Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director
José Cura Charmed the Nowy Sacz Audience
10 May 2015
[Excerpts / Gist]
The 18th International Festival of Vocal Arts Ady Sari was officially opened! One of the most important musical events of the festival, a concert, was held yesterday (9 May) in the parish of St Helena’s in Nowy Sacz. More than a thousand fans of classical music gathered in the Church of the Holy Cross, where conductor José Cura, along with the female soloists, the choir and the orchestra [bewitched] the audience.
Both adults and children attended, a fact that was highlighted by José Cura who, before the concert began, invited the children to sit side by side closest to the orchestra. “Good evening!” he welcomed all in Polish, then continued jokingly in English, “Be warned that the Symphony you are about to hear is very long. It is best to find a place to sit, or at least to lean up against.”
José Cura led the Beethoven Academy Orchestra, the Polish Radio Choir, the Górecki Chamber Choir and singers Urška Arlič Gololičič (soprano) and Malgorzata Walewska (mezzo-soprano) in the Gustav Mahler work. The Second Symphony in C Minor, the Resurrection, resounded throughout the church, the space best designed for it. And although the place is naturally dedicated to this type of concert, at the same time it presented considerable challenges for the artists. Part of the orchestra was not on the main altar, but also in the choir and sacristy. Despite the difficulties caused by the by the musical complexities and size, everything went quite perfectly. It was a real treat for the senses.
The Resurrection consists of five parts, each of which moves in a different way. In the first part, the “Allegro maestoso,” we are dealing with the foundation for the entire work; you can sense the drama of the situation and the seriousness [of the theme] is introduced. […] The culmination is in the final movement, which produces an amazing sound impression.
The audience rewarded the audience with long applause at the conclusion. It was definitely successful and at the same time a very uplifting beginning to the start of the Festival. It will remain in our memory for a long time.
“Mahler symphony is monumental form and wording - about 80 minutes of music performed by more than 180 people – a work difficult to interpret, requiring great skills and knowledge from the conductor—but not only from the conductor.
The interpretation of José Cura was in delightful proportions, with attention paid to extracting the richly textured melodies and instrumental dynamics.
In this embodiment, it was everything it should be; from the huge forte to piani, from shattering drama to lightness and fun. Although it is a dramatic work in that the last part is a musical vision of the Last Judgment, it is in fact optimistic...even in the words used in the song: "I will die to live."
This performance would not have been as good as it was if it had not been for the great performance of the musicians, the singers, and the pianist. The conductor seemed aware of this and during the long applause for the performance he thanks the various groups of performers, presenting each to the audience.The last gesture of José Cura was very symbolic: the conductor raised his score so that no one in the audience had any doubt that the applause was primarily for the wonderful composer.”
Vocal Arts Competition
Seventy young singers from 11 countries will take part in the XVI International Vocal Art Competition, Ada Sari, which begins on Saturday (9 May) and will last until 16 May. The winner will receive five thousand euro.
The competition for young singers is the most important part of the eighteenth Vocal Arts Festival Ada Sari. The program will also include two major concerts. The first of them - Symphony in C minor, "Resurrection" by Gustav Mahler, under the direction of Jose Cura - will be held in the Church of the Holy Cross and will be preceded by the inauguration on Saturday of the festival. The second - "Little solemn Mass" (La petite messe solenelle) by Giaocchino Rossini and conducted by Maciej Tworek - will be held on May 14 in the Basilica of St. Margaret's.
As announced at Tuesday's press conference by the festival's organizing office manager Liliana Olech, singers from Belarus, China, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, the USA, Great Britain, Italy and - for the first time - from India and Turkey will compete for the 5,000 Euro prize. The largest group are students and graduates of Polish music academies.
A 10-person international jury will indicate the winners in both male and female categories. The award ceremony and winners' concert will take place on May 16.
This year's artistic director is singer Malgorzata Walewska, who replaces the festivals originator, Professor Helena Lazarska.
Walewska stressed that the festival contest is intended primarily for young singers, giving them the chance to develop thier talent as well as the opportunity to meet people who can help them in their career. "I deliberately avoid the word "success,"because for me success is a consequence, not an end. If you strive for excellence, (...) to be a better artist, (...) this success comes, even if it is not successful in the [why some might describe it] butit still is a success for us - because we do it, what we love and what we find great joy in doing," said artistic director.
The guest of the festival is Argentine conductor José Cura. According to him, success should not think only as a moment of triumph, but also as a "continuation". "We all want to succeed, but not all are ready to take responsibility for this success. We focus on triumph, not on what will happen next. It seems to me that is one of our most serious diseases. Everyone wants to be successful immediately, without any responsibility, " said the Argentinean, who drew attention to the value of such places as the Academy of Music in Krakow. "In such places, young people can develop, are supported and encouraged."
Cura said that during the competition the judges evaluate not only the moments in the show but really assess whether artists have the potential, if they can develop after the competition. "In my youth I saw a lot of competitions and I know many people who won them, but at this point they do not have an artistic career. It is not enough so to win the contest, The important thing is what happens next," noted the Argentinean.
6 May 2015
“I know what I have planned, but making music is like making love. I still have not met my lover, which is the Orchestra. I have to make sure all my fantasy will be the same fantasies as the orchestra’s. I encourage you to enjoy the show. I share with you my love. You can either accept it or reject it,” world-famous Argentine opera star tenor José Cura said during the press conference. The masterpiece that is Gustav Mahler’s Symphony in C minor, ‘Resurrection,” will start the 18the International Festival of Vocal Art Competition, Ady Sari. Under the baton of the Argentine Cura, 184 artists will present the great spectacle in the Holy Cross Church. The consert will inaugurate a series of vocal auditions; listed as participants are 70 talented singers from 11 countries.
José Cura: Art Today is not only a Calling but a Business
9 May 2015
Today you do not need to be great to become famous, says the prominent Argentine conductor and singer José Cura, a special guest at the Festival Ada Sari in Nowy Sacz.09.05.2015
I think that today during the concert we will have the opportunity to listen to incredible music but for me it will be first of all a human experience. For such an idealist as I am, this is a dream that now meets. I have the opportunity to work with people who look at you with light in their eyes, says Cura
Cura will lead the first concert of the festival, the Second Symphony in C minor (Resurrection) by Gustav Mahler, which will be performed Saturadya evening at the Church of the Holy Cross. “Mahler was one of the most dramatic symphonist. It’s going to be a theatrical performance, which means that it will engage the audience emotionally,” the Argentine explained during a press conference in Krakow.
Art as a Business
He also confessed that he values Mahler for the fact that his music can be conducted in a number of ways. “I love Mahler because he is not a tyrant; there is no indication as to the meter, so really, every person is able to understand his symphony in ten different ways, depending not only on the personality of the conductor but also depending on the moment,” he stressed.
According to Cura, events like the Festival Ady Sari in Nowy Sacz—when art is not only a vocation and passion but also a business—because they promote a valuable culture for young talent that allows them to become great and so famous.
The 52 year old Cura admitted that he would not know how to start a career today, because “we have lost the difference between being famous and being great.”
Artistic Maturity Takes Time
“The rules that prevail in this world are quite different than the world in which my generation began. Then to become a famous figure was a big challenge.
“And to become famous the effort was so big that in the process we also became good artists. But today to become famous is very easy. Just put some sh*t on YouTube and you see what happens. Which means that to be famous it is no longer necessary to be good. We have a lot of very famous people who have nothing to offer,” the Argentine believes.
To young musicians and accompanist Cura would like to say that to achieve artistic maturity takes time. Discovering and shaping this talent—in his opinion—is not ony the responsibility of the world of culture but also of politicians.
José Cura was born 5 December 1962 in Rosario, Argentina. He made his debut as a conductor at the age of 15 and as a professional singer (tenor) he first appeared at the age of 29. “I love to sing, but I treat it as my occupation, my profession. My vocation has always been conducting,” says the artist. He has performed in Poland with, among others, soprano Ewa Malas-Godlewską and with many times with the Sinfonia Varsovia.
Standing ovation for José Cura’s Mahler
12 May 2015
The audience offered the artists a long, standing ovation after Saturday's opening concert of the eighteenth and sixteenth International Festival of Vocal Art Competition: Ady Sari.
It is not surprising: More than 180 people —the Beethoven Academy Orchestra, the Polish Radio Choir and the Chamber Choir Gorecki— under the daring direction of José Cura’s, presented a monumental Second Symphony in C minor, "Resurrection," by Gustav Mahler in the church of the Holy Cross of St. Helena in Nowy Sacz. The solo parts were sung by mezzo soprano Małgorzata Walewska and soprano Urška Arlič Gololičič.
José Cura, conductor, composer, tenor, famous for his unconventional performances, announced at a press conference that his interpretation would be very theatrical, very full of emotion. And indeed, the great and powerful Symphony in this embodiment did not leave anyone indifferent. With inspiring dimensions, Cura extracted the hidden melodic lines and dynamics from the rich orchestration. In this presentation, everything was as it should be: from the massive forte to a grand piano, from shattering drama to the lightness, fun and even a smile. Although it is a dramatic work, the last part is a musical vision of the Last Judgment which is, in fact, optimistic. This is best shown in the text of the song: "I will die to live."
The conductor, in an extremely easy and direct way, established contact with the audience. From the beginning, as soon he stepped on the podium, he asked those for whom there were no longer enough places to sit on the floor as the concert was to be long; he also invited children to the front. At the end, his last gesture was to lift up the score: yes, that no one in the audience doubt that the applause belong primarily to the composer. However, these theatrics would not be enough to obtain a positive answer, if it would be coming from the great feeling and musical knowledge of a very efficient conductor. A very touching interpretation.
The Tenor with a Baton—the Singer who is not Afraid of Work
9 May 2015
A conversation with the world famous Argentine tenor and conductor José Cura before the inaugural concert of the International Festival of Vocal Arts.ADY Sari in Nowy Sącz
MB: At the peak of your singing career you have decided to
concentrate on conducting.
JC: It is just the opposite! I left conducting and composing, which where my university studies, to become a professional singer. After the years of terrorism, followed by those of repression by military junta and the war with England, we were starting to rebuild a democracy in Argentina. It was not possible then to earn your living as a young composer or as a conductor because there were not too many opportunities to achieve experience. Singing in a professional choir (I entered the one of the School of Teatro Colon at 21), was my only way to obtain a modest but steady salary. Later a travelled to Europe and became the international singer you all know. Today, after a 25 years break I am back to what was my vocation, which is conducting and composing.
MB: In Samson and Dalila from for Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe in 2010 you not only played the title role but also directed the show and created the stage design. Did you want to have total control over the production?
JC: If one day I offered you the opportunity to realize a few things about which you dream, would you say no and refuse?
MB: I would probably take the opportunity.
JC: Exactly. The point is that there are two ways of living with this: One assumes that you are afraid of what people will say. The second assumes that you are afraid of what God will tell you when you die and present to Him not having used the talents he gave you. If I got to have problems, I prefer to have them with people rather than with God. That is my philosophy. People are afraid to take action today because it is associated with an exposure to criticism.
MB: How does it feel working on the other side of the stage?
JC: Great. I am now, also, on the side where I always wanted to be. It is a way back to the beginning of my musical career, but with the advantage of my long-time experience. I know exactly what is possible or not, having been on stage for so long. If given some indications for, say, a stage action and someone tells me that such thing is impossible, then I demonstrate to myself that it can be done. I appreciate honesty in people. If someone admits not being able to do something, then we look for solutions together. But if someone says that something is not possible to put in act, I say, “It’s possible, it’s just that you cannot do it. Accept it and we look for an alternative”.
MB: Apparently you worked as a builder, electrician and carpenter when you were younger.
JC: And not only… but it was a really long time ago (laughs). I did a lot of different work. We do not understand today that the heavier the baggage of our life experience, the richer becomes our language of expression.
MB: I am curious whether this proves useful in creating stage characters.
JC: Of course. We, the artists, tell stories. I sing stories, others write them, or paint them: the more you lived the richer is your storytelling If you have lived in a room, you have little to tell. Thanks to my many experiences, I can tell most of these stories in the first person. It is always possible to sense a falsehood. The strength of a story written by someone who has experienced the situation or at least has painfully dug in it by studying in depth, will always be greater. Likewise, for example, when an aspiring singer creates the character of poor Rudolph in La Bohème. This is an ideal role for someone who has not yet attained success. The work that I had the opportunity to perform as a young man —working at the gym, also as masseur, or distributing the post with my bike, are souvenirs (reminders) for me that I have also been there… You see this scar on my nose? That was from the period when I was a postman. I fell on the sidewalk. Fortunately, no nasal bones were broken because then I probably wouldn’t have become a singer. When I see photos of it after the accident, I consider it an important remembrance; a sign of fate…
MB: And how do you respond to comparisons with Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras?
JC: Such comparisons were heard some 20-25 years ago, when I started to sing. The comparison is wrong, as all comparisons are. Of course, it is always nice to know that in some people’s fantasy I was in such great league… The same happens with football players. We wonder who is better —Pelé, Maradona, Messi? They are all wonderful. Today, however, we live in different times. In the past 10 years, the music industry has changed beyond recognition and comparisons have lost their meaning. A different set of rules govern the world of music business today.
MB: Beginning opera singers, however, have more possibilities.
JC: It is not a matter of possibilities but rather of the general acceleration of the world. If you are prepared to take advantage of this acceleration, good. If not, you may burn your wings, like Icarus. Nowadays is that it’s extremely easy to become famous. People are starting to be known before they become something good.
MB: On the other hand, there are also great artist of whom no one has ever heard and who did not have a chance to break through.
JC: Always. Let’s take the young Mahler. When you read his memoirs, it turns out he was distributing tickets for his concerts among friends just so they would come to hear him. He did not want to conduct to empty chairs. And we are talking about Mahler!
MB: “Song of Love,” recorded with soprano Ewa Malas-Godlewską, was outside the limits of classics but widely popular with the Polish public. Do you think such efforts bring people to classical music?
JC: I don’t think anyone should encourage people to listen to classical music by presenting music that is not classics. It’s kind of like trying to get someone to try pasta by tempting him with a beef steak. What’s the point? On the other hand, it can help when the general public comes to recognize a particular artist.
No matter what you do, whether it be songs of the Beatles or Queen, music of Bach or Mozart, the most important thing is whether you do it right. Therein lays the secret. All classical musicians should also perform pop music and pop musicians should play the classics. It’s good school for everyone. The world of pop gives the artist flexibility, the classics discipline. Just look at a classically trained musician like Freddie Mercury.
Conducting Mahler's Second Symphony is an intellectual and spiritual experience comparable to conduct Bach's mass in Si minor or Beethoven's 9th Symphony: you are not the same after. That is why to remain "simple and humble" as my friend the great Italian conductor, Daniele Gatti said once talking about Mahler, is a very important attitude when having to perform such a master piece. I am so eagerly looking forward to it than I can hardly wait.
On top of that, to think that same evening we will be inaugurating the Ady Sari Festival makes me very proud: with the very sad international depression in everything that affects culture in particular and education in general, these kind of events gives me hope and makes me feel my job still worths the effort of not giving up! -- José Cura
Last Updated: Saturday, February 11, 2017 © Copyright: Kira