since 2006.  His tone is clear and he is endowed with such confidence that we were amazed at the strength in which he ‘lives’ his singing and, though this is not always the case with this aria, vibrates literally with the words he sings:  “De’miei bollenti spiriti / Il giovanil ardore : De mon esprit bouillant, / La juvénile ardeur.”

Very deserving, a young soprano moves onstage gracefully but without affectation and José Cura explains that Gabrijela Ubavic, from Serbia, is ill but, in the absence of being able to really perform, she is still anxious to take part.  She will sing only half of the aria “Addio del passato” (La Traviata), which means she had the praiseworthy intention to interpret the da capo which is very often cut.  José Cura consequently requested the indulgence of the audience for her.  Gabrijela Ubavic began in 2002 at the National Opera of Belgrade and has performed in Europe since then.  We are stuck at once by the consistency of her tone, luxuriously copper-colored, so to speak, rich and full but very docile, effortless.  We learn with astonishment from the program that she also sings roles requiring great vocal agility, like Gilda (Rigoletto) and Norina (Don Pasquale). Faced with such a quality of tone and song, we think with shivers of what must be the level of performance from this opera singer when she is in top form.

Finally, Julija Samsonova from Lithuania comes to sing us the last piece from the participants in the master class.  Leaving the Academy Rossini de Pesaro, she began in 2005 with the role of Corinna in Il Viaggio a Reims by Rossini at the prestigious Rossini Opera Festival, which the city has dedicated to this composer.  Here she sang Desdemona’s aria from Verdi’s Otello, the curious “Air du Saule.” Samsonova displays a velvet timbre in brilliant complexions, a beautiful sound with melodious low register, superb piani and control of tone.  An exemplary legato makes the ‘passages’ unperceivable and leaves the listener breathless. It must also be said that the orchestra formed a single body in its exceptional interpretation, José Cura chiseling marvelous subtleties from the “old man’ Verdi, like the violins in their highest notes concluding “Ave Maria.” 

José Cura, so invested and so touched by what he heard that tears come to his eyes, wonders how he is going to sing now that it is his turn, at the conclusion of the concert!

He concentrates and forgets the fatigue and heat while Maestro Rose makes his entrance.  The piece is nothing less than the finale of Otello, in which the hero contemplates his Desdemona, whom he has just straggled in unjustified jealousy before killing himself.  José Cura’s Otello roars at first, with a warm strength that is always phenomenally harmonious, filling the entire auditorium of the Opera, which is held silent and continues to hold its breath…Almost as much as the great tenor, whose astonishing emission in mezza-voce captivates the audience.  He continues the aria, always balanced between beautiful delicacy and painful intensity lived every inch…Then when Verdi greets his public—in the last dramatic flight of the orchestra, typical of its style, Otello-José Cura still cries out again:  “Un bacio… un bacio ancora… ah !… un altro bacio…” and then his voice dies out gently, and the orchestra with it.

Under his spell, the audience of the Opera of Nancy waits while the impalpable magic of the opera hangs over it before bursting into applause and then into an ovation during which José Cura invites all the artist to rejoin him joyfully on the stage.  Shortly after, the ‘Maestro’ stops the ovation with a raised arm and the public expects the announcement of an encore…perhaps the famous Brindisi from La Traviata, often selected at the end of a concert, or at least some words of greeting, of wishes, but no, José Cura declares simply with the ‘little bit direct’ carelessness which characterizes him:  “Now, we will all eat!” Then they really step off the stage, leaving the once more public astonished (this time having too little to celebrate to suit its taste) but profoundly moved.  [Yonel BULDRINI]




The Lessons of the Master

 L'Est Republicain

Sept 2007

To be guided by Jose Cura, internationally known tenor and conductor: for fourteen young singers it’s a dream come true.


“There is no one way of singing, and there’s not one person who sings like another. Everyone must find his own approach.” Helping young people find their own style of singing, that’s how the Argentine tenor and conductor José Cura sees his role as teacher. During public Master classes presented by the Nancy Opera this week-end, he expressed his “tender feelings for those who do their best, for all those who make sacrifices in order to improve their performance.” With humor and patience he guided his students, took them up again, corrected them, and then congratulated them when they finally integrated his advice.


Great Generosity


For Marie Karall, a young singer who has followed his Master classes, “it is a chance for young people like us to rub elbows with a true artist. He knows and has experienced all that’s problematic and can provide us with all the keys for anticipating problems and improving. José Cura is someone who has the ability to see errors very quickly and consequently to correct us swiftly.” What was a pleasant surprise to the young woman was his “great generosity and his incredible ear for others.” “He is as rigorous and meticulous as he is passionate, and he has a great love for music but also for young people. He is capable of putting himself on our level,” she remarked. Besides the good advice from the Maestro, what Marie particularly appreciated was to be able to perform for the first time in her life with an orchestra in a big opera house. “Many young people, who debut in this profession, must begin on small stages. For me, singing under these conditions was a real pleasure.”


Nancy Master Class and Concert Sept 1 & 2 - from Hala




José Cura Show at the Opera

 L'Est Republicain

The teacher and his students gave a concert late yesterday afternoon. Discovering new voices.


José Cura in the role of singing professor, conductor, and ‘Monsieur Loyal’ late yesterday afternoon on the stage of the l'Opéra de Nancy at the invitation of the ‘Nancy Opéra Passion’ Association: The great Argentine tenor, who had not performed in France in several years, initiated his return to the country with a master-class for thirteen young singers. Yesterday’s concert was the result of the previous day’s work sessions.


Chatting with the audience, the tenor called out to a small child to ask him for his name, then asked his students to refuse to reveal their identity, address, and phone number, undoubtedly to put them at ease.  Remembered from the first half, begun about thirty minutes late due to the rush at the ticket counters: The Prologue from Pagliacci with the maestro, the performance of the young 19-year-old Czech who offered an aria from La Bohéme in a powerful, clear, and well positioned bass voice, also the aria of Hérode from Massenet’s Hérodiade, sung by Korean baritone Changham Lim with great presence and excellent diction—a lesson for the Frenchwoman who preceded him on stage and from whom we had difficulty understanding the words in the duet from  Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saëns. With a booming "Hello, colleague", the maestro then welcomed the French tenor Avi Klemberg, who bravely managed the Pinkerton aria from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly.  It is regrettable that Argentine Maria Biso chose to perform Lucia di Lammermoor since the timbre of her voice did not correspond well at all with the hallucinatory nature of the character.  The baritone from Nancy, Benjamin Colin, a former student of Arcadi Volodos at the Conservatory of Nancy, sang a duet from Pagliacci with little power but with a well-placed voice.


The second half of the concert was far more interesting, with the overture from Verdi’s I Vêpres siciliennes, played superbly by the Orchestre de Nancy under the baton of José Cura:  atmosphere, changes in color, breathing—it was all there. Although unwell, the Serb Gabriela Ubavic managed a convincing Traviata, and the Belgian Thomas Blondelle a very respectable Alfredo.  Real emotion came, however, only with Lithuanian Julija Samsonova who splendidly carried off the role of Desdemona.


As for the maestro, he stirred every soul in the room with an Otello whose death he experienced with his entire being. As a singer but also as an actor. True art, indeed!


An evening that had begun like something out of "Dimanche Martin" thus came to an end with profoundness and dramatic intensity.



Nancy Master Class and Concert Sept 1 & 2 - from Hala



José Cura, Instinctive and Ardent Argentine Tenor


A red-hot master class with José Cura yesterday at the Opéra de Nancy.  The Argentine tenor demands maximum emotional risks of young artists.  Today, the singer will offer a special recital.


After a six-year absence from France, the Argentine tenor José Cura chose the stage of the Opéra de Nancy to offer a recital of some of the most beautiful arias in the repertoire.  He will be accompanied by some of the most promising young talents of the international operatic stage.


Yesterday, a handful of privileged people attended the rehearsals/coaching sessions of the artist, thanks to the initiative of the Nancy Opéra Passion--a master class which takes your breath away and bowls you over all at the same time.


Jeans, a black T-shirt, small spectacles perched on the tip of his nose, Latin and even a bit macho: that’s José Cura conducting the orchestra as he concentrates on a frail 23-year-old.  Alexia Ercolani is a magnificent mezzo-soprano.  Her task is to sing Mon coeur, the sublime duet from Camille Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, with him.  It is not [vocal] technique that José Cura is interested in; it is the expression of an emotion.  He will never stop until he reaches his goals.  The singing lesson . . . passion!


First of all, he reassures the singer, relaxes her, whispering lines in her ear.  The orchestra of the Nancy opera is attentive.  José Cura makes them understand the music must be fluid, moving from one group of instruments to another like a warm feeling.  Then, suddenly, he looks at Alexia, urging her to look deep into his eyes.  This is a love duet. It must be ardent, it must be deeply moving.  Everything is in the breath.  The singer is still reserved. He stops; breaks the spell.


It’s just the carnality, only the ‘perversion’, that you lack


The next moment, he takes her by the shoulder.  He is massive, powerful; she is tiny.  Little by little she relaxes; her voice fills the auditorium.  One can feel that she’s gaining confidence, taking some pleasure while he hums and locks eyes with her.  “Put some heat into it, heat it up," he tells her bluntly, "Come on!”  Again, he stops.  “Listen, understand:  This is not a woman talking to a guy, no.  This here is not a woman, this is a female… you get the nuance?  It is not easy being Dalila.  I know. You have the voice, the look….”  He puts his hand on Alexia’s forehead.  “You lack only the ‘perversion’.”  The young woman has gotten it; she surrenders herself, lets herself go.  José Cura applauds.


A little later, biting with relish into a very juicy fig, he explains his approach.  “I do not have the time to go into the musical detail and teach an academic course.  I have only one day to awaken their curiosity, to activate that sixth sense which the performer has in him.” 


The sensuality of art


In search of passion, of emotion on the stage, he gives his all shamelessly.  Endowed with an animal magnetism that he does not attempt to curb, he even demands “the sensuality of art.  Art is nothing but that.  It is necessary to put technique at the service of the senses.  What happens too often is the opposite.  I am saying that the artist must strip, must bare his soul.”  


His –hot– Latin temperament, his vocal ease allow him to find maximum expressivity, something that turns a room upside down – and women in the audience in particular.  “Right now, Alexia, I wanted to get all this sensuality of hers gone; rather, I wanted to go into the sexuality of the character.  Sometimes people have difficulty doing this in public.  It is a question of upbringing. But when you are on stage, you are at the service of a character.  Totally, body and soul.  Otherwise, nothing will happen.”   




Nancy Master Class and Concert Sept 1 & 2 - from Hala




Nancy Master Class


Terra Actualidad - EFE

22 August 2007

Soprano Maria Bisso will study with José Cura in Nancy

The Spanish-Argentine soprano is one of fourteen singers from different countries who will take part in the master class that Argentine tenor José Cura offers on 1 and 2 September in Nancy, in the east of France, according to reports from the event’s promoter.

The other thirteen who have been selected are Julija Samsonova from Lithuania, Gabrijela Ubavic from Serbia, Jan St'Ava and Andrej Benes from the Czech Republic, Thomas Blondelle from Belgium, Changahn Lim from South Korean, and Eva Gazinate, Benjamin Colin, Aude Priya Engel, Alexia Ercolani, Eva Gazinate, Marie Karall, Avi Klemberg and Stephanie Varnerin from France.

Together with José Cura, they will work on the interpretation and the construction of roles.

The master class will be open to the public and will conclude with a concert provided by the Maestro and his pupils at the Opera Nacional de Lorena, accompanied by Orchestra Sinfónica and Lírica de Nancy.

After an absence from the French stage of six years, this will be ‘an exceptional occasion,’ according to the organizers, to hear José Cura, who will present his interpretation of the ‘Prologue’ from I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo and  ‘Niun mi tema' from Verdi’s Otello.

The tenor will also sing more Verdi, but this time the duet 'Son Io mio Carlo...per me giunto’ from Don Carlo with Czech baritone Andrej Benes, and then sing ‘Mon coeur’ from Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saëns with French mezzo-soprano Alexia Ercolani.

Maria Bisso is expected to sing 'Regnava nel silenzio', a fragment from ‘Lucia di Lammermoor' by Donizetti.



Acclaimed Argentine Tenor to offer Two Masterclasses in Nancy

La Prensa / Terra


José Cura as teacher

Although he has not sung in France for over six years—for reasons he can’t explain—he is driven to share his knowledge with the next generation.

The Argentine tenor José Cura, who in September will offer two masterclasses in the French location of Nancy, says he feels a need to teach the younger interpreters.

“All artists, after achieving a certain level of experience, have an obligation to give something back to the future generations. On the one hand because we owe much to those who came before and on the other in an effort to help avoid the Calvary through which I passed,” said Cura during a press conference in Paris.

The singer made reference to his difficult beginnings, when bad advice forced him into the wrong repertoire and nearly ended his career.

Cura, who has not performed in France since 2001, will return to the country in which he lived for five years to offer masterclasses on 1 and 2 September, followed by a concert whose profits will be targeted to benefit charities. 

The Argentine tenor and conductor says he will not try to “teach how to sing” but instead will convey to his students his experiences and the importance of bringing passion to the profession.

Transmitting Passion

“I am not the Pope, I do not teach dogma, I merely transmit my experiences.  The beauty and the success of a voice is somewhat subjective but there is nothing subjective about a human’s commitment, both artistically and professionally.  It is something I take very seriously and it has become my cause," he commented.

Cura will focus on “the importance of feeling the character being interpreted,” because, he says, “in the theatre it is necessary to offer something special in the interpretation, otherwise people will put on a CD, stay home and save the money a ticket would cost.”

The tenor does not deny the importance of good vocal technique but insists that technique should be transparent. 

“One of the best compliments I receive is when they say I do not have technique.  What that means is that my technique is not obvious and I am one of those who thinks that if you notice [technique] while the singer is performing then he is interpreting badly," he said.  

Stubborn Artist

Cura believes that current opera productions require tenors to sing too forcefully because scores originally designed for 50 instruments are now being played by 90.  “It is the heritage of a few people who destroyed it 50 years ago to stay in favor with the press,” he says.

He feels there is an advantage to students with him being both singer and conductor.

Cura did not dwell on the reasons for his absence from France for six years, though he does remember that the critics of his final performance were ferocious. “The last time I was here they said I was finished.  Six years later I am back and ready to continue the battle.”

The singer confesses he does not know why no one has called him to return to France, a country in which he lived for five year and where his youngest child was born.  “I have no bad memories of France but if she has bad memories of me, then there is nothing I can do about it.  If I return to perform, it will be the same as before, because with age I have become even more stubborn.  I am not going to force anyone to hire me.  I have more work now than I can do,” he says.



Opera Needs to Connect to the Present

JAVIER PÉREZ SENZ - Barcelona - 12/10/2007

El Pais

José Cura (Rosario, Argentina, 1962), tenor.  He is also a conductor, stage director and has his own record label.  Cura does not conceive of opera as a simple musical exhibition and claims the right to seek his own interpretation of a character without yielding to tradition. The Argentine tenor, now living in Spain, stars in Giordano’s Andrea Chénier at the Liceu of Barcelona until 17 October; although he lives in Madrid, it has been over seven years since he last worked at the Teatro Real, following a controversial clash with the public after a performance of Il Trovatore.  “It is not enough to sing. We must get into the skin of the character, look for nuances and vocal colors that define his state of mind,” he says.

Question:  In opera it continues to be rare to see singers who, as well as sing, take the risk and give their all in a theatrical interpretation of a character.  Is the cult of the voice still prevalent in the seats?

José Cura:  Resistance to embracing the theatrical dimension of opera does not come from the younger generation but from that of my father’s, those who now fill the theaters.  It is a public blind to theatrical innovations because of how they learned to love opera, and they live in the past with strong emotional nostalgia.  I respect that, but I also claim the right, as a singer, not to do that, not to live anchored in the past, not to always do the same thing.  Opera must connect to the present.

Question:  How do you prepare for a role?

José Cura:  With a conductor’s mentality and also with that of a stage director.  I am a composer and I like to analyze the score to find the key to every scene, using every nuance to shape the feelings of the character.  I like researching, reflecting on the personality of the role that I sing, and sharing my ideas and findings with the directors and the other singers.  If I have confidence in them, I will suggest they try new things to deepen the relationship of the characters on stage.

Question:  Maria Callas fought for change the theatrical expression of singing and today, thirty years after her death, there is no similar reference in the opera world.

José Cura:  But many continue to follow her example.  Sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice pure vocal beauty to achieve theatrical truth.  You cannot die as Otello, with a dagger nailed to your stomach, singing as if it were nothing at all.  In singing, this agony has to be reflected, with a darker voice, suffocated.  The opera is theater, governed by a musical thought but a theater that requires the singer to also be an actor.  Of course, today nobody questioned the interpretive revolution created by Maria Callas but it worth recalling that she died alone, bitter and forgotten.  And the public who today venerates her is the child of the public who denigrated her.

Question:  How can opera in the 21st century compete against macroconcerts, cinema, or the new technologies to attract an audience?

José Cura:  The opera, the ballet, and the pure theater are the only spectacles in which the artist sits alone and without network.  The audience can connect to what human beings can do on their own, without gadgets.  That is why it is so cruel for a viewer who is ready to judge an artist by comparison with what he has heard on a CD.  There are many voices that impress on disk, and then later, in the theater, not listening to them.

Question:  Since you are a famous tenor, may people do not take your conducting career seriously.   

José Cura:  I was born a musician and was a guitarist and conductor before I was a singer.  I discovered the possibilities of my voice at the age of 28 and then started my career as a soloist, conductor, and composer.  I know there are singers who make a career with minimal music training, some have even triumphed without knowing how to read a score, and they sing very well without any more knowledge.  In my case, however, music is my passion and everything I do when singing on stage, as strange or bizarre as it may seem, is justified in the music, because it responds to nuances and indications in the score.  As a conductor, I have the respect of the orchestras with which I work and would not be hired if the musical results were bad.  On 19 October I will lead the inaugural concert of the season at the Teatro San Carlos de Lisboa with an opera gala in the first half and then Beethoven’s Ninth in the second. 

Question:  And you are also fortunate in stage direction.

José Cura:  My fundamental job is as a tenor, because I am in the prime of my career.  But I enjoy doing more things, not by whim but rather by artistic necessity.  I am passionate about conducting orchestras and each time I direct it tempts me more and more.  I have already had several experiences and now I am preparing the scenery and staging of Un ballo in maschera which I will direct for the Cologne Opera in 2008. 

Question:  Since your controversial clash with the audience in the Teatro Real in 2000 you have not sung again in that venue.  It must be difficult to perform in major theaters around the world and not step on stage at the one in the city where you live.

José Cura:  Yes, it is a strange situation.  For my part, the controversy is closed and forgotten.  Honestly, I long for the sensation of singing in the theater of the city in which I live and being able to sleep in my house after a performance.  I hope to return some day to the Teatro Real.  Its artistic director, Antonio Moral, came to see me during the Otello performances in the Liceu in 2006 and said he would send me a proposal but I have never received it.  With the Liceu, I have signed a new contract to do Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci in 2011.  The truth is that I do not have many contracts in Spain and my calendar for 2008 lists only a performance of Samson et Dalila in Santander.



Opera Rara


Opera Rara Bel Canto Prize, 4 May 2007


Opera Rara Patric Schmid Bel Canto Prize

Duke's Hall, Royal Academy of Music 4 May 2007

 Serena Fenwick


In complete contrast to my previous evening at the joyous Guildhall Gold Medal concert, I now joined the aesthetically rarefied realm of the Opera Rara Bel Canto competition. The participants, all students of RAM, had taken part in a preparatory training course. Each offered two arias, which included some real gems of obscurity, and were then required to take part in an ensemble piece. None of the singers seemed particularly comfortable with the style, and it probably did not bring out the best in them.

The winner was soprano Julia Sporsen the most experienced singer in the competition and a finalist last year. She offered a very showy aria from Il Pirata which Callas was notoriously fond of performing and an interesting rarity from Mayr's Medea in Corinto . She held her ensemble trio together very effectively.

Second prize went to Welsh mezzo Caryl Hughes, looking cheerful in a bright red dress and singing with her usual accuracy and attention to detail. She had Una voce poco fa comfortably sung in and showed off some commendably good French in an aria from Donizetti's Dom Sebastien.

Opera Rara had been meticulous in supplying full texts and translations, and the repertoire certainly provided food for thought.

1st Prize – Julia Sporsen - soprano
2nd Prize – Caryl Hughes – mezzo soprano
Other Finalists – Lan Wei – soprano; George von Bergen – baritone; Richard Rowe – tenor; Dong Jun Wang – baritone

Jury: Chevalier José Cura; Sir Peter Moores; Patricia Bardon; Simon Keenlyside; Edward Gardner




Samson Was a Terrorist



June 2007

Sandra de la Fuente


The last time he gave a performance during the Teatro Colón’s season was in 1999. Tomorrow, José Cura will star in “Samson and Dalila” at the Coliseo. Today, he reflects on the work…



José Cura in Argentina, Summer 2007After an eight year absence, the Rosarino tenor José Cura returns to Buenos Aires in a concert version of Camille Saint-Saens’ opera Samson and Dalila, which will be presented tomorrow at the Coliseo as part of the Colón’s season. Recognized as one of the great voices of today on the international scene, José Cura is a very unusual artist who, besides singing, conducts orchestras, composes, and also has recently started to make incursions into stage management/directing.


 In spite of his established reputation as singer in the leading theaters of the world, the Colón has been elusive for him. Apart from Otello in 1999, there has been virtually no performance of his at the Teatro. “My absence coincides with a turbulent time in this country. During that period, the Colón did not have consistency in its scheduling which complicated the hiring of artists who book their calendars five or six years in advance. The question they always asked me was: ‘Can you be here the day after tomorrow?’” explains Cura in an exclusive interview with Clarin. “Eventually, after Marcelo Lombardero took over, the Colón became more stable, particularly concerning its image abroad. During the great crisis, the Colón was spoken of as a theater to which it was better not to come. Now, European musicians are beginning to say it is worth the trouble of going back to the Colón.”


What is gained and what is lost in this concert version of Samson?


Any opera loses in a concert version; when there is no dramatization, the opera can lose its impact. But Samson and Dalila borrows much from oratorio, so one doesn’t miss the theatrical aspect as much as in a work of verismo. But in this production, we will not be standing like sticks behind a music stand; neither will we wear tuxedos. Though there is no set, we will enter and exit according to when we have to sing. It will be dynamic, with gestures and even lighting that will produce a certain atmosphere.


What is your idea of Samson?


I believe there are two ways to interpret the role. One where Samson is prophetic, good, Christian. To me, this view seems erroneous. Samson was a judge and in his day, judges were military leaders; they defended one people and subjected another; they were men that were essentially violent, revolutionaries. Samson was killing as if he were breaking off a piece of bread. He killed a lion with his bare hands and pulled down a temple, sacrificing himself. That act turned him into history’s foremost terrorist. He was killing in the name of God—some contradiction in terms!—and sacrificed himself so as to kill in the name of God. His legend is about 3,500 years old and has a modern ring to it that is as sad as it is shocking. My view of Samson has been criticized many times for lack of spirituality. That’s right, it does lack the spirituality of today, but it has the spirituality of 1,500 BC when the lex talionis (the law of retaliation, of an eye for an eye) was the rule.


It is very hard to think that an aggressive personality like that can be in accord with the music of this opera.


That’s where the danger is. One needs to interpret the text, not the music. The music adorns the text, but that embellishment needs to be used to advantage; good use can be very interesting, because beautiful music which contains a tremendous, i.e. a dreadful text may take a turn toward the ironic.


Translation: Monica B.




Something to sing about!

By Laura Joint

BBC Devon

Aug 2006

Internationally renowned tenor José Cura has agreed to be Patron of New Devon Opera - and he's coming to the county to lead an opera masterclass.

A Devon opera company has something to sing out loud about, after internationally famous tenor José Cura agreed to become its new patron.

New Devon Opera, currently enjoying its second full season, approached the Argentinian-born singer about the role - and he said 'yes' straight away.

And he will also be leading a masterclass with around a dozen singers. That will take place in Devon in the spring of 2007, with the singers then performing in a special concert.

Ivybridge-based New Devon Opera is a professional touring company but is a not-for-profit charity. So it uses professional performers, but financially is reliant on ticket sales and donations - although there are plans to apply for Arts Council funding.

In 2005 - its first season - the company performed The Magic Flute at venues across Devon.

This summer, the chosen opera is Rossini's The Barber of Seville, with venues at Kingsbridge, Dartmouth, Exmouth and Chudleigh.

The company auditions for the roles and this year, three of the principal singers are from Devon. Other performers are from elsewhere in the South West and London, while the community chorus is selected from local groups.

Chair of New Devon Opera, Linda Hughes, explains how she managed to sign up José Cura as Patron: "I was speaking to him at the Royal Opera House and I asked him. And he said yes!

"We're thrilled. He's a mega international star."

The singer, now based in Madrid, was only too happy to oblige when asked to become Patron. He said: "I truly hope that New Devon Opera enjoys economic success which will allow the company to develop in a strong and confident way."

And it gets better, because the tenor is coming to Devon to lead a masterclass with a group of singers who successfully audition for places.

Applications must be submitted by 30th November 2006 and is open to singers nationally. Anthony Legge, Director of Opera at the Royal Academy, will head a team which will draw up a short-list of some 25 singers.

Auditions will be held in London on 24-26 April 2007, and the 25 or so selected singers will be heard by José Cura. He will choose 10-12 singers and work with them in late April and early May 2007.

Then, on 6th May, the public will be able to watch him hold a masterclass with the singers at a venue in South Devon which has yet to be named.

Finally, on 7th May, the singers will give a public concert of their work and José Cura will select a winner.

Over the same weekend, 5-6 May, Anthony Legge is running a repetiteur course in Devon.

Cura himself will not be singing at the events in South Devon.

"He's giving us seven days of his time, which is fantastic," said Linda. "We're advertising nationally and locally and I've contacted major agents and opera companies, so I've had some names from them.

"If we can make this successful, we think we can get him here to do it as an even bigger national event."

Starting from scratch has been hard work for New Devon Opera, and Linda is hoping the company can build on the start it has made.

"So far things have gone well. We are developing an audience base - we have a mailing list of around 400 people - and the reception we have received at shows is fantastic.

"Next year, we are doing Tosca and we've been invited to perform in Buckinghamshire for that.

"We need to be able to show what we can do in order to get grants - what we're doing is a risk and it's an expensive business.

"We're taking it step by step. But we are building on the start we've made."



José Cura, the Return of the Prodigal Son



June 2007


He will star in the opera Samson and Dalila


One of the main items of interest in the current classical music schedule of the city of Buenos Aires is without a doubt the return of one of its prodigal sons, the Rosarino tenor José Cura, after an eight year absence from the country. Living in Europe for the past 16 years (currently in Spain), Cura’s name is synonymous with success in portraying the dramatic characters of the operatic repertoire, something which naturally turns him into one of the most sought-after tenors in the world and one of the most popular figures in his field. It also doesn’t hurt that on top of a phenomenal voice, José Cura has an excellent physique for his type of role as well as an exceptional professional foundation, which is both complete and multi-faceted. The arrival in Buenos Aires of one of opera’s most dazzling international opera stars puts the seal of the best in the world of opera on the Teatro Colón’s season with a role that is custom-made for him: the character of Samson in the Romantic-era opera “Samson and Dalila”. Together with Cecilia Díaz and the cast, chorus and orchestra of the Teatro Colón, the tenor will appear tomorrow evening at 8:30 in a concert version at the Coliseo.


The Titan of Opera


In the fifteen years of his successful international career, José Cura has frequented not only the most prestigious halls and theaters in the classical music world (Met, Covent Garden, LaScala, Opera National in Paris, Staatsoper in Vienna, Hamburg and Zurich, and the Deutsche Oper in Berlin among others) but has also been present on remote stages, has visited countries far removed from the traditional circuit, has conquered exotic audiences as to opera and untiringly carried the art of music and theater to inconceivable corners of the world. At his side sing the most glamorous divas and direct the most celebrated conductors. Parallel to his intense activity in the theater (as conductor, singer and régisseur), he exploits his ample qualities as communicator and showman with surprising ease, offering recitals and shows—some of them on outdoor stages in front of thousands of people—in which he combines singing with orchestral conducting (in an original format he himself calls ‘half and half’), something that has earned him both the criticism from the most conservative sectors of the music media and the admiration of his fans, as well as an  unusual popularity for an artist in the classical genre.


When José Cura began to be mentioned on the front pages of the music media of the world, the legendary figure of Samson was among the first roles to be associated with the name and image of the Argentine tenor. Not only the qualities of the timbre and the character of his voice, but also the exuberance of his personality, his charisma and imposing stage presence permitted him to be proclaimed—along with other great characters that he portrays with equal empathy such as Otello, Canio, Don Carlo and Turridu—the ideal interpreter of the biblical hero for several generations.


Some years have elapsed since then; quite to the contrary of what often happens with a career that takes off too quickly and with excessive fanfare only to become exhausted by the media frenzy, all the predictions that accompanied José Cura’s spectacular international rise have come to fruition in a career beyond measure. In the following interview, the tenor refers to different interpretative aspects of the role of Samson.


---What does one do about the voice with respect to the traditional classification for Samson?


---If one would like to interpret Samson in the spirit which is strictly understood as stylized French music, in a historic sense, we would have to start with a voice that I would not say is light but one with much less attack. It is very different to do the role as it was conceived in around 1890. If we want to, on the other hand, perform a modern Samson in light of the acoustic problems and issues that we live with, the difference in the conception as to the vocal aspect is enormous. More than relegating the role to a classification based on the number of decibels produced, I prefer to think of it on the basis of psychological coloring which is (to be sure) a determining factor in the profile of the character.


---What are those acoustic problems?


---The size of the theater today is enormous. Then, there is the fact that the orchestra sounds very loud due to the harmonic density of the modern instruments. A third point, (and) a more dramatic one, is the rise of the diapason. The majority of the operas which we perform today were written between 1800 and 1900. During that period, the diapason oscillated between 432 and 435 cycles, which means that, when we compare it with the diapason that we use today, which is almost at 445, even up to 450 cycles, we have an increase in the tone by a third, even up to a half tone. In short, this has caused an important modification in how we sing as compared to the past. The logic of these conditions causes the vocalizing (singing) of certain dramatic characters to be awarded to voices which are much stronger and more robust.


---With respect to the tessitura in which Samson is written, it is for a dark and baritonal tenor who sings most of the opera in the middle register (medio-grave). How do you decide the delivery of the high notes over the orchestra and chorus?


---With a high note that has much density (spessore), that is broad and large. We are talking about a mythological hero who bases his entire legend on his physical power; therefore, it would be ridiculous for the character to sing these notes with the same sound value as, for example, a high note of the tenor in “La bohème”. The more beautiful and correct the sound is, the more it lacks dramatic intensity. This is the great vocal challenge of Samson and of all the roles of the dramatic tenor in general.


---What is your perception of the character with respect to vocal brilliance?


---Samson has clearly defined moments in which he is able to shine for very different reasons. In the first act, he is aggressive, a warrior of the Old Testament. In the second act, the aggression changes to sensuality and extreme insecurity in relation with himself, with God and with the feminine. In the third act, which is spiritually the most interesting, is where Samson redefines himself.  In the entire first part of this act, Samson ought to sing media voce. In the second part this changes on the other hand, and we have again another type of singing. It is the moment of redemption understood within the framework of a culture that existed 1500 years before Christ. The possibilities to shine are extensive and manifold.


---Does this role give you a feeling of satisfaction?


---Very much so! Samson is one of the roles that I am indebted to the most for really making me shine on stage. He is one of the characters that have given me the greatest satisfaction throughout of my career.


Translation: Monica B.



Two Rosario Musicians

La Capital

Marcelo Menichetti

Tenor José Cura and pianist Eduardo Delgado will offer a concert today at 2100, at Auditorio Fundación Astengo, Mitre 754. The Rosarinos artists will be commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Mozarteum Argentino Filial Rosario.

On this occasion they will present a program that includes the spiritual “Were You There”, “Cantata” by John Carter, “For a dead infant” as a piano solo, “Soneto IV” by Carlo Guastavino and the works of Gabriel Fauré “Prison” and “Chason dámour”.  After ‘Balada en sol menor Op. 23” by Maurice Ravel for solo piano, “Sonetos”,  seven musical works composed by José Cura based on the poems of Pablo Neruda, will be presented.

In the second part of the concert the artists will perform “Nocturno” by Alberto Muzzio and “Canción del árbol del olvido” by Alberto Ginastera, with more selections from the works of  Carlos Guastavino including “Se equivocó la paloma”, “La rosa y el sauce”, “Campanilla”, “Canción de perico”, “El único camino”, Elegía para un gorrión” and “Canción del carretero”. Finally there will be the “Canción a la bandera” by Héctor Panizza and, for solo piano, “Sonatina” by Carlos Guastavino and “Adiós Nonino” by Astor Piazzolla.

During rehearsal prior to the presentation, the artists talked with La Capital about their pleasure at the opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of the Mozarteum Argentino Filial Rosario and at the same time to perform together in front of their hometown.  “This recital is the first time we have worked together,” declared Delgado.  “Before this, we did the CD Anhelo (1999), in which the guitarist Ernesto Bitetti also participated,” he explained.

Cura performed a series of “Samsons” in concert version at the Teatro Coliseo in Buenos Aires that received very good reviews.  “There is great payback in the spectacle and more than anything else the emotions of singing with all my companions from the Colón after an absence of eight years,” explains the singer, “created an emotional charge of such great energy that it shocked the audience.”

Delgado is happy to share the celebration:  "I feel very honored to do this with José, because he is an international figure who performs in all the great theaters in the world and the chosen schedule is of our music, which is so beautiful,” he said.

The pianist, who has recorded all the work of Alberto Ginastera and is now preparing for a concert he will give in London next November, emphasized that next to Cura, the star of the performance will be "a concert of chamber music, not of song and piano.  The piano and the voice become two instruments in dialogue and with José I have a very special musical understanding". 

Both musicians reveal a state of mind with a degree of anxiety they do not try to hide.  “We artists are like football players because when we enter the field, it doesn’t matter to the people that we have played well and scored ten goals before:  it is what you do for them now,” Cura explains.   



Carmen pursinge



Cristiana Visan

10 Septembrie 2007

Melomanii care au mers simbata seara la Opera au avut parte de un spectacol de zile mari.

Opera Nationala din Bucuresti a oferit simbata, in cadrul Festivalului ,,Enescu’’, un spectacol din repertoriul propriu, insa cu patru invitati din strainatate, iar numele lui José Cura a umplut cele aproape o mie de locuri din sala.

Daca multi se asteptau sa vada o “Carmen” mai romantica, reprezentatia de simbata i-a luat prin surprindere. Viziunea lui Cura, in absolut acord cu cea a sopranei israeliene Hadar Halevy, a facut din opera lui Bizet un spectacol pasional si pasionant, punind un accent particular asupra personajului Don José. Din punctul lui de vedere, ilustrat cu brio la Bucuresti, “Carmen”, desi e o opera franceza, surprinde tocmai prin violenta personajelor sale din lumea colorata a Sevillei.

Don José al lui Cura este un barbat arogant, insa in acord cu tipologia fireasca a acelor vremuri, in care atitudinile machiste nu puteau tolera cu usurinta un comportament atit de liber si de puternic precum cel al lui Carmen, care il umileste, il seduce, il fascineaza si il mai umileste o data pe soldatul spaniol: pentru Cura, crima din finalul operei nu este un act de gelozie, ci raspunsul firesc al unui barbat puternic in fata umilintei la care a fost supus. Doua scene in particular le-au taiat rasuflarea spectatorilor: cea din actul al treilea, cind Don José este chemat de Micaela la capatiiul mamei sale suferinde - violenta cu care Cura o trage dupa el pe Halevy aproape ca se citea pe chipul sopranei - si scena finala a crimei, cind intensitatea interpretarii sale a sters orice urma de teatralitate, de parca nervul si singele clocotitor ale lui Don José ar fi adus pe scena, cumva, singele acelei Carmen pe care a ucis-o.

Carmen insasi nu e un personaj romantic, iar Hadar Halevy a facut o demonstratie de forta la Opera din Bucuresti: Carmen e nu atit senzuala, cit sexuala, e carnala la limita obscenitatii, eliminind posibilitatea unui rafinament care nu si-ar avea locul la o tiganca lucratoare intr-o manufactura de tutun. Una dintre revelatiile serii pentru publicul bucurestean - sau poate chiar una dintre revelatiile festivalului - a fost soprana Nicoleta Ardelean, care a cistigat aplauze atit la Gala de deschidere de pe 1 septembrie, cit si in rolul Micaelei din “Carmen”.



Callas in varianta masculina canta la Opera Nationala

8 Septembrie 2007
Mihaela Soare, Radio Romania Muzical

Unul dintre cei mai bine cotati tenori ai momentului, Jose Cura, va evolua in aceasta seara, de la ora 18.00, in „Carmen” de Bizet, la Opera Nationala.

Cu un fizic de veritabil gladiator, in varsta de 45 de ani, argentinianul Jose Cura a fost numit de presa internationala „o creatie a teatrului, o versiune masculina a Mariei Callas”.

Cariera sa a inceput odata cu parasirea locului natal, Rosario, din Argentina, si stabilirea la Verona, unde a debutat la aproape 30 de ani. Treptat, vocea sa puternica, cu accente dramatice si temperamentul exploziv l-au impus intr-un vast repertoriu. I-a interpretat pe Othello, Turandot, Stiffelio, Samson si, acum, il intruchipeaza pe „Don Jose”, in „Carmen”.

Cure a tinut joi seara un moment de reculegere in memoria tenorului Luciano Pavarotti, in deschiderea concertului sustinut de Orchestra din Paris la Sala Palatului. Spectacolul din aceasta seara se anunta a fi unul dintre marile evenimente ale actualei editii a Festivalului „George Enescu”.

Reporter: Cativa dintre partenerii cu care cantati la Bucuresti sunt romani si inca nu ii cunoasteti. Cat de confortabil este acest lucru?
Jose Cura
: Poate fi dificil, intr-adevar, dar suntem norocosi intr-o privinta: avem o limba comuna, si aceasta este Muzica. Asa ca putem comunica foarte usor chiar daca nu vorbim aceeasi limba, nu avem aceleasi obiceiuri, aceleasi gusturi, chiar daca suntem personalitati diferite; dar stam pe scena, facem aceeasi muzica, devenim acelasi grup. Asta e minunat in a face muzica.

Nu va place sa fiti comparat cu alti tenori. „Versiunea masculina a lui Callas” va satisface insa mai mult?
Bineinteles, este un alt mod de a compara. Nu se compara vocile, ceea ce este ceva... stupid, ci accesibilitatea pentru scena. Asta este ceva foarte diferit si ma face fericit.

Ce le spuneti tinerilor la cursurile de masterclass pe care le sustineti? Care sunt lucrurile cele mai importante, in sens bun sau rau, la care sa se astepte?
In primul rand, sa respecte adevarul, in acest sens sa evolueze. Nu este nimic urat pentru un artist decat sa joace prefacandu-se. Daca nu ai o prestatie in sensul realitatii sentimentelor, nimeni nu te vede. Poti sa ai cea mai buna tehnica, cea mai frumoasa voce, dar nimic nu se va intampla.

Publicul isi doreste ca un mare artist sa fie mereu perfect. Cat de dificil este sa rezisti unei asemenea cereri?
Este imposibil sa rezisti, asta face parte din joc. Un lucru bun, in cazul meu, este ca nu am fost niciodata perfect, dar ca sunt mereu profund implicat. Este adevarat ca oamenii asteapta mult de la tine pentru ca esti faimos si, de fiecare data cand esti in scena, ei doresc sa fii... in top, cel mai bun. Dar asta nu este mereu posibil, pentru ca esti.. o fiinta umana!


José Cura: “Piata muzicala e ca un supermarket, iar noi sintem ca o pasta de dinti”


Christiana Visan

 8 Septembrie 2007

 Intr-o intilnire cu presa dinaintea spectacolului “Carmen” de simbata seara, Jose Cura (foto) a declarat ca mare lucru nu stia despre Festivalul “Enescu” si i-a invitat pe romani sa-si promoveze mai bine valorile.

E considerat cel mai electrizant tenor al momentului. A escaladat destul de repede ierarhia cintaretilor in voga prin anii nouazeci si marketingul teatrelor din metropolele culturale n-a intirziat sa-l promoveze drept noul sex-simbol al scenei de opera. E unul dintre putinii cintareti de opera ai caror admiratori sint de ordinul milioanelor – in cazul particular al lui Cura, vorbim despre o galerie cu o majoritate covarsitoare de admiratoare. In prima sa zi de repetitii la Bucuresti, tenorul a acceptat sa participe la o intilnire cu presa, ferindu-se pe cit posibil (asemeni multor alte staruri cu program calculat la singe) de posibilele obositoare interviuri. Cu toata faima lui Cura, organizatorii nu se asteptau ca jurnalistii sa ia cu asalt Foaierul galben al Operei Nationale, unde era programata intilnirea cu tenorul. Dar cum socoteala facuta bine din timp nu se potriveste intotdeauna cu mersul stirilor, s-a intimplat ca joi sa nu fie o zi ca oricare alta, ci tocmai ziua in care intra in fabrica mondiala de stiri disparitia celui mai popular tenor al ultimilor 15 ani. Asadar, un public de media ceva mai numeros pentru discutia pregatita la Opera.

Tenorul le-a facut insa o surpriza, atit organizatorilor, cit si jurnalistilor, anuntind in ultimul moment ca vine insotit de soprana Hadar Halevy, interpreta rolului Carmen, si de dirijorul Mario di Rossi. “Are cineva biografiile lor, cum facem?”, se aud vreo doua voci mai tinere, pregatite sa dea ochii cu un singur star. “Si cu traducerea cum ramane?”, vor sa stie niste voci mai putin tinere, care tocmai au aflat ca engleza a fost declarata limba de referinta a discutiei. Nu mai e mult timp oricum, Jose Cura isi face aparitia pe holul Operei, de-abia iesit dintr-un interviu cu televiziunea nationala. Dupa unii e mai inalt decat s-ar fi zis din poze, iar altii insista ca-i mai scund. In orice caz, nimeni n-a putut sa-i faca vreodata o descriere etnica lui Cura: matematic, e 25% italian, 25% spaniol si 50% libanez, dar pentru el, ce conteaza e tara in care s-a nascut, adica Argentina. Incepe in sfirsit si conferinta, lumea isi ocupa locul in sala, cu ochii pe cei trei artisti straini si pe Catalin Ionescu-Arbore, directorul Operei din Bucuresti. Cuvintul de inceput ii apartine Valentinei Sandu-Dediu, sefa Biroului de Presa al festivalului, care cere un moment de reculegere in memoria lui Pavarotti: o tacere de onoare, acompaniata de scartiiturile podelei pe care se strecoara citiva fotografi, grabiti sa prinda expresiile care mai de care mai solemne de pe chipurile celor prezenti.

Dupa cum era de asteptat, prima intrebare vine cu o mica intirziere de invitare reciproca la luarea cuvintului, si nu e deloc una surpriza: cum e cu Pavarotti. Intrebarea in sine nu-i ia pe neasteptate nici pe restul jurnalistilor din sala, nici pe tenorul care trebuie sa raspunda, dar faptul ca e primul subiect al intilnirii nu pare sa-l faca prea fericit: da, e o zi trista pentru comunitatea artistica, dar trebuie sa fim atenti sa nu ne folosim de Luciano doar ca sa facem stiri. “Ca om, sint fericit ca suferinta lui a luat sfirsit, de aceasta boala necrutatoare a murit si mama sotiei mele si un bun prieten”. Cum o declaratie mai metaforica e inca asteptata, Cura isi joaca bine rolul: “Daca Dumnezeu voia un inger, acum are una dintre cele mai bune voci cintind pentru el”. Punct. Gata cu Pavarotti. Urmeaza o mica schimbare de limba: se trece la spaniola, spre nemultumirea multora dintre cei prezenti. Cura raspunde linistit: daca vorbeste limba sa materna, are faima de a raspunde la intrebari cu accentul folosit de interlocutor. In cazul de fata, unul cit se poate de spaniol: da, e pentru prima data in Romania si spera ca nu va fi si ultima si nu, nu a apucat sa vada Bucurestiul – la urma urmei, e prima zi de repetitii si pe deasupra, si ziua mortii lui Pavarotti, deci nici pe departe o zi de bun augur pentru “umblat hai-hui prin oras”. Nu, nu-i cunoaste pe artistii alaturi de care va evolua: il stia pe dirijor, conational de-ai lui, dar pe minunata soprana a intilnit-o aici pentru prima oara.

Urmatorul interlocutor mai face o schimbare de limba, adresindu-i-se in italiana (alte oftaturi din sala). Cura ii raspunde imediat cum stau lucrurile cu artistii care se incumeta sa plece in turnee: sint putini, ca nu toata lumea poate, si oricum o fac pentru ca e vorba de opere cunoscute, altfel nici el n-ar incerca sa porneasca la drum cu un rol nou. “Carmen” ii e familiara de peste douazeci de ani, de cind a debutat ca dirijor, in Argentina, cu aceasta opera, pina in ’96, cind si-a facut debutul european ca Don Jose. “O stiu deja pe toate partile, pot ajunge cu cinci minute inainte de spectacol, intru si ma apuc imediat de Don Jose”. Cura crede in forta personajului si mai putin in necesitatea de a te adapta la sali si la distributii noi: “Pe o scena normala, doar n-o sa dai peste vreo farfurie zburatoare sau nu stiu ce chestii nebunesti, asa ca tu nu trebuie sa faci altceva decit sa-ti intri in rol, sa fii personajul”. Nu crede nici in nevoia de a pune lucrurile la punct prin repetitii de sincronizare: “Daca in cariera mea de 30 de ani as fi facut totul la fel, as fi deja un dezastru”.

Cura e un tenor de show si se vede: de data aceasta, scena e o conferinta de presa si si-a intrat imediat in rol. Arta, la urma urmei, e tot o afacere, dupa cum bine spune: “Piata muzicala e ca un supermarket, iar noi sintem ca o pasta de dinti. Unii dintre noi sint mai ceruti decit altii pentru ca unele paste de dinti sint mai bune decit altele”. Despre Enescu nu stia mai nimic inainte sa fie invitat la aceasta editie: desigur, nu vorbim despre compozitor, ci despre festival. Holender ii e prieten si a acceptat cu drag sa vina la Bucuresti, dar nu lasa mingea la fileu si da replica de onoare jurnalistilor romani: “Asta inseamna ca trebuie sa va faceti festivalul mai international; aveti muzicieni buni, faceti-i cunoscuti”.

E greu sa nu-l placi: are carisma, o dezinvoltura latina uluitoare si e in stare sa vorbeasca despre orice. Nu crede in prieteniile dintre tenori: ele exista, fireste, ca doar e si el prieten la catarama cu Marcelo Alvarez, argentinian de-ai lui, si cu Roberto Alagna. “Cu Marcelo iesim uneori, mancam ca doi porci si bem, desi el ma intrece, dar asta e, sintem argentinieni si cind vine vorba despre carne si vin bun...” Asadar, exista prieteni precum Pavarotti-Domingo-Carreras si intre tinerii tenori? Prieteniile sint ceva personal, muzica e insa o profesie: “Sintem toti colegi. Nu poti fi dusmanul soldatilor din tabara ta, dar presa creeaza uneori un antagonism teoretic pentru a vinde mai mult. Se vinde mai bine daca spui ca Jose Cura il uraste pe Alvarez, Alvarez il uraste pe Alagna, decit sa spui ca sint buni colegi”.

Se considera mai mult dirijor si compozitor decit cintaret. A studiat ani buni asa ceva inainte sa-si dea seama ca are o voce buna si ca-i va fi mult mai usor sa-si cistige un loc de cinste ca tenor. Il intreb ce a facut cu Recviemul Pacii, compus acum vreo douazeci de ani, dupa incheierea Razboiului Malvinelor, in care a fost cit pe-aici sa fie inrolat. “Ar fi trebuit sa am premiera in 2007, ca se implinesc 24 de ani de la terminarea razboiului, insa n-am gasit nici o institutie argentiniana dispusa sa ma sprijine”. Romanii ar spune: “tipic”. Nici o problema, si argentinienii spun la fel, iar autocritica lor patriotica e depasita numai de orgoliul pierderii unui conflict absurd: Cura vrea sa puna pe scena o opera cu doua coruri, unul britanic si unul argentinian. Usor de zis, greu de facut: ranile razboiului s-au inchis de mult, dar inca supureaza - la urma urmei, Malvinele britanice (Falklands) nu sint nici acum recunoscute ca teritoriu englezesc de numeroase state ONU. In orice caz, Cura nu-si pierde speranta pentru compozitia lui de suflet: “N-o s-o pun in scena altundeva daca nu pot in Argentina, dar sper macar sa apuc s-o fac inainte sa mor”.

Revine la limba engleza si revine la “Carmen”. Isi descrie personajul cu aceeasi pasiune cu care il interpreteaza. Nu crede intr-o “Carmen” romantata: “Opera a fost revolutionara la vremea aceea, iar Carmen a fost prima feminista. Ginditi-va, vorbim despre personaje colorate, din Sevilla acelei vremi: femeile acelea nu umbla dezbracate pentru ca sint curve, ci pentru ca acolo sint 50 de grade la umbra, au hainele umezite de transpiratie, iar asta se traduce printr-o mare confruntare sexuala”. Face un discurs feminist cu atit mai aprins cu cit el insusi e, dupa cum se declara in gluma acum citiva ani, un “mascul impunator”. Da, “Carmen” are un mesaj pe care lumea nu vrea sa-l vada astfel: ca femeia “poate fi libera, iar barbatul, un idiot”. Si, ca sa lamurim putin ce vrea si ce nu vrea lumea, declara opera lui Bizet drept “o mare opera, problema e ca-i prea cunoscuta”. Adica nu putini se ridica sa se proclame specialisti si cunoscatori.

Vine si momentul pentru ultima intrebare. In afara de Cura, ceilalti doi n-au mai colaborat cu artisti romani. Tenorul a cintat in “Traviata”, alaturi de Angela Gheorghiu, si a ramas impresionat de Leontina Vaduva, cu care a facut un documentar in ’96 despre viata lui Puccini. Si pentru ca trebuie sa incheie cu o gluma, prezinta povestea astfel: “In scena cind ea murea in “Boema”, ma misca pina la lacrimi. Regizorul a venit sa-mi spuna ca ar da mai bine daca as plinge, dar i-am zis: nu trebuie sa-mi ceri asa ceva, ca fata asta ma face sa pling tot timpul”.

Asadar, carismatic, vibrant, cuceritor. Pentru cine si-a luat deja bilet la reprezentatia cu “Carmen” de miine seara, satisfactia e pe jumatate garantata: Jose Cura a fost, pina acum, un Don Jose aproape perfect pe multe scene metropolitane, asa ca ropotele de aplauze la Opera din Bucuresti vor fi, probabil, prelungite.





Upcoming Performances



The Bohemians Return to Stockholm!

“A roaring success…” – Financial Times


“Imaginative, with good humor and a lot of charm….” SvD


     “Nordic Bohemians convinces…”  SvD





Watch the original cast and José Cura discuss the opera and production





First Wagner - February 2017

Sung in French



General Population Tickets go on sale in September

Info Page:  Click Here














José Cura is Peter Grimes

Bonn - May - July 2017

A José Cura Production

(note:  José Cura will not perform the title role in June performances)



Tickets Now Available

Info Page:  Click Here

Web Site appears to be in German only












Calendar 2016







7, 10, 17


Hessisches Staatstheater



21, 26, 29


Gran Teatro del Liceu





Gran Teatro del Liceu



10 & 11

Concert:  Symphonic

Smetana Hall Municipal House



 11 & 12

 Concert:  Symphonic (includes Magnificat by Bach and Cura)

St. Nicholas Cathedral

České Budějovice


19, 27


 Grosses Festspielhaus



23, 26


Deutsche Opera




Otello in Concert / Cura conducts

AUDI Arena  



4, 9, 12, 15, & 24

Fanciulla del west

Hamburgische Staatsoper GmbH





  Cankarjev dom (cultural and congress centre)




Symphonic Concert

 Saint Blaise's Church




Gala Concert

 Saint Blaise's Church (outside)




Exhibit / Signing - Esponténeas

 Sponza Palace (Atrium)



23, 25, 27 & 29


Opera royal de Wallonie



1 & 4


Opera royal de Wallonie



19 & 20


Smetana Hall Municipal House



23, 26, 30






Concert (LatinAmerican Music)

Congresshalle (matinee)




Concert (LatinAmerican Music)

Portzamparc's Philharmonie Grand Salon



27 & 30

Fanciulla del west

Wiener Staatsoper



3 & 6

Fanciulla del west

Wiener Staatsoper



7 & 8

Concert: Symphonic (conductor)

Smetana Hall Municipal House




Concert: Symphonic (conductor)

 Auditori Enric Granados



Calendar 2017








28, 31

La Bohème (production)




4, 7, 10, 16, 19

La Bohème (production)




19, 22, 25, 28


Salle Garnier Opera de Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo


8, 9

Concert:  Symphonic

(Ecco Homo)

Smetana Hall Municipal House



7, 10, 13, 26 

Peter Grimes

Theater Bonn



3, 7, 9, 12, 14

La Bohème (production)




16, 20, 22, 25, 27, 29


Opera royal de Wallonie



8, 15 

Peter Grimes

Theater Bonn



4, 5

Concert:  Symphonic

Smetana Hall Municipal House



13, 14

Concert:  Symphonic

Smetana Hall Municipal House









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


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Last Updated:  Sunday, November 27, 2016  © Copyright: Kira