Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director

 

 

 

Operas:  Pagliacci

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Teatro Colón 2015

see also Cav Buenos Aires

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

José Cura

De regreso al Teatro Colón

 El tenor argentino vuelve al país para presentar Cavalleria rusticana y Pagliacci. Vive en Europa y considera que la crisis es mundial y no económica, sino moral.

  • Por Analía Melgar |

 

Múltiple. José Cura en el Colón, en su triple rol de tenor protagonista, director y escenógrafo. | Foto: Sergio Piemonte

El tenor argentino José Cura está radicado en Europa, y su carrera sobresale en todos los continentes. Sin embargo, en su ajetreada agenda –sus próximas citas son en Beijing, Bratislava y Estocolmo, y ya tiene asumidos compromisos artísticos hasta 2018–, hay espacios para nuestro país. En 2013 ya había venido a hacer Otello al Teatro Colón, como protagonista, director y escenógrafo. En 2015, está de regreso, también en ese triple rol, al que le suma un cuarto, el de iluminador. Está aquí para hacer cinco funciones (los días 14, 16, 17, 18 y 21 de julio) de un doblete operístico que traslada al coliseo porteño una producción de la Opera de Valonia, Lieja, Bélgica. Se trata de Cavalleria rusticana, de Pietro Mascagni y Pagliacci, de Ruggero Leoncavallo; en esta última, el propio Cura toma el papel de Canio.

—¿Cómo describiría al Teatro Colón en este momento?

—Aunque yo soy argentino, y el teatro es mi primera casa, no dejo de llegar como un invitado. Veo cambios, veo esfuerzos. Y más allá de los inconvenientes que pueda tener un teatro tan monstruosamente grande como es el Teatro Colón, el factor humano es el que siempre hace que salgan las cosas adelante. La gente del Colón quiere mucho al teatro, quiere mucho su trabajo, y son artistas de raza, hasta los maquinistas. Con respecto al 2013, siento que hay un poco más de serenidad. Además, han ajustado y actualizado los sueldos, lo cual le hace muy bien psicológicamente a todo el mundo.

—¿Qué reflexión le merece que un espectáculo como el que usted presenta realice sólo cinco funciones?

—Un teatro con la máquina que tiene el Colón tendría que hacer muchas más funciones al año. Esto no tiene que ver con una voluntad de no hacer, sino con el presupuesto. Para óperas tan populares como las que hacemos, cinco funciones son muy pocas, porque ya está todo vendido desde hace meses. Mucha gente se va a quedar con ganas de verlas. Las razones de la restricción, no las conozco.

—Hace más de veinte años vive en España. ¿Cómo son sus sentimientos hacia ese país y hacia la Argentina?

—Yo soy un hijo de la Argentina y allí donde vaya por el mundo siempre se me llama “el artista argentino”. El orgullo es siempre el mismo: que me sigan llamando “argentino” hasta la muerte.
—Y ¿cómo vive esto futbolísticamente?

—Me gusta ver el buen deporte. Ver jugar al Barcelona o al Real Madrid es un ejercicio estético: esta gente juega fútbol casi artístico. Ahora, juega la Selección y el país entero se identifica emotivamente. Argentina o España: si alguno de los dos queda descalificado, sigo con el otro.

—¿Qué opinión tiene de la tan mentada crisis en España y en Europa?

—Se habla mucho de crisis económica, pero la crisis que tenemos no es económica, es moral y no me refiero a España, sino al mundo. Es de principios. La crisis económica es una de las consecuencias de esa crisis de principios. Crisis económicas, la humanidad ha tenido y va a tener muchísimas y ha salido de ellas con mayor o menor esfuerzo. De lo que se sale con mucho más tiempo, dolor y pagando consecuencias más graves, es de las crisis morales. Y eso me preocupa mucho más.

 

 

 

 

Note:  this is a straight from the computer translation, without any effort to make it read better or more intelligently.  Consider it a very general guide.

 

Back to Teatro Colon

The Argentine tenor returns to the country to present Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci.  He lives in Europe and believes that the crisis is global and not economic but moral.

 

The Argentinian tenor Jose Cura is based in Europe, and his career excels in all continents.  However, in your busy schedule-their upcoming appointments they are in Beijing, Bratislava and Stockholm, and already has made artistic commitments until 2018, there are spaces for our country.  In 2013 and he had come to do Otello at the Teatro Colon, as an actor, director and set designer.  In 2015, he is back, also in this triple role, which adds a fourth, illuminator.  He's here to make five functions (days 14, 16, 17, 18 and 21 July) of an opera double that moves to Buenos Aires Coliseum production Opera of Wallonia, Liege, Belgium.  It's Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni and Pagliacci, by Ruggero Leoncavallo;  in the latter, Cura himself takes the role of Canio.

 How would you describe the Teatro Colon at the moment?

 Although I am Argentine, and the theater is my first house, I keep arriving as a guest.  I see changes, see efforts.  And beyond the problems that can have such a monstrously big theater like the Teatro Colón, the human factor is what always makes things go forward.  People from Colón loves the theater, he wants his work a lot, and are artists of race, until the engineers.  With regard to 2013, I feel there is a little more serenity.  They have tweaked and updated salaries, which makes it very well psychologically to everyone.

 What analysis can you make a show like that you have made only five functions?

 Theater-a machine that has the Colón would have to do many more features per year.  This has to do with a desire to do, but with the budget.  For as popular as we do operas, five functions are very few, because it is already sold out for months.  Many people will be eager to see them.  The reasons for the restriction not know.

 Over twenty years ago-he lives in Spain.  How are your feelings toward that country and Argentina?

I am a child of Argentina and wherever you go in the world always called me "the Argentine artist".  Pride is always the same: to continue calling me "Argentine" until death.

 And how do you live this footballing?

 I like to see the good sport.  View play Barcelona or Real Madrid is a cosmetic exercise: these people play football almost artistic.  Now, the team plays and the whole country is emotionally identified.  Argentina or Spain, if either of them is disqualified, still another.

 What is your opinion of the much talked about crisis in Spain and Europe?

 He talks a lot about economic crisis, but the crisis we have is not economic, moral and I is not talking about Spain, but the world.  It is the beginning.  The economic crisis is one of the consequences of this crisis of principles.  Economic crises, humanity has had and will have many and has left them with more or less effort.  What he gets away with much longer, paying more pain and serious consequences, it is of moral crisis.  And that worries me more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This is a machine-based translation.  It provides a general idea of the article's contents but should not be considered definitive.

 

Cavalleria rusticana –

 Pagliacci: Two in One

 

The operas of Mascagni and Leoncavallo, in the manner of a diptych, made notable by the particular look of Tenor José Cura

 Germán A. Serain

16 July 2015

Both are fundamental titles of Verismo, that stream of Italian opera in that late nineteenth century that abandons the great historical or legendary themes to mess with the miseries of common man.  They are also the title most recognized by their respective creators:  Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni and Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo, who is also the librettist.  It is tradition that these two short operas are presented together.  But in this case, the bet by José Cura was a little greater:  he presented both titles as two different moments in the life of the same community.  In addition to uniting Sicily and Calabria, he also changed this village to Caminito Street in the neighborhood of La Boca.

Cura meant this geographical transposition to be a tribute to the Italian immigration of the last century, which may have some logic but adds nothing to the work.  Or almost nothing, because he uses it as an excuse to introduce, here and there, musical elements related to the tango.  A tango is heard on the radio as the curtain opens, the sound of the bandoneon is heard on stage with the sounds of the violins in the pit during the Intermezzo of Cavalleria, while a couple dance a dramatic, dreamlike and symbolic tango anticipating the of a character, and then the same bandoneon, played by Juan Kujta, accompanies the public during the interval, with open curtain and the auditorium in half light.

Even though the doubts remain about the desirability of transferring the action to Buenos Aires, the staging is impressive. Standouts in the first half, both vocally and in terms of acting, was the excellent work of Enrique Folger as Turiddu, accompanied by the promising Santuzza of Guadalupe Barrientos, who owns a great voice. Rounding out the main roles were Leonardo Estevez as Alfio, Anabella Carnovali as Mamma Lucia, and the beautiful and talented Marianna Rewerski as Lola.  Beyond the vocal performances, not all displayed good Italian diction.

Some details remain only partially understood.  For example, Alfio, who, in theory, is a rustic carter, first arrives on stage by motor to sing about horses and then is the only one who appears dressed very elegantly, almost like a dandy.  Nor was it clear what the idea was of having at all times a policeman on stage who will do absolutely nothing to prevent the duel between Turiddu and Alfio or to curb the murderous acts of Canio.  Perhaps this detail can be taken as a criticism of the inaction in the real world but this may only be the idea of this commentator.

Within the operatic landscape, José Cura is one of the most beloved by the pubic, even if not always matched with the intentions of the critics.  To his merits as a tenor, which became clear in the second half of the evening when he played a fearsome Canio, the Rosarian has added to this production the role of stage director, stage designer, and lighting director.  It was in the famous aria “Recite! Vesti la giubba” that all the talents of the singer emerged, and he is very attuned to his acting work.  The aesthetics of his Canio appeared at time to be a tribute to The Phantom of the Opera.  He was seconded by Mónica Ferracani as Nedda, Fabian Veloz as a great Tonio, also in charge of the prologue, Gustavo Ahualli as Silvio and Sergio Spina as Beppe.

To give a better idea of a single story, perhaps the prologue from Pagliacci should be offered at the beginning of all performances, although it is true that the famous line “La commedia è finite” is most effective at the end, here on the lips of Mamma Lucia.  Sometimes there seemed strange management of time:  during the Intermezzo of Cavalleria it seemed to be night in the middle of the day and in Pagliacci, which must be developed almost at midnight seems to take place over a prolonged sunset.

Anyway, this double—premiered by Cura in Belgium in 2012, with its fatal mixture of jealousy and passions, is more than worthy of being enjoyed and applauded.  Both the Choir of the Teatro Colón and the Children’s Choir fulfilled their roles well, while the Colón Orchestra, under the direction of Roberto Paternostro, had moments of brilliance but also inexcusable lapses.

 

 

 

 

Pag @ Teatro Colón 2015 -- Screen Grabs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  It provides a general idea of the article's contents but should not be considered definitive.

 

 

Love and Pain in La Boca

José Cura talks about his return tonight, in his dual role as singer and stage director in Cavalleria rusticana and  Pagliacci

NATION

Cecilia Scalisi

 

“When I left in 1991, as with all those who are forced to go away, I left very angry. Nobody is a prophet in his own land,” recalled José Cura days ago, receiving the Honorable Mention Domingo Faustino Sarmiento award on his return to Argentina in 1999, eight years after his [initial] departure.

But the truth is that when I left in 1991, not only I was not a prophet in my own land: I was a prophet nowhere. And my people, for much that I needed a motivation, was not responsible of that! I didn’t understand this until much later. When I came back in 1999 I did it with a thirst for vengeance. I felt I was a prophet to the entire world except on my own soil, so I thought “Now they’ll hear me". And I committed the greatest mistake of my life: revenge. I was wrong.”

He said he was sorry and his words reverberated in a long pause before he concluded:  “This Honor is the proof of that mistake of mine because now that I am, for experience and maturity, someone deserving to be heard, my people recognize it openly and with proud.” That is José Cura. As frank and honest in his reconciliation with the country, as human and dramatic as in the operatic sense. "Augumentative, but loyal," as he defined it in front of the audience who celebrated his career.

Cura returns to the Colon tonight after his Otello in 2013 in the dual role of singer and stage director for his staging of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci (Liege Opera Production), set in Caminito in La Boca.  After several hours of an open dress rehearsal in which he masterfully choreographed a multiplicity of roles, José Cura was ready to talk with La Nacion. 

Why Caminito?

Both stories supported dislocation and timelessness without falling into nonsense.  Why not Caminito, this navel of Buenos Aires, with its cord sunk into the Riachuelo, inextricably linked to the thousand and one stories of love and pain that our ancestors lived a hundred years ago?

Does the importance of the names imply a re-reading of the plot?

In Cavalleria the names are crucial to understanding the metaphor of the work.  There are ones who rebels against the established order and pays with his life. Beginning with Jesus Christ.  Another such is Salvador (whose diminutive is Turiddu), son of one Anunciada (Mamma Lucia), who is betrayed by a Dolorosa (Lola) and sold by a Saint (Santuzza).  Everything happens on Easter Sunday and Turiddu is ‘delivered’ during this pagan rite of the blood which is a toast.

You’ve compared Turiddu with the scapegoat of an entire society.

Ever since man was man, shaking water risks his integrity.  First you try to remove him morally (slander, insults, criticism) and if that it not enough, then he is totally eliminated.  Turiddu proposes to Lola before he leaves and when he returns she is married.  No one warned him what had happened:  the people conspired in a tacit agreement of omerta that the strongest man, Alfio, should have Lola.  Turiddu unnerves him until he challenges him to a duel.  Alfio kills him.  Diversity is silenced, nobody talks about the it and the village recovers a sort of balance.

There are original ideas linked to the stories.  A part of the audience dislikes the “interpretation-régie.” What do you think on the subject?

In my productions everything is debatable but not inexplicable.  If Santuzza in three months pregnant in Cavalleria, then it is logical, as continuity of the same village, that in Pagliacci she is eight months pregnant.  If Alfio did not die in Cavalleria, then it is logical that we next see him next to Lola whose arrogant attitude mutates into submission:  it was a chance to denounce the sad topicality of battered women.  To Silvio I’ve given the role of fil rough (thread):  his omnipresence ends by inserting him into a duet with Nedda in a manner so consequential that it would almost seem illogical to make it different.

Talk about the “Canio syndrome” in Pagliacci.  What are the reflection of drama and what continues to movitate?

There are many aspects of show business, including the despair in which many “stars” fall when they end up discarded.  Although the dimensions are different, because he is a poor village clown, poor Canio is unhappy that his best years are behind him.  It motivates me to use the hardships of my old and beloved clown as a life lesson.  His drama, which is like that of many brothers in the profession, might one day be mine.  To know it in advance, to understand it, is the best antidote.

What will be the renewal of the genre?

I like the fusion of aesthetically beautiful with a sincere acting attitude.  I think that only when we stop seeing the face of the singer on stage and begin to see the face of the character will the opera theater become modern.

These days there is a debate about programming subscription with works like Quartett, which some deem belong to other cycles.

I love the new proposals. I think they are necessary. We will never agree on aesthetic tastes. That said, you have to put things in perspective. I saw Quartett. I liked the aesthetics. The problems, if there were any, is that a beautiful shell is not sufficient to justify everything. Using recordings or singing into a microphone is not at odds with a good show, on the contrary.  But to do it in the Colon seems disrespectful to which we approach the bull without a safety net.  In that sense, I think that the proposal of Quartett, good or bad, is for another place, or at least for a different cycle.

How do you choose to address the direction of an opera?

My only requirement is to believe in the libretto.  It was a condition that also makes me as a singer to stay away from certain operas when the libretto borders on ridiculous.  Dramaturgically, I feel uncomfortable.  If intellectual honesty is so important to me as a singer, it is even more so for me as a director who not only has to believe but to convince others as well.

What do you want with this production?

An old machinist of the theater told me:  I have worked here for 30 years and I have never seen any production that I have loved as much as this one.  That love is the “kick” I hope for the public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  It provides a general idea of the article's contents but should not be considered definitive.

 

Cavalleria Creole, the Day Gardel Sang in the Colón

Tintaroja-Tango

Nicolas Cobelli

17 July 2015

 

I’m on the fifth floor of the Teatro Colón and can see absolutely everything.  The bronze masks that decorate the proscenium, the names of some of the best composers in history surrounding the dome painted by Raúl Soldi.  I watch and wait.  In a few minutes the performance will start.  The quote:  Two classic operas of Italian Verismo, Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni and Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo.  I’m excited because this is the first time I have come to see an opera in the Colón, but with this very special feature:  it is not an official performance, it is the dress rehearsal before the premiere and the theater has decided to open it to the public. 

To tell the truth it is a performance that is not missing any ingredients, a test run.  And to my enthusiasm we add that the main character of the night is José Cura, who has three responsibilities this time:  he is the stage manager, the lighting director, and if that wasn’t enough, he was interpreting Canio, the man character in Pagliacci.

The first bars of the Orchestra for the Colón , directed by Maestro Roberto Paternostro, are heard and the adrenalines starts to spread among the souls Se escuchan los primeros compases de la orquesta estable del Colón, dirigida por el maestro Roberto Paternostro , la adrenalina comienza a dispersarse entre las almas presentes como un elixir mágico que logra alquimizarlas en una misma sintonía, aunque sea por un par de horas (algo que solo la música puede lograr).present as a magic elixir that manages alchemy in the same line, even for a few hours (something which only music can achieve).

Finally the curtain rises but what you see on stage is not what you imagined, not what you had heard.  My mind takes a few seconds to recognize what’s going on.  Tonight I came prepared to see and hear something else and now I need to rearrange my perspective and ask myself what it is I’m seeing andhearing.  Yes, yes.  It’s Gardel!  The voice that is heard is Carlos Gardel singing Caminito, by Juan de Dios Filiberto and Gabino Coria Peñaloza.

The set is not the streets of Sicily as stipulated, even the clothes are different.  The singer is Carlos Gardel and the landscape is the Caminito in La Boca, the Caminito of Quinquela Martin.  There are lamps, cabblestones, a bar, “a button that plays round pa don’t fall asleep […].  Then I smile like a baby and as a tanguero my chest swells with pride to see such a scene, nothing more and nothing less, in the Colón.

This marvel came from the restless mind of José Cura.  More than a lyrical singer.  An artist.  The type who appropriates works and produces plays and does not stay with the superficiality of them but dives it its true message.  On this occasion he transplanted the stories of these operas into La Boca as a tribute to the Italian immigration to Argentina.  And if this artistic prowess and all the artists who participated in it (huge artists all) is admirable, it is also remarkable that it is of little importance to Cura what the critics will say.  Those who come to put a division between classical and popular, who only listen to the musical notes, bold voices, bizarre bandoneons, the end of the endless tango, and all the cliches in both genders, those seek the shock only in the virtuosity and not in the artistic event.  Who would not like to hear something done well?  But something else also matters—expression.  This production has both.  And Gardel. 

Readings

Cavalleria Rusticana basically tells the story of Turiddu, a soldier who had returned to his village in Sicily to be reunited with Lola, his fiancée. But he learns that she has married another man: Alfio, a carter for the village. Everything that happens on this Easter day will inevitably culminate in a knife fight after a toast with his opponent. This opera reminds us tangos such as "Honor Gaucho", "Brindis de Sangre", "Duelo Criollo", "El Ciruja" and many others with similar themes. Tangos from the simplest poetically speaking, but unbeatable classics. A duel for love affairs is the fastest reading that may be made of the story, but for me Cavalleria also references Borges’ "the man in the pink corner" of Borges or Bioy Casares’ "the dream of Heroes" of Bioy Casares,  more complex reading and with a deeper message:  the tragedy of a man who is willing to risk his life for honor , betrayals, hopes blighted by a third party, revenge, manliness, courage and human beings with their miseries and virtues. This is what Cura sought to transmit with his staging. And there is a third reading, a metaphorical one, explains José Cura:

 “Turiddu and Santuzza are diminutives of Salvatore and Santa.  Turiddu’s mother’s real name is not Mamma Lucia but Nuzia, which is, in turn, diminutive of Annunziata, so it’s Annunciation.  Lola is short for Addolorate, Dolores in Spanish.  And if that is not enough, the story of Cavalleria takes place at Easter: as such, the Savior, the son of Annunciation, dies on Easter after being betrayed by a Dolorosa and sold by a Saint.  And even more:  the ceremony in which Salvatore is delivered is a toast with red wine:  a right of blood.” 

Tango and the Opera

The opera has influenced the songs of tango since from the beginning. It’s first sung lyrics are nourished of Verismo. This (Verismo) is an operatic style that emerged around 1880 in Italy. It started as a literary genre and was then taken to the opera by composers such as Leoncavallo, Puccini and Mascagni.

They are stories that reflect the lives, the joys and the tragedies of the common man, the workers, the poor, the neglected, the good and the scoundrels.  The whores, the unfaithful, the infidels, the battered.  There are many tangos that reflect these stories, and even use the names of characters in opera.  An example of this is the tango “Griseta” by José González Castillo, about a young French woman who comes to the Buenos Aires suburb full of dreams of love and happiness but his story ends like Camille, the character in La Dama de Las Camelias, a novel by Alexandre Dumas which inspired Verdi to compose his celebrated opera La Traviata. In “Griseta” Castillo describes the French sweet as a “rare blend of Musetta and Mimi, with caresses from Rodolfo and Schaunard,” four of the protagonists of La Bohème by Giaccomo Puccini.  He also uses the name Manon from another opera by the same composer.

The tango “Silbando” (also by Castillo) has another feature similar to Cavalleria rusticana but the story is set in Dock Sud, in the South Barracks (Avellaneda).  The melody and leitmotiv of “Silbando” is identical to a passage in “Musetta’s Waltz,” one of the arias in the second act of La Bohème.

Something similar happens with Pagliacci.  There are several tangos that reflect the tragedies of men and women who work in Creole circuses, circus people, poor artists like the magician who is described by Raúl González Tuñón in his poem "Johnny Walker".

Neighborhood circuses like the one of the famous clown Frank Brown.  Stories of artists who must deal with the adventures of nomadic life.  Thus we find tangos such as “Laugh Clown” (clear apology to Pagliacci), “Circus Girl” or “Salto Mortal,” the story of a clown who lives very happily with her partner, the circus manceau until a wealthy rancher arrives one day and she is seduced by his promises of fortune and she abandons the noble clown, who is observed afterwards on the stage of the trapeze and throws himself into the void while the children watch the tragic spectacle. 

Another tango with deeper lyrics and a resemblance to the story of Canio, the clown in Pagliacci, is “I am a Harlequin” by Enrique Santos Discépolo.  In this case the circus artist sings and dances to hide his heartache, claiming that the woman who wounded him romantically, whom he had pinned his hopes on, he rescued from the street before being betrayed.

“I was nailed to the cross by your serial Magdalena because I believed in Jesus and saved you,”
Forgive me if I was good, if not more to suffer, if I lived between laughter for wanting to redeem your love” and to finish his tragedy the Harlequin sentence:  “How much pain that makes you laugh!”

So there’s a brief account of some tangos related to opera.  But it is not only on the poetic plan that it has influenced tango but also in the interpretation.  Carlos Gardel, the greatest vocal exponent of the tango, always admitted to being a fan of Enrico Caruso, Tito Schipa, Beniamino Gigli, and Tita Ruffo.  I even managed to begin friendships with some of them and with Ruffo I even managed to take some vocal technique classes to give testimonies to the time.  Not only was Gardel influenced by opera singing, he was the first to implement the technique in popular Argentine music (a silly thing of achievement).  If we listen to recordings of Gardel in 1912 and compare them with those recorded in the 1920s, we can hear the enormous vocal and musical progress.  This was due to his studying opera singing with maestro Eduardo Bonessi, a renowned teaching of singing within tango, from 1919.  Besides Gardel he had student singers like Alberto Gómez, Floreal Ruiz, Alberto Marino, Azucena Maizani, Ignacio Corsini and Roberto Maida, among many others.  Another scholar of the canto lirico was Edmundo Rivero, who even wrote a small book on this topic and on the voice of Carlos Gardel. Tango at the same time managed to get into the taste of famous tenors such as Tito Schipa, who recorded versions of tangos such as "Confession", "La Cumparsita", "Vida Mía", "where these heart", "Tell me by ear" and even ventured into composition with his tango "El Gaucho" which he recorded in 1928 and no less  than in New York.

But though the tango first arrived in 1910, Gardel could never sing at Colón though across its stage have passed the greats of the genre.  So far, I hear his voice from the fifth floor of the Teatro Colón with a baby smile.  Today, I came to see one of the most important tenors in Argentina and the world:  José Cura.  And he greeted me with the voice of the greatest folk singer: Carlos Gardel.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  It provides a general idea of the article's contents but should not be considered definitive--especially when the words are José Cura's own.  Maestro Cura uses words with precision; the computer does not.

 

José Cura and the Fascination for the Art behind the Masks

 

Universal

14 July 14

[Excerpts]

 

Shortly after his presentation of the two classic works from Verismo in the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, he speaks about his career and what still fascinates him onstage. 

The story of José Cura has always seemed marked by concerns and questions.

Buenos Aires despises the arrogant, prefers to keep the magnificent at a distance, criticizes the transience of the success that prevails in the world of art and makes a monument of the culture of the work behind the curtains:  the name of Argentine José Cura, who lived through a meteoric career as a tenor and knew how to hold crowded settings, never left the critics indifferent.

His story seems to have always been marked by concerns and questions.  He began to study singing as a tool to conduct, left his native Argentina in the early 90s due to the lack of opportunities, ended up in a convent in the Italian Piedmont where they bottled wine for mass, continued to travel through Europe knocking on doors, and suddenly that which had been just a tool made him jump to fame:  he was catapulted onto the big staged and celebrated as “the tenor of the moment.” 

Today, having lived with both ecstatic praise and strong assaults from the seats, this 54 year old finds himself working as a singer, stage director, and conductor.

In which of these roles do you feel more at ease and in which the most recognized?

There are people who say, jokingly, that I’m much better as a ‘regista” or a conductor than a singer.  I love that, because if as I singer I am at least quietly decent, that means as a régisseur I do something well.  And as an artist I feel more comfortable in the role of conductor, i.e., both in stage direction and as orchestra director.  It has always been my vocation and has been a feature of my personality, according to my teachers, who had a child who was always the leader going.

In my calendar, my work as a stage director already runs parallel to the tenor and conductor. It is no coincidence, which reassures me because, chronological reasons, the singer has to give way to other types of activity in view of the fact that the voice, which is associated with the physical and not only to the intelligence, loses the lights and qualities you had when you were young.

The tenor has the possibility of moving on over the years to baritone roles.  Have you thought of that as a possibility?

When the voices of the sopranos darken, they begin to sing mezzo and nobody is shocked, but when one begins to sing baritone today, it seems to be a global drama.

Anyway, there are two aspects:  one as an actor and another as a singer.  I would like to sing baritone roles because they are usually roles of greater psychological thickness than the tenor, with some exceptions, and I enjoy that very much.  But in general tenor roles tend to be the little boys of movies.  The psychological depth is shallower than that of the baritones, who are always at the opera with problems, conflicts, personal dramas and offer much more to dig into, which is more fun for the actor. 

But I  can personally say, if I can affirm stage direction and conducting on my calendar, that after having sung 25 years internationally and almost 35 years in total, I am not particularly hurt if I have to sing very, very little.  Because the ideal is to enter into other activities while you still have time and strength and not to say that tomorrow I began to direct because I had no more voice, but to naturally change one thing for another.

To make this gradual change is a privilege that I have earned with hard work, fighting the prejudice of people who see you one way and not another.  Being famous does not allow you to do what you want.

You now present yourself with Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, both as a singer in the role of Canio and as stage director.  Today, what is your point of encounter with the works as heard?

The Verismo characters are born bleeding, sweating, insulting, weeping.  That psychological depth is greater than the ideal character.  You cannot psychoanalyze God.  You psychoanalyze the people who have problems.  In that sense, to enter the head of a Verismo character is much more fascinating than to get into the head of a mythical character.

In addition, Mascagni and Leoncavallo, as authors of the works, will be on stage.  Mascagni will walk through the streets of what in this production is referred to as a neighborhood in Buenos Aires, seeing how people live and cry and laugh, and will pick up on these “streets” the ideas to write his work.  At the same time, the authors will present their compositions on the stage and they will tell the spectators:  love us or hate us for what we are, not just for our mask, for we are also people like you, who suffer and cry.

A director today and a singing heartthrob yesterday, as you have been labeled so many times.  How do you get along with the past?

The second would not exist if it were not for the first.  Slowly my artistic maturity was created and I grew into a true artist, not the commercial product that I had been transformed into in the 1990s by the rules of show business.   One thing is a commercial product and the other an artist.  When the time finally ended, thank God (sometimes the end is not so bad), I could decide calmly that I would be an artist and not a product. 

I look back to the 90s and I see what I did well and what I did wrong, but I also look at it with much gratitude because it  was thanks to this strong emotions and moments in this decade that I am who I am today. 

Every seed has a moment of great crisis.  For a seed in the ground, the crisis is the time in which bursts, sending up its first shoot, when the heat of the earth rots it, the seed is most likely to be hurt.  And rightly so, because otherwise there would be no tree. 

What do you still have in common with the Cura who bottled wine for mass with the Cura of today?

That today I am where I have to be.  Either with the technicians, the lighting folks, or whatever.  If there is something that needs to be done, I do it.  And whit I have to reach into the septic tank, I do not run away.  I do so with authority but with respect.

 

 

An Argentine Cav And Pag

Seen and Heard

Jonathan Spencer Jones

July 26, 2015

[Excerpts]

In a second return to his native land as a producer and participant José Cura (after his 2012 Otello) has brought his Royal Opera of Wallonia production of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci to the Teatro Colón. And it is a very Argentine production, stated as a homage to the Italian immigration of 1900 and featuring the iconic Caminito in the scenery – a street full of colour, music and dance on every tourist’s itinerary in La Boca on the eastern side of the city, where many Italian settlers went and tango was born.

Besides the same scenery, Cura also sought to link the two works physically, with the dead Turiddu’s funeral wake at the start of Pagliacci and an estranged Alfio and Lola and a pregnant Santuzza putting in appearances in the second work. […]

Musically both works were sound, ably led by Roberto Paternostro, and notably for the Colón all the singers were Argentine. In Cavelleria, Guadalupe Barrientos particularly impressed as Santuzza, despite a bout of pharyngitis, singing with depth and passion. Enrique Folger brought his usual intensity to the role of Turiddu and Leonardo Estevez was correct as Alfio, as was Anabella Carnovali as Mamma Lucia in a role that doesn’t offer much scope and Mariana Rewerski as Lola.

Cura as Canio in Pagliacci was a dramatic presence, yet sounded somewhat restrained compared with his Otello (of which I was reminded, although hardly necessary, when the opening section of his 2012 production was shown when he was presented with the Mention of Honour “Senator Domingo Faustino Sarmiento” for his achievements in the week before this production opened). Fabián Veloz was impeccable in the prologue and ably brought to life the character of Tonio. Monica Ferracani was a fine Nedda, while Gustavo Ahualli was a rather colourless Silvio and Sergio Spina an over the top Beppe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  It provides a general idea of the article's contents but should not be considered definitive

 

Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires

 

Una Voce Poco

Gustavo Gabriel Otero

21 July 2015

 

Buenos Aires, 07/17/2015. Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci in Caminito (Homage to Italian immigration of 900). Show devised by Jose Cura.  Composed tango-song 'Caminito' Juan de Dios Filiberto (music) and Gabino Coria Peñaloza (lyrics) and Cavalleria Rusticana operas of Pietro Mascagni and Pagliacci, by Ruggero Leoncavallo.  Stage direction, set design and lighting design: José Cura.  Costumes: Fernando Ruiz.  Original production of the Royal Opera of Wallonia, Liege.  Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana, one-act opera with libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozetti and Guido Menasci based on the novel by Giovanni Verga.  Guadalupe Barrientos (Santuzza), Enrique Folger (Turiddu), Leonardo Estevez (Alfio), Mariana Rewerski (Lola) and Laura Dominguez (Lucia).  Ruggero Leoncavallo, Pagliacci, drama in one act with libretto by Leoncavallo himself.  Jose Cura (Canio / Pagliaccio), Monica Ferracani (Nedda / Colombina), Fabian Veloz (Prologue / Tonio / Taddeo), Gustavo Ahualli (Silvio), Sergio Spina (Beppe / Arlecchino), Reinaldo Samaniego and Grabriel Cows (Countrymen).  Juan Kujta, bandoneon.  Orchestra and Choir Boys Choir Stable Colon Theatre.  Stable Choir Director: Miguel Fabian Martinez.  Children Choir Director: Cesar Bustamante.  Musical direction: Roberto Paternostro.

 The Teatro Colón presented a show designed by the multifaceted José Cura called 'Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci at Caminito (tribute to Italian immigration of the 1900)'.

It all starts with the recording of the tango “Caminito” – composed in 1926 – with the extraordinary voice of Carlos Gardel and the stage action that shows at least two amorous encounters:  that of Turiddu and Santuzza and Nedda and Silvio.  We are neither in Sicily nor in Calabria but in a corner of the Buenos Aires neighborhood of La Boca at the beginning of the 20th century, although the setting for the exported Caminito Street is much more current, with a bar called “Caminito Tango” and above it houses occupied by Lola and Santuzza, a church of wood in the background and on the right of the square a mural called “La Murqa” which lies about 3 kilometres from Caminito and was constructed in 1988-1999. A helper disguised at Pietro Mascagni observes the action and takes notes.  Finally the music of Cavalleria rusticana begins.  In the intermezzo the organ is supplanted by the bandoneon and the cry that indicates the killing of Turiddu is first said by the Mascagni character and then whispered by Santuzza.  At the conclusion of Cavalleria the curtain is not lowered nor do the artists come out for their bows.  The auditorium lights come up dimply and displayed on the supertitle screen is the notice that the interval has begun.  During the break the bandoneonist plays tangos while sitting in the stage plaza along with Mascagni.  Part of the audience is enjoying the concert of tangos while others go out as usual.  After the call for the second half and the return of the audience, Pagliacci continues.  At the start of the music the funeral procession for Turiddu is staged, then Ruggero Leoncavallo arrives, he and Mascagni embrace, and then he sings the Prologue and leaves the stage with the other composer. After the Prologue is completed, a sign indicates that five months have taken place since the action in the first half.  Santuzza is seen as heavily pregnant, Lola and Alfio walk through the streets and it will subsequently be revealed that Silvio is the bartender at Mamma Lucia’s tavern.  Then comes the clowns and musical action that correspond to the Leoncavallo opera. The final sentence is not said by Tonio, as stated in the score, or by Canio as is traditionally, but by Mamma Lucia.  Some of the ideas are irreverent, a few extraordinary, a minority are decidedly bad or trivial, José Cura’s ideas never leave the viewer indifferent.  The costumes by Fernando Ruiz are correct without a defined anchorage but estimated to be between the last decade of the nineteenth century and the early thirties of the twentieth century.  The lighting designed by José Cura is simple with decidedly poor moments and the scenery, also designed by the tenor in pinpoint accuracy within a context of a tourist postcard, leaves little room for the choir.

The change of time, place, and action is not much of a bother.  Perhaps it is interesting for the audiences abroad to know the power that tango has in several countries in Europe and the Far East.  The problem is director José Cura overloads the work with violence.  Verismo is already about the reality of violence and to overdo it is ridiculous.  Take the example of Santuzza who is always touching her belly so that we realize she is pregnant, or when Santuzza flies into a fit of anger at the end of the duet with Turiddu and repeatedly hits her abdomen, perhaps trying to induce a natural abortion, or the impressive scar on the face of Canio that is revealed when the clown mask is removed.  Everything seems to be too much, with some details not considered carefully as in Lola and Alfio living above Mamma Lucia’s tavern with Santuzza as his neighbor blemishing the incredible love triangle. Or to have a policeman always on stage who cannot curb the violence that happens right under his noise.  It is ridiculous that Alfio, who has killed Turiddu, would be walking through the village during the action of Pagliacci when he should be in jail, or that this traveling company would perform outdoors in August in Buenos Aires, when it is the middle of winter.  Adding Castilian speech, slang in the supertitle turns or text that is not sung, the changing words or rhymes, or modification in the attribution of phrases would not be disturbing if the musical and vocal version of the first order. Being only a musical interpretation the focus was on the stage.  It wasn’t bad but it did not have the flight and excellence of other productions in the Colon, on others stages in Argentina, or in the world.  It is just one more, with good working of marking the parallel actions, exaggerating the main and ignoring the rest.

 Roberto Paternostro arranged the musical version and is responsible for allowing changes and alternations to the score.   No less than the addition of the bandoneon replaced the organ in the famous Intermezzo of Cavalleria but it rang out with a different tuning than the orchestra and notorious imbalances regarding them.  Both choirs performed acceptably but with some miscues, surely the fruit of Maestro Paternostro’s baton.  The tenor Enrique Folger was a Turiddu of vehement and somewhat forced emission. Leonardo Estevez had a proper performance while Laura Dominguez (replacing Anabella Carnevalli) was not up to par.  It was announced that Guadalupe Barrientos (Santuzza) had a sore throat and out of respect for the person we won’t make negative comments about her work considering her illness.  We will only say that her work was reasonable and allowed the performance to go on.  Mariana Rewerski was a perfect Lola, by sensuality, line of singing and vocal beauty.  José Cura offered a powerful and arrogant Canio.  With his well-known personal form of emission, phrases recited rather than sung and full high notes.  Fabian Veloz was an excellent Tonio and stood out in the prologue where he was characterized as the composer of the work, and was without doubt the best of the night.  Mónica Ferracani complied fully with the requirements of Nedda and Gustavo Ahualli (Silvio) and Sergio Spina (Beppe/Arlecchino) were no more than acceptable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated:  Thursday, August 27, 2015  © Copyright: Kira