Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director

 

 

 

Operas:  Carmen

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Year

Month

Performance Dates

Title

Theatre

City

Notes

Country

1992

April

17, 30

Carmen

Teatro Carlo Felice

Genoa

Le Remendado

Italy

1992

May

2

Carmen

Teatro Carlo Felice

Genoa

Le Remendado

Italy

1993

February

1

Carmen

Teatro dell’Arca

Milan

Highlights/piano reduction

Italy

1996

October

22, 25, 27, 30

Carmen

San Francisco Opera

San Francisco

First fully staged starring role

US

1996

November

2, 5, 8

Carmen

San Francisco Opera

San Francisco

 

US

1997

February

22

Carmen

San Francisco Opera

San Francisco

 

US

1998

March

20

Carmen

Opéra Bastille

Paris

Dates?

France

1998

July

12, 15, 17

Carmen

Barbican

London

In Concert

England

1998

September

13, 16

Carmen

Staatsoper

Vienna

 

Austria

1998

October

21

Carmen

Opernhaus

Zürich

 

Switzerland

1999

January

18, 20, 23, 26, 30

Carmen

L'Opera de Bastille

Paris

 

France

1999

February

2, 5, 9

Carmen

L'Opera de Bastille

Paris

 

France

1999

July

25

Carmen

Torre del Lago

 

 

Italy

1999

August

1

Carmen

Torre del Lago

 

 

Italy

2000

June

25

Carmen

Opernhaus

Zürich

 

Switzerland

2000

July

8, 10

Carmen

Ravenna Festival

Ravenna

 

Italy

2003

July

29

Carmen

Arena di Verona

Verona

 

Italy

2004

May

15, 16, 18, 19

Carmen

Olympic Stadium

Seoul

Open Air

South Korea

2004

June

16, 18

Carmen

Warsaw Opera

Warsaw

 

Poland

2007

September

8

Carmen

 

Bucharest

 

Romania

2008

May

24

Carmen

Staatstheater

Karlsruhe

 

Germany

2009

February

25, 28

Carmen

Staatsoper

Vienna

 

Austria

2009

March

4, 8

Carmen

Staatsoper

Vienna

 

Austria

2009

July

10

Carmen

Opernhaus

Zürich

 

Switzerland

2009

October

4, 7, 10

Carmen

Bayerischen Staatsoper

Munich

 

Germany

2010

December

19, 22

Carmen

Opéra Royal de Wallonie

Liege

 

Belgium

2012

December

15, 18

Carmen

Deutsche Oper

Berlin

 

Germany

2013

January

10

Carmen

Deutsche Oper

Berlin

 

Germany

2013

March

1

Carmen

Metropolitan Opera

New York

Last minute sub

US

2015

March

22, 24, 28

Carmen

La Scala

Milan

 

Italy

 

 Reviews

 

Carmen, San Francisco, October 1996:  “Further good, even great news, is the José in this new production.  José Cura is an exciting tenor, with a grainy, baritonal voice, a welcome change from the succession of pretty voices we have had. Here’s a guy from Argentina who is not yet a heldentenor and a moody, temperamental, effective actor as well. He is young and has a long way to go—at times, he rushes through the music, phrasing it inconsistent, etc., but you just want to sit there and listen to what comes next.  Long may he progress, and he will.”  J Gereben, 22 October 1996

 

Carmen, San Francisco, October 1996:  “Bizet’s opera needs star performances, and it got them. Olga Borodina sang the first Carmen of her career, José Cura his first Don José, and both brought electrifying musicality, presence and promise to this most popular of all French operas. Cura’s Don José was, if anything, more exciting. Blessed with dashing good looks and a dancer's presence, the young Argentine tenor made a riveting impression. If his technique is a little reckless, the thrill of the voice is undeniable. Here is a real powerhouse of a tenor, with a burnished baritonal timbre that brought to mind Ramon Vinay or the young Plácido Domingo. Best of all was Cura's touching, natural way with Bizet's music. He has a sort of story-telling ease that has been rare among tenors since World War II, the phrasing of a Schipa or even a Gigli. These are arid days for tenor, and with not a lot of prospects on the horizon to take the place of the Holy Three, Cura might be the one.”  San Francisco Gate, 24 October 1996, Octavio Roca

 

Carmen, San Francisco, October 1996:  “José Cura, whose Polione strongly impressed me some weeks ago in Los Angeles, gives an incredibly strong account of Don José. This is an earth-shattering first appearance of the young Argentine tenor on the local scenes thanks to a solid stage power (spontaneity, desire, anguish, without forgetting his emotional intensity, the spectacular paroxysm in Carmen’s Act IV) and also thanks to his voice which has a beautiful timbre, reliable projection, is well-focused and expressive.”  Opera International, February 1997

 

Carmen, Barbican, July 1998:  “It was chiefly a vehicle for the rich talents of the Argentinian tenor José Cura as Don José and the mezzo Olga Borodina as Carmen. As an example of two singers in prime vocal condition, it was impressive but the absence of theatrical space and spirit seemed to be an impediment to the full blossoming of their fated relationship.”  Telegraph, 18 July 1998, Geoffrey Norris

 

Carmen, Barbican, July 1998:  “This was Bizet confined to the concert platform.  But Sunday’s Carmen carried a fire and finesse that outclassed many a staging hung with all the trappings of a Seville the composer never visited. José Cura’s brigadier [was] careful to develop his José gradually and not give away too much too early. His tenor is fast developing the baritonal qualities of Plácido Domino and Cura uses them to powerful effect, making José end as a gored bull, tormented beyond endurance. Behold the humble prototype of the Otello that Cura is about to sing around the world.”  The Times, 15 July 1998, John Higgins

 

Carmen, Barbican, July 1998:  “The only unproblematic element was José Cura's José, getting the applause that befits someone on his way from the wings to center-stage as reigning Italian (-style) tenor. He didn't try to portray José as a psychopath, a notion which has to be imported into the part. Rather he remained the mother's boy with a surging libido, and insofar as there was any team to collaborate with, he was the ideal member.”  The Spectator, 15 July 1998, Michael Tanner

 

Carmen, Paris, March 1998:  “The true star of the evening [was] the Argentine tenor José Cura (Don José). He created a performance that was very melodramatic, passionate, much less reserved than in San Francisco. At the end of the opera, when he implores Carmen, he is literally in tears and crying more than singing when he shouts “Do not leave me!””  La Scena Musicale, Vol. 3, No. 7 Mai / May 1998

 

Carmen, Bastille, January 1999:  “José as José is obviously the major asset of this reprise at the Bastille. At the premiere, there was evidence, in the large voice, rich in the middle, the slightly sharp but powerful high notes and the generous phrasing, that makes us forget the lack of nuances (the B flat is sung full out) of this electric presence.”  ConcertoNet, January 1999, Vincent Agrech

 

Carmen, Ravenna Festival, 2000:  “This was the best performance I have yet seen from Cura, with wonderfully spontaneous reactions, showing quite a talent for comedy in Act I. Vocally, Cura injected desperate passion in the voice, almost bursting with a sexual sob, as he sang 'Carmen', when he gives into his passion. The Flower Song was performed as a sweet and impassioned plea, with lyricism and sensitivity of phrasing.”  Opera Now, November/December 2000, Antonia Couling

 

Carmen, Arena di Verona, July 2003:  “It must be said bluntly that the Rosario tenor José Cura (Don José), for whom the audience applauded so strongly that he encored the Flower Song, did a magnificent job, deploying a well-covered voice, a strong lyrical ‘spinto’, that was harsh or imploring depending on circumstance.”  Diario La Prensa, 31 July 2003, Carlos Ernesto Ure

 

Carmen, Bucharest, September 2007:  “José Cura amazed the audience with his machismo, intensity, and interpretation. But if many were expecting to see a romantic Carmen, the Gala performance on Sunday must have taken them by surprise. Cura’s vision, in absolute agreement with that of the Israeli mezzo soprano Hadar Halevy, turned Bizet’s opera into a passionate and exciting performance, putting particular emphasis on the character of Don José.  From Cura’s perspective and as shown successfully in Bucharest, although Carmen is a French opera it captures the world of Seville through the violence of its characters.

Cura’s Don José is an arrogant man, but in accordance with the time, whose machismo attitude could not tolerate the behavior of a free and powerful Carmen. The murder at the end of the opera is not an act of jealousy but the natural act of strong man in the face of humiliation. Two scenes in particular took away the audience’s breath: the third act, when Don José is called home by Micaela for his ailing mother—the violence Cura calls up could be read on Havey’s face—and the final scene, when the intensity of Cura’s interpretation erased any trace of theatricality, as if he had brought the boiling blood and nerves of Don José to the stage.”  Cotidianul, 10 October 2007, Cristiana Visan

 

Carmen, Bucharest, September 2007:  “The second essential point in the work comes at the end of Act III. Don José’s love turns to hate. Jealousy is just the acid needed to change the essence of feeling. So human is this metamorphosis, so many souls have experienced this alchemy, so there is not a man in the world who does not vibrate with the drama of Don José. Tenor José Cura was, at that moment, the most powerful Don José that I have ever seen or heard. The end of Act III was dominated by his exceptional dramatic temperament. His Don José emphasized a feature of machismo which transforms love to hate: arrogance. I confess, having been struck by the arrogance of the character that had been visible since Act I, I had been annoyed. During the lyrical moments (meeting with Micaela, the aria from Act II, the love of Carmen at the end of the work) I wondered how he would maintain a coherent psychological character. I expected, frankly, unexplained tears that we unfortunately see too often in dramatic arts when a character who at first seems one thing somehow becomes another without any supporting dramatic underpinnings, just because the artist engaged in a superficial reading of the role. Well, Cura offered a solid Don José, without internal cracks, who manages to outwardly humble and lyrical while at the same time indestructibly arrogant. What a rare thing! I cheered enthusiastically and cried ‘bravo!’ with all my heart. Cura’s great quality is not his voice, though without a doubt he sings very well. His vocal cords have been kissed by God. And yet, it is due to the temperament of this huge dramatic tenor, his acting (and yes, I think acting in opera is different than acting in general) that he invests in the character and not necessarily in the music. With keen intelligence, Cura knows how to use his voice in a special way. His interpretative solutions are unique, surprising. Where almost all other tenors use piano, he forces one or two notes, makes a split second stop and then offers a tense piano. Every time it works. He convinces. Cura is that kind of tenor, quite rare, who excels in those moments when the characters lives an emotional earthquake, must make major decisions, or keenly feel the feelings. For me, the scene at the end of Act III was fantastic. From that moment, when Don José is rejected by Carmen, he becomes her most dangerous enemy. And Cura showed us this transformation with the same clarity as teachers show students how bodies are dissected.”  Cotidianul, 9 September 2007, Sever Voinescu

 

Carmen, Bucharest, September 2007:  “What [...] was there to see, in the first show hosted by the Bucharest National Opera in this edition of the George Enescu Festival? José Cura himself –a handsome, temperamental, sensitive singer – the kind we hadn’t seen on our stages for a very long time, a high-class and intelligent artist, who knows that "characters should be solid, because the stage is merciless and you can fall as fast as a meteorite".  A man who probably creates a magnetic field around him, wherever he goes, and naturally attracts appraisal, due to the mysterious force of his celebrity. A new triumph for... José Cura!”  Radio Romania Muzical, 10 September 2007, Luminita Arvunescu

 

Carmen, Vienna, February 2009:  “Carmen comes down to the two leads, and there must have been some astronomical anomaly behind the pairing of baroque specialist Vesselina Kasarova, new to the role, and the force of nature called José Cura: the two worked off each other to create an edge-of-your-seat intensity, offering blood-and-guts characterizations while never neglecting Bizet's score.... No wimpy mama's boy, this true dramatico dude was unconsciously (or not) wrapping a leather thong around a hand while Carmen delivered her ‘Habanera,’ and he was clearly a brute in his lead-up to a staggeringly gorgeous, divinely phrased flower song. And he proceeded to beat the crap out of Escamillo.”  Opera News, May 2009, Larry Lash

 

Carmen, Vienna, February 2009: “As to José Cura as Don José, the criticism leaves a little good hair, but he is at least honest to the fingertips. Certainly, the mezza voce of the Flower Song does not make his voice happy, but as soon as he let loose with impetus, he does so with full commitment and therefore also to full effect. And he is a fascinating actor, especially at the end. Unlike many of his contemporaries in the role he does not transform into a begging weakling who sprawls at Carmen’s feet pleading desperately. This José, who in the third act has already made plain how much his honor has been violated by Carmen’s behavior, tries one more time to settle things, to give her one last chance: when she pushes him away, he does what must be done without emotion. He stabs her, wipes the bloody knife on his pants and turns away. No whimpering breakdown over the corpse. Perhaps too macho but in any case, a man of honor. And a highly impressive performance….”  Der Neue Merkur, 1 March 2009, Renate Wagner

 

Carmen, Vienna, February 2009: “At moments of strength, José Cura (as Don José) convinced; however, where it became intimate he came to the edge of his pianissimo art. Nothing new here, but in any case an intense, raging performance.”  Der Standard, 27 February 09, Ljubiša Tošić

 

Carmen, Vienna, February 2009: “At the very forefront is the concentrated power by the name of José Cura: manly and massive is his tenor, but capable of caressing tones.”  Wiener Zeitung, 27 February 09, Christoph Irrgeher

 

Carmen, Vienna, February 2009: “José Cura, who appears to relish the role, seemed almost indifferent in the first act, thawing only with the Flower Song. He sang with unexpected control – and suddenly one felt what is actually in the voice, if it is reined in to meet the part. After an emotionally strong third act, Cura changed in the finale to a desperate, introverted underdog, who begs for love and cannot tolerate Carmen’s superiority any longer. Thus the murder becomes the impulsive act of a man with no reason to live begging for one last toke of love. This José gives her one more chance and when she rejects him, he does what needs to be done. He stabs her, wipes the bloody knife on his trousers and turns away.  No collapsing on the corpse. Cheers and flowers for Don José.”  Operinwien, 25 February 09, Dominik Troger

 

Carmen, Vienna, March 2009:  “If one accepts that José Cura simply sings like José Cura, then one was very pleased. This Don José (and by this I mean the character) is never a weakling with major psychological problems as portrayed by other singers, but a proud Navarreser who—while certainly under the influence of his Carmencita—walks a certain way that he maintains through the inevitable consequence. This also includes the way he kills Carmen with deliberation when she refuses to come back to him. This murder is no impulsive reaction but well thought-through with the foreknowledge that he will ultimately lose his life. Acting is certainly one of Cura’s most convincing achievements, but he also presented the Flower Song with great heart and much feeling.  Huge applause at the end, and even the singer seemed pleased…”  Der Opernfreund, 4 March 2009, Kurt Vlach

 

Carmen, Vienna, March 2009:  “José Cura may have wished for someone more spirited and energetic(as his Carmen), as was witnessed in the dramatic Act Two duet, but it by no means influenced the star tenor's incredibly virile vocal performance and poignant, precisely sung interpretation. On the contrary: Cura is more than reliable and an absolute musical revelation in his present form and with all the vocal and dynamic refinement, which in taste and style is unequaled among his colleagues today. Ovations for him.”  Opernglas, March 2009

 

Carmen, Milan, March 2015:  “[Garanca’s] sparring partner was an old acquaintance:  José Cura.  The performance fluctuated in the sense that it alternated between beautiful passages of great intensity and cries at the vocal limits.  As Don José, if only because the character is all passion and no control, he is still credible.”  Operaclick, 22 Mar 2015, Alberto Luchetti

 

 

 

Last Updated:  Sunday, June 28, 2015  © Copyright: Kira