Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director




Operas:  Andrea Chénier

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Andrea Chenier BA 2017



Andrea Chénier


Andrea Chénier, London February 1998:  “The Argentinian José Cura is indeed the "fourth tenor", as his previous appearances with the company—Corsaro, Samson et Dalila –have already indicated. Tirelessly robust tone, heroic delivery, even plangent lyricism in the 30-odd seconds where it is required-all are on tap. He also has one or two traditional, rather endearing tenorial mannerisms, like tying one phrase to the next to show off his breath control, and approaching top notes via a springboard about a third down, then hitting the target with ejaculatory triumph. The audience went wild.”  The Times, February 1998

Andrea Chénier, London March 1998:  “His voice rings out powerfully, but he has the ability and taste to curb the volume when restraint is called for, as in ‘Come un bel di’. He is the real thing.” Telegraph, 1998

Andrea Chénier, London March 1998:  “The Royal Opera’s concert performance of Giordano’s Andrea Chénier was notable primarily for José Cura’s big-boned singing of the title role. His dark, baritonal tenor is not a beautiful sound—and he has to sort out some technical flaws, such as sliding up to top notes, and shaky intonation—but for red-blooded Italian verismo opera, he’s clearly the real McCoy.”  Sunday Times, 1 March 1998

Andrea Chénier, London, April 1998:  “Chénier is not all bad. Tenors love it, of course, because they get four arias—one in each act. And they’re expressly designed to incite passion and enflame desire. The audience’s, that is. Love and idealism writ large—does it every time. You could see that José Cura was already well-primed for his task before he rose to it. Riding on the crest of his new-found reputation as the latest ‘fourth tenor”, his poet/patriot stood tall and swarthy, a tenorial colossus who knows he’s made it. The dark, grainy voice was wielded with determination. The big high notes arrived at by way of that curious glottal spring-board effect which effectively adds an appoggiatura to them. There’s an athleticism, an air of sport about his singing which is, of course, in the great tradition of tenor stylists, while his musicianship is apparent in long phrases such as those that grace his second act aria, ‘Credo a una possanza arcane’.”  Independent, 2 February 1998

Andrea Chénier, London, April 1998:  “The role of Chénier is tailor-made for [José Cura]: there is something viscerally exciting about his platform presence.” Opera, May 1998

Andrea Chénier, London, April 1998:  “José Cura’s dark, burnished tenor shaped Chénier’s music with such impassioned fervor that he brought the house down.” The Stage, 12 March 1998

Andrea Chénier, Vienna, February 2004:  “For Argentine tenor José Cura, the part of the French poet who finds his love in Maddalena and leaves this life with her by way of the guillotine is a star role that seems ideally suited for his voluminous tenor voice.  The four arias and two duets play to the skills of the tenor.”   Opera Notes, February 2004

Andrea Chénier, Vienna, February 2004:  “In terms of division of labor in the generation of tenors Roberto Alagna, Marcelo Alvarez, Juan Diego Flórez and Ramón Vargas, José Cura is the man for the powerful: pithy and penetrating high notes are sounded with emphasis. And if the versatile Argentine also get the opportunity to paint the sounds with yearning, painful expression, then bouquets for him are certainly appropriate. However, one hoped that even with a resident of the vocal Champions League singing there will be facets and shades of multi-dimension. This time hope was of no avail. In the depth of this voice remained inflexible in giving a soul to the figure of the poet Chénier.”  Der Standard, 2 February 2004

Andrea Chénier, Vienna, February 2004:  “He provides sold-out houses, delights his admirers around the world and is considered one of the best tenors of his generation: when the Argentine José Cura stands on stage anywhere, frenetic jubilation is inevitable. So it is at the Vienna State Opera, where Cura has now debuted as Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier. No doubt Cura knows what he owes his fans: large gestures, a little poetry, many high notes and a good deal of theatricality, even if the middle register does not always follow the will of the artist.”  Kurier, 2 February 2004

Andrea Chénier, Vienna, February 2004:  “Audience favorite José Cura made his debut in the house on the ring as the title character. He did not quite convince: in the piano passages his tenor sounded somewhat pressed and strained. But when it came to sing the praises of love or revolution, then he sang out powerfully. The audience rewarded the cast with thunderous applause.”  Wiener Zeitung, 11 February 2004  

Andrea Chénier, Vienna, February 2004:  “José Cura tries not to emphasize the macho; as a result he seemed to hold something back in his characterization of Chénier. His voice is heavy, somewhat inflexible, but surely forte. His singing is not always beautiful but his strong, masculine appearance compensates for some technical difficulties in the middle register. Since women are not immune to male beauty, hearts open to him and manifest in ovations. Finally, a tenor who is worth cheering.” AON, 10 February 2004

Andrea Chénier, Vienna, December 2004:  “Even if the aged Andrea Chénier production of the Vienna State Opera bubbled over with the revolutionary verve of a homely early Victorian (Biedermeier) salon: At this reprise on Wednesday as well, one could yearn, suffer, sob—and applaud euphorically, all thanks to dynamic interpretation. Sniff, is this beautiful or what! One minute, this effervescent hormone hydrant named José Cura serenades the marvels of poetry with tenorial ardor and heart rending top notes; the next, he is tossed and carted off to the scaffold as Andrea Chénier, protagonist of the Verismo hit by the same name. And after a deeply emotional duet, his beloved jumps on and joins him of her own free will--because on the other side of the threatening blade of the Paris Guillotine, a new and better world is awaiting both of them. To tell the truth: a death for love which is that consummately emotional is the only thing that could possibly be more alluring and beautiful than the sense of relish imparted by this reprise of Giordano’s tear jerker at the State Opera—in spite of the meter-thick layer of dust which by now weighs heavily on Otto Schenk’s museum-like cloak-and-dagger production that dates from 1981. But that proverbial dust isn’t just blown away—acoustically speaking—by the title hero alone: a spirited Marco Armiliato is in charge of an orchestra whose play is saber-rattling or squeezes the tear ducts—as desired.”  Wiener Zeitung, 4 December 2004

Andrea Chénier, Vienna, December 2004:  “The José-Cura-Festival at the Vienna State Opera continues. After Verdi’s Stiffelio and Canio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, the tenor is now singing the role of Andrea Chénier in Umberto Giordano’s opera by the same name. Cura enriches this worn Otto Schenk production as well, because he acts with a degree of passion and devotion that we know from few other singers. To be sure, there are greater and more elegant voices—but in the totality of his presence (appearance and performance), Cura is excellent, first-class.”  Kurier, 3 December 2004

Andrea Chénier, Bologna, February 2006:  Chénier returns to the Comunale and the audience becomes inflamed due to the potent and charismatic stage personality and voice of José Cura, a tenor who seems destined to elicit mixed and visceral reactions.  […]  José Cura never passes unnoticed: he unleashes unconditional love from the audience but also engenders some visceral hatred. The [response] is something that matters in this time of the globalization of the absolute personality. He categorically dominates and imposes. Call it pure charisma: when the Argentinian tenor takes the stage, it’s useless to deny it, you just watch him. And it is not just for the figure and the strong, passionate, vehement interpretation but rather for the belief that in singing these verismo roles he manages to convey a certain freedom, almost always guided by an unerring musical instinct, which is their raison d‘être. His amber voice, full-bodied in the center, ringing and vibrant in the high notes, flows generously in a cantabile but not always as neatly as would be desired. Cura indulges in flagrant behaviors and takes notes at his pleasure but (also) with the pleasure of the audience who applaud and shout out with unusual participation. Any disagreement is quickly drowned out by the roar of success. In short, while this Chénier is more gallant warrior than delicate poet, it is indisputably fascinating….” L’Opera, January 2006

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

Andrea Chénier, Bologna, February 2006:  “José Cura was a great protagonist. He presented a fresh, smooth voice in top form. The baritone timbre quality of the role perfectly marries with the middle register, although the rise to the high notes, ringing and bright, presented no problem. More detached than shy in the first Act, but always passionate, he brought the house down with 'A dì all' azzurro spazio', a fiery hymn to justice from the true Chénier. 'Sì, fui soldado' contained the right amount of vehemence, while 'Come un bel di maggio' was as poetic as the character. The versatile Argentine artist gave a generous interpretation that delighted the audience.” MundoClasico, 23 January 2006

Andrea Chénier, Japan, June 2006:  “Cura's charm fully blooms in Andrea Chénier.” Mostry Classic, June 2006

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

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, October 2007:  “Andrea Chénier returned in triumph to Barcelona, after more than two decades, to open the season at Gran Teatre del Liceu (seen October. 8). Heading up the stellar cast of the Liceu’s striking production by Philippe Arlaud was a favorite of the Barcelona public—Argentine spinto tenor José Cura. Cura’s love affair with the Liceu started five years ago, when he replaced José Carreras at the last minute as Samson (he was flown in the afternoon of the performance), and continued with a much admired Otello last year. As Chénier, Cura opted for dramatic truth over the virile brio and heroic antics that characterized his previous appearances at the Liceu. His poet was a subdued, confused dreamer overcome by the grave circumstances that flooded his romance and everything else in blood and tears. His choices were dramatically powerful and musically consistent: he placed his highly individual, expressive voice completely at the service of the opera. Even his high notes sounded more convincing and came with greater ease than in last year’s Otello.”  Opera News, January 2008

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “In the first cast, which we saw, José Cura [played the character] as physically slightly embarrassed to find himself in the salon of Madame de Coigny, and as a young man tempted first by an adventure before becoming an ardent lover. Vocally, his emission does not always have the necessary purity and clarity … [but] the court scene and the final act were honorably sung.”  Forum Opéra, October 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “I first heard José Cura sing the opening aria of Chénier in Vienna. He excited me then and he satisfies me now. He fulfilled all the requirements in the duets, he passed with neither grief nor glory ‘Si fui soldado’ in the third act but, on the other hand, did not deserve the approval received after ‘Como un bello día de mayo,’ which seemed more like a windy day in August. He surpassed all the requirements for high notes but lyricism is definitively not his forte.” La Razon, 28 September 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “In the main role, the Argentinian tenor José Cura provided an intense portrait of the poet Andrea Chénier, convincing in the color, the quality and the power of a voice that is produced with extreme skill but with greater emphasis on the dramatic expression of the character rather than vocal refinement or elegance. Voices of this caliber are seldom heard.”  El País, 17 September 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “José Cura was all dedication and passion as Andrea Chénier, driving with mastery his particular dark vocal color and specifically emphasized in the upper register where he showed a dazzling security-- his 'A all'azzurro spazio' was outstanding.”  MundoClasico, 26 October 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “The choice of José Cura as headliner for this production was a no-brainer. This splendid singer and simmering actor has no trouble slipping into the skin of the poet caught by the Terror and beheaded at the age of 32. In triumphant vocal form, Cura appropriated an ideal way with the words of Chénier from ‘Improvviso’ with bronze tones and in temperament as the damaged fawn in the final hours of the rebel poet (a beautiful “Come un bel di di maggio” in the fourth act). He made us believe in his character from beginning to end, moving and credible.”  Scenes Magazine, 29 September 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “Andrea Chénier is an opera to bring out the best in a tenor and José Cura has got the appropriate tone and dense voice to triumph in that role.”  El Mundo, 27 September 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “José Cura possesses the density, the wounded gravity, and the aura of the poet, every part of which he qualifies with a restraint which multiples tenfold his vocal charm. While he has everything needed to move the audience—the beauty of his timbre, his radiant physical appearance, his projection—we regret to see him so underused by a director who does not realize how lucky he is [to have him]...Carlos Alvarez is simply remarkable as Gérard in that he dominates the tessitura and imprecations but only with Cura is he able to come alive on the stage and make his character exist.”  Concert Classics, October 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “Full musical success—especially on the vocal side. Giordano’s Andrea Chénier returned to the Liceu to ovations, with tenor José Cura as head of the cast. Cura was a fully convincing Chénier, here in ideal vocal condition, possessing high Pablo Meléndez-Haddad

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “Arlaud neglects the interpretative aspects of his brilliant cast—in, for example, the emotional stillness of the exceptional tenor José Cura.” La Tetro, 14 October 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “José Cura creates a convincing Andre Chénier who draws applause at the end of the Act I ‘Improvviso.’ A tremendous time thus awaits you if you go to Barcelona.”  Resmusica, October 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “José Cura in the title role, eagerly awaited by the "aficionados" of the upper floors of the Liceu, was fairly and warmly acclaimed.”  WebThea, October 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “Beautiful, with a brilliant timbre, ductile, malleable colors, is the voice of José Cura.”  La Vanguardia, 27 September 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “Three great voices with three great personalities: this is the sine qua non for Andrea Chénier to be effective. And while the Liceu has assembled a remarkable trio of singers, it did not end up being a remarkable evening. José Cura is a paradoxical artist: when he controls his mannerisms and lets his voice sound honestly, the result is extraordinary.  In the case of Chénier, this was not 100% the case but at least there was sensitivity and charisma and in the fourth act all the meat was on the grill.”  Avui, 25 September 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “This historical drama has not been offered at the Liceu since the 1985-1986 season. We have to say it is a hard opera to mount due to the technical difficulties required from the three main characters, constantly carried to the limits of the tessitura. This fact requires great voices and precise vocal technique. On this evening, these expectations were more than exceeded. José Cura is currently the Andrea Chénier of reference, since this is a character whom he has sung from the beginning of his career, and that makes it a part of him when it comes to interpretation. Vocally, he dominated from first note to last and his characterization of the poet was totally natural. His voice filled the auditorium to the last row because of its very peculiar timbre; his tessitura is deep and velvety with brilliant high notes.”  La Porta Classica, 25 September 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  It was a night of contrasts at the Liceu. Andrea Chénier, Umberto Giordano's historical drama set in the French Revolution, opened the season at the Gran Teatro on Tuesday. The title, returning to the program after 22 years, fulfilled only half the expectations created by a stellar casting, the musical direction of Pinchas Steinberg and the promise of a novel staging by Philippe Artaud. The ovations for the singers and the chorus collided with some booing [aimed at] Artaud and to a lesser extent at Steinberg. But except for the final reaction and the interruptions to applaud José Cura (Chénier) and Daniela Dessi (Maddalena de Coigny) after singing the arias ‘Un dì al'azzurro spazio’ and ‘La mamma morta’ or to celebrate their splendid duet that highlighted the pain and happiness of dying together, the performance had a rhythm less passionate than the disturbing history suggested by Luigi Illica’s libretto. The score forces the actors to accept significant vocal and dramatic demands. And the first part (vocals) worked, despite an initial constraint that translated into a certain coldness, but not quite the drama with a stiff Cura playing against a more visceral Dessi.”  El Periodico, 27 September 2007

Andrea Chénier, Barcelona, September 2007:  “The Liceu opened the new season with Andrea Chénier. The most famous opera by Italian composer Umberto Giordano arrived in Barcelona with a stellar cast which included three names who have been at the top of the opera roster for the last decade: the Argentine tenor José Cura, Malaga baritone Carlos Alvarez and Italian soprano Daniela Dessi. José Cura shone fiercely in the story of a poet who lived in the euphoric early days of the French Revolution and died precisely because he was not fanatical enough.”  Telenoticies Catalunya Informació, 26 September 2007





Venue / Year


Come un bel di di maggio

Royal Festival Hall, London


In-theater recording

Andrea Chénier 1998 London Improvviso

Andrea Chénier 1998 London Come un bel di di maggio



Verismo-7 Andrea Chénier


Vienna Staatsoper


In-theater recording (different supporting casts)

Andrea Chénier - 2004 Vienna - 2004 Improvisso

Andrea Chénier - 2004 Vienna - 2004 Improvviso

Andrea Chénier - 2004 Vienna - Come un bel di di maggi

Andrea Chénier - 2004 Vienna -  Come un bel di di maggio

Teatro Communale, Bologna


Off-air recording

Andrea Chénier Bologna 2006 Improvviso

Andrea Chénier Bologna 2006 Come un bel di di maggio

Concert, Rijeka


Off-air recording

Concert Rijeka 2006 - Andrea Chénier Improvviso


Vienna Staatsoper


In-theater recording

Andrea Chénier Vienna 2013 Improvviso

Andrea Chénier Vienna 2013 Come un bel di di maggio



We aren't sure if these will load or not ...

Curtain Call, Andrea Chénier, Vienna, 2013

Rijeka Concert

Bologna AC Act IV rehearsal

Meeting with Japan's Prime Minister 2006

Japan Advertisement

Andrea Chénier at the Staatsoper


Vienna 2004 with Birthday Celebration






































Zurich Andrea Chénier 1999


























Andrea Chénier -  Bologna and Japan 2006







































Andrea Chénier -  Barcelona 2007















Karlsruhe 2009






















Andrea Chénier (Giordano)

Vienna State Opera

Marco Armiliato, Conductor
Otto Schenk, Director
José Cura, Tenor: Andrea Chénier
Marco Vratogna, Baritone: Charles Gérard
Martina Serafin, Soprano: Madeleine de Coigny
Margarita Gritskova, Mezzo-soprano: Bersi
Thomas Ebenstein, Tenor
Marco Caria, Bass


Andrea Chénier

Jerusalem Post

Irving Spitz

1 June 2013

Umberto Giordano’s opera, Andre Chenier is set during the French Revolution. It is a love story based on the life of a real historical character, the poet Andrea Chenier. He was initially an ardent supporter of the revolution but subsequently became a victim of the Reign of Terror and was guillotined.

A great tenor, soprano and baritone are required for a successful performance of this work. The Vienna State Opera provided the goods. Argentinean tenor Jose Cura proved to be a passionate Andre Chenier although his voice has lost some of its sheen ...

Otto Schenk’s production with its conventional staging is somewhat dated and uninteresting.










Our sad, pathetic, unfortunate attempts at curtain call videos.

We were seated SO FAR AWAY from the stage that we decided to try to videotape the curtain call.  We are loading two this week just to see if they work.  They might not.  Alas.

Curtain Call Video 1

Curtain Call Video 2









































Stockholm 2014



Original English Version of the Andrea Chénier Interview for the Swedish Opera

January 5, 2014


From José Cura’s personal web site.

You are singing the part of André Chénier, who is he? Describe the character and what you like about doing the part.

Because they speak to the soul, painters, composers, performers, philosophers, poets, intellectuals in general, have always been the germ of changes and for that, many of them paid heavy prices, even death, either “physical death” or “social death” (what is worse because it does not imply the relief of dying). André Chenier is one of those who paid both prices: first social discredit, then guillotine. Being myself a sort of Don Quijote, I feel at home in the skin of André Chenier. “Improvviso” (the monologue with which the character reveals his spirit) is a true song of protest. However, because an honest intellectual does not fight one side in benefit of an other, but fights injustice, whichever side it comes, and Chenier realizes that the ones he sang praises to were as bad as the ones he fought, se he denounced them, getting killed by the same people he first favored. One of the most important phrases in the whole opera, a turning point for the character, remains awkwardly buried in the music. Giordano, who was a good composer, was not a genius. I cannot imagine Verdi or Puccini letting down such a phrase: “La eterna cortigiana curva la fronte al nuovo iddio”, (the same old hooker bends its knees to the new god), says Chenier watching how the crowd acclaims the new order in blind ecstasy… 

Do you have a favorite character or role in an opera? If yes, which one and why?

 My favorite characters, you have guessed by the above, are those whose personalities allow me to convey a deep message and not just beautiful music for the sake of it. With age, I am becoming more and more radical in my approach to the libretti: “That damned habit Cura has of doing always what he wants instead of what we expect from him”, somebody wrote not long ago. This phrase, intended to be an attack when read in context, has become my favorite quote when I need to remember my mission, my obligation, as an artist to keep things fresh, to take risks, to surprise. Recently I read a great statement in an interview to a philosopher: The antonym of “courage” in modern times is not “cowardice” but conformism. Personally, I think conformism is cowardice.

Are there still any roles that you would like to do but haven’t done yet? If yes, which ones and why?

I am very much looking forward to my first Tannhauser and my first Peter Grimes in 2017… 

You are also a conductor and a director, how do you find the time to do both?

All is possible if you organize yourself with time an efficacy. There are moments for the singer, moments for the conductor and moments for the director. There are also moments in which I combine them, like when I sing in an opera I am directing (Samson in Germany 2010, Cavalleria and Pagliacci in Belgium 2012, Otello in Buenos Aires last July), or when I conduct and opera I direct, which is my favorite combination (La rondine in Nancy 2012). 

 As a conductor and director yourself, how does it feel to be conducted/directed by others as a singer?

It is like dancing. If you dance with a good dancer, you are happy to let the other one lead, you enjoy the freedom of not being in charge, but if you dance with a bad one, you complain each time he steps on your toes…









From the Audience




















Last Updated:  Sunday, December 24, 2017  © Copyright: Kira