Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director

 

 

Prague Artist in Residence

 

Ecce Homo

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José Cura Program Notes:
Ecce Homo

I wrote Ecce Homo in 1989 for a tenor colleague of mine from Buenos Aires. The piece never premiered as my colleague and I, both youthful dreamers then, and without any power to turn our projects into reality, didn’t manage to gather the necessary elements that were needed for its making. Years passed and my artistic career headed in different directions. Ecce Homo, just like many other of my pieces, remained relegated to the back of a drawer. In 2016, I rediscovered it and realised, with joy —and pride— that, instead of having spent all these years simply gathering dust, the piece had matured, much like a good wine. Undoubtedly, a lot has to do with how I spent the last 30 years maturing as a man, and as an artist, something which has allowed me to revise the oratorio with an authority which would have been unthinkable in 1989.

Ecce Homo isn’t original; there are many compositions based on the last moments of the life of Jesus Christ, some of them legendary and unreachable; but it is original in its use of certain sections of the Bible, such as the Psalms, or the Stabat Mater —and of the initial poetry, There was once a king, written by myself in 1982— combined with the “theatrical” action of Christ’s Passion. The musical and dramatic layout of Ecce Homo combines the religious introspection of the masses —and their pagan irreverence— with the interventions of a Christ who is earthly tangible, who alternates between a mystical depth, corresponding to his divinity, and the visceral nature of his attacks of desperation, more akin to his human condition. In this sense, the moments which are especially moving for me are those three in which we witness a devastating sincerity: Jesus’ plight for help in Getsemahne reflected in Psalm 6 “Father, where art thou? Save me!”, his desperate cry in Golgotha “O Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?”, and the Antiphon, interspersed in the Stabat Mater, in which the Virgin Mary, watching her son dying, asks: “Tell me, is there a greater pain than this?”

I chose not to fall into the triumphalist rhetoric of writing a great Hosanna in order to express the music of the Resurrection. I preferred reflecting the “Easter of Easters”, the cornerstone of the catholic faith, from the subtle and unexpected change of the darkness of the verses “Quando corpus morietur”, to the luminous and inspiring harmony of the words “Paradisi Gloria”, sung by children’s choir at the end of the piece, before the Amen.

José Cura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on photo to watch José Cura discuss his Ecce Homo....

 

Review

Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  We offer it only a a general guide but it should not be considered definitive.

Recenze: Curovo oratorium v premiéře zaujalo

 

Novinsky

Vladimír Říha

10 March 2017

[Excerpt]

The Argentine singer, conductor and composer José Cura has selected Prague as the site of the world premiere of his oratorio Ecce Homo.  It’s not so surprising since Cura is this season’s artist in residence with the Symphony Orchestra, plus the Prague audience has adored him since his first singing concerts here years ago.

On Wednesday and Thursday the [audience] in the sold-out Smetana Hall in the Municipal House witnessed two evenings where Cura excelled in all areas of his activity.  Not only in the first half of the program when he conducted the Prague Symphony but also in the second half with his oratorio when he stepped out with the other soloists, two choirs and the recorded voice of a reciter (Alfred Strejček).   The complement was really huge so even the conductor of the oratorio—Mario de Rose, an Argentine colleague of Cura, known in our country from his work in České Budějovice—had to conduct from an attached part of the stage.

Cura has said that he wrote the oratorio as a teenager in 1989 but that it had remained in a drawer because he was focused on his singing career.  Now approaching Easter, when the theme of the Passion of Christ is again being musically illustrated with famous works from the past, the new take by Cura will certainly take a place of honor among them.  Cura focuses on the last moments before the crucifixion of Christ and his death, but instead of the traditional glorification he uses these moments to reveal the human Jesus Christ.  The composer himself masterfully assumed the role of Christ….

Overall, Cura musical language was traditional and understandable, using a knowledge of Gregorian chant, a lot of percussion instruments, some of which were placed in the balcony, so that the idea of crying and pain was perfect.  The lyrics come mainly from the Psalms and the Stabat Mater. 

Cura succeeded to musically realize Ecce Homo within the short time allotted [for rehearsal]and all the participants worked on it as best they could.  The audience response was tremendous and especially for Cura who, as the composer, earned a double standing ovation.

For the first half the evening, Conductor Cura selected two lesser known works—the intimate Gymnopédie by Frenchman Erik Satie with orchestration of Debussy and especially the impressive Church Windows from the Italian Ottorino Respighi.

 

Performance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Press

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  This is a machine-based translation.

José Cura uses language with precision and purpose;  the computer does not.  

We offer it only a a general guide to the conversation and the ideas exchanged but the following should not be considered definitive.

 

 

 

Cura: Kristův příběh vyprávím drsně, byl tehdy považován za zločince

 

iDNES

Vera Drápelová

March 8, 2017

[Excerpts]

 

The Argentinian José Cura, one of the most famous tenors of today, is a frequent guest of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, City of Prague FOK.  He has the status of resident artist and because he is not only a singer but a composer and conductor, he is represented in each of these roles.

Wednesday and Thursday he will perform with this orchestra in the Municipal House his oratorio Ecce Homo, which he composed in 1989 but which is only now having its world premiere.

“In 1985 I was in the chorus of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and performed in Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion.  I was literally in shock, stunned.  I later conducted this work myself and Bach settled deep in my head.  I decided to pass on a Biblical story of my own but I shifted to a more dramatic composition in a harsher world.  After all, two thousand years ago Christ was considered a criminal.”

The title role of Christ, which he now sings himself, was originally intended for his friend.  But everything is made more complicated by the fact that he prescribed three other solo parts, a large orchestra and both an adult and children’s choir.  “We were excited but young.  That was when I was not yet a professional singer and of course my life then changed and the oratorio remained in a drawer,” he explains.   This piece will be conducted by Mario de Rose, then Cura will seize the baton for the next part of the program, which offers Church Windows by Ottorino Respighi and Gymnopédii by Erik Satie in the orchestration of Claude Debussy.

Writes his First Opera

Cura arrived in Prague shortly after his performances in the French version of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, presented by the Opera Monte Carlo.  “The feedback from Germany was a surprise, the Germans guard their Wagner and his heroic tenors, and this is a different way to do Wagner.  Now they all say let us teach him the role in the original [language] but by the time I master German, I will be sixty,” laughs the performer who refuses to sing in a language which he does not speak.  The exception was for Dvorak’s Love Songs, which he recorded on CD [and which is now available on iTunes]. 

In addition to singing, he still composes.  “Currently I am working on my first opera.  It will be buffa, but again, not so much.  I will reveal more.  So far, I am writing it just for myself but perhaps it will be performed,” he hopes.

 

 

 

 

   

Rehearsal

 

 

 

Click on the image above to watch an amazing short video!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Last Updated:  Sunday, March 19, 2017  © Copyright: Kira