Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director

 

 

Prague Artist in Residence

 2016

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Maestro Cura Returns to the Podium!

Prague Residency

 

 

 

 

 

Prague Artist in Residence

 

Post-Symphonic Signing with José Cura and Maria Bisso

Post-Symphonic Signing with José Cura and Maria Bisso

   

 

Prague Master Class with José Cura

 

 

 

Computer-based   Translation

This translation  should not be considered definitive

 

 

José Cura in Prague as a Composer and Teacher

ČT24

[Excerpts]

 

Renowned singer José Cura will showcase uncharacteristic broad skills in Prague as a conductor, composer, and teacher.  In addition to the music of Sergei Rachmaninov and Ottorino Respighi, he will also conduct his own work, Magnificat.  He will then lead a master workshop in the Czech Republic, with the best participants being offered a chance to sing with the Prague Symphony Orchestra under his leadership.

[…]

According to Biblical tradition, the Magnificat is the hymn Mary sang before the birth of Jesus Christ.  The name is derived from the first verse in Latin (Magnificat anima mea Dominum).

“For me, the image of the Magnificat is that of a teenager.  Of course, we talk about the Virgin Mary but this was before she had the halo.  She was a young woman who had just learned she to be the mother of the Son of God.  Try to say this today to any girl on the street.  Certainly she underwent a major internal catharsis,” says Cura.

In addition to the concerts the world-famous tenor is also teaching.  He spent several hours with the Jitro Children’s Choir.  Together, they worked on the Magnificat.  Cura’s main goal with the young singers was to arouse enthusiasm for the music.

“Children are our future.  When we do not give them energy, we have a problem.”

He will also pass his experience on to a younger generation of Czech musicians during a master class.  He intends to focus mainly on the operas of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini with the singers and conductors.

“I am going to tell the students right off the bat that I will not be teaching them to sing, because it is a master class and not a workshop for beginners.  I assume in a master class you know how to sing.  I want to awaken in the students the tools that allow them not only sing but to be a professional singer and actor.  This is the next level,” said Cura. 

 

 

Click the image above to watch a video of José Cura (in Czech)

 

 

Click on the above photo for a short snippet by Cura on children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Symphonic Concert

 

Success!

 

 

 

The Reviews!

 

 

 

José Cura as Conductor

 

Novinky

FOK Prague Symphony leadership appointed Argentine singer and conductor José Cura as its artist in residence.  At Wednesday’s concert in the crowded Smetana Hall, Cura appeared for the first time as a conductor with the Prague Symphony Orchestra in a successful debut.

Perhaps, therefore, it was appropriate that the centerpiece of the program were vocal compositions—works by Rachmaninov, Respighi and Cura himself.  In two of them mezzo-soprano Dagmar Pecková was schedule to sing.  Eventually, she sang only Sunset….

In Cura’s Magnificat, a spiritual song written by Cura for the birth of his first child, Pecková was replaced by the Argentine soprano Mario Bisso, who together with the Prague Philharmonic Choir and the Jitro Children’s chorus created the extraordinary success of the song.

The highlight of the evening, however, proved to be the two works of Sergei Rachmaninov, in which Cura demonstrated his feel for the composer’s Orthodox faith and his admiration for Tchaikovsky.

 

 

 

Computer-based   Translation

This translation  should not be considered definitive

 

 

 

 

 

Computer-based   Translation

This translation  should not be considered definitive

 

 

José Cura in the Municipal House as Conductor and Composer

OperaPlus

Hana Ehlová

12 February 2016

 

Artist in Resident of the Symphony Orchestra FOK José Cura presented a pair of orchestral concerts this week in an unusual dual role, as both composer and conductor.  The acclaimed Argentinean tenor whose last work—an orchestral version of the musical-literary drama “If I die, survive me!”—was premiered by the Prague Symphony Orchestra in October of last year so we have notionally uncovered another of his many interesting artistic faces, which in one man is literally more than enough. (Cura also acts as an opera director and set designer.)

Although the evening’s program consisted of works by composers of the twentieth century, it was the works of a romantic nature with a spiritual touch in the first half of the concert.  Framed by works of Sergei Rachmaninov, the introduction of Vigil for mixed choir a capella op. 37 evoked an oddly serene atmosphere in the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House, which made listening to the excellent performance of the Prague Philharmonic choir (Lukáš Vasilek) literally an experience.

Whether it was the impressively big sound in Come, let us worship or the fine work in piano in Rejoice, O Virgin, the choir sounded at all times and in all voices beautifully balanced.  Individual long phrases were fully of tiny, dynamic details which amounted to music that was unusually lively and plastic.  Cura used these phrases in an extra special ‘stretched’ way, particularly in the conclusions, which resulted in literally forcing a more focused listening.

Respighi’s lyrical poem Sunset for mezzo soprano and string orchestrate worked against the unusually impressive introduction from the podium, unfortunately due to the performance of Dagmar Pecková.  

Although the vocal and orchestral lines of this evocative work intertwine interestingly, Pecková failed to take advantage in the song.   Her slightly veiled sotto voce was initially interesting but the vocal part got lost…and the individual peaks had little contrast.  This emotionally-charged mystical poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley tells the tragic fate of two lovers and in many places the song remained interpretively inert.

In the Czech premier of Cura’s Magnificat for soprano, children’s chorus, mixed choir and orchestra, Pecková was replaced by Spanish-Argentinean soprano Maria Bisso.

This work with the rich internal breakdown was written by the composer in 1988, after his wife had given birth to their eldest son.  As a result of his success as a singer, the work remained “in the drawer” for twenty-seven years, until Cura recently returned to it.  The composition requires a large cast, into which the composer cleverly worked a mezzo-soprano line which is never unnecessarily covered by other voices or instruments.  Interesting also was working with the actual melodies, in which Cura makes extensive use of chromaticism which makes the music special in “sliding” from one phrase to another but never quite deviating from the clear tonal center so that it was easy for listeners to follow. With the Jitro Children’s Choir he added an interesting, almost mysterious character, especially in the tense moments; the orchestra brilliantly performed the musical twists and sudden pauses.

The weakness of the entire piece for me personally was the fact that all of the above takes place in a relatively small space—that is, the song is not particularly long enough to serve as a basis for some dramatic scene and I would welcome the famous ‘less is more.’

Any embarrassment from the first half of the program was completely erased by the mighty Symphony No 2 in E Minor, Op 27 by Sergei Rachmaninov, chosen by Cura for his conducting debut in Prague, in his own words, for one simple reason—it is everything. This extensive opus (it lasts almost an hour) which literally pulled the composer back into life after the failure of his first symphony is the apotheosis of all that is romantic, from the initial Largo – Allegro moderato through the graceful Adagio third movement to the final Allegro vivace.  José Cura led the entire work from the first bars with an incredible inner calm so that not a single moment of the music disappeared.

The orchestra sounded with beautiful integrity, especially the truly bravura performance of the brass, the entire symphony literally flowing in a consistent stream of music, all without unnecessarily large conducting gestures.  Such natural and pure musicality is indeed literally rarely heard and given the prolonged acclamation in the hall, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who experienced this exact listening sensation.  Of all the previous musical experiences this season (ant there have not been enough!) this evening certainly ranks among the most memorable and I hope that it will sometime in the future be repeated. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Performance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Performance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rehearsal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Check out more photos at the Jitro Website 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous

 

 

 From Maria Bisso Facebook Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prague Artist in Residence - Symphonic Concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cura on writing his Magnificat:

I wrote the Magnificat in 1988. It was the International Marian Year, as declared by Pope John Paul II, and (the year) my wife, after having miscarried twice, found herself pregnant a third time. That third time, evidently, seemed to be (the) providential (one). I was 25 years old when my eldest son was born, at the same time as the Magnificat. Three years later, we emigrated to Europe seeking our fortune, and my career as a singer began. The work remained tucked away inside a box for 27 years.

The Magnificat, in my view —while running the risk of appearing irreverent, yet never wishing to be blasphemous— is, certainly, the quintessential Marian Song of Exultation, but it is (also) the song of an adolescent Mary, full of dreams as well as fearful of what was to come. Today, after centuries of dogmas, we forget that the Mother of the Church was, at the time of the Annunciation, a young girl in her early adolescence. That is why I cannot imagine this situation other than in a more human light: This is a girl to whom a stranger appears (or a light, a spirit, a dream, or whatever the preferred belief, given that we are dealing with the supernatural) who, without too many preliminaries, tells her: You will give birth to the son of God…. I believe that the shock must have been extreme and that the concatenation of feelings which accompanied her throughout her life right up to the moment she saw her son murdered, must have been, to say the least, devastating. It is in this spirit that I composed the Magnificat in 1988.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

José Cura Will Perform in Prague as a Conductor, Dagmar Pechová Will Sing

Kulturissimo

22 January 2016

[Excerpts]

 

Returning to Prague, FOK Artist in Residence José Cura will appear in two roles never before seen in the Czech Republic.  He will perform first as a conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra on 10 and 11 February, offering songs by Rachmaninov, Respighi, and Cura’s own Magnificant, sung by Pechová and choir. The world-famous tenor dedicates the following week to the younger generation of Czech musicians:  he will hold a master class focused on Italian operas for singers and conductors.

Cura accepted an offer to be an artist in residence with the Prague Symphony Orchestra was the intent to enrich his calendar with activities outside the traditional opera ‘box’ and this desire will be met in abundance in February.  After two evenings on stage at the Smetana Hall at the Municipal House in charge of not only the orchestra but also two choruses and a great soloist , the leading mezzo-soprano Dagmar Pechová.  For his conducting debut in the Czech Republic, Cura did not choose a simple repertoire.  Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony will be preceded by a selection from his Vigils, Respighi’s Sunset, and Cura’s Magnificat

The selection of tracks conceals a bit of a paradox.  Although all the works included are, without exception, written in the 20th Century—the Vigils in 1915, Sunset in 1914, the Magnificat in 1988 and the Second Symphony in 1907—stylistically they refer to the romanticism of the 19th Century and the inspiration goes even further, to the roots of Christianity, whether in the Catholic or Orthodox form.  Indeed, the romantic soul of José Cura was already introduced in Prague in his November concerts in which he so dramatically portrayed the poet Pablo Neruda.

In the week following the Prague Symphony Orchestra concerts Cura will get acquainted with the emerging generation of Czech musicians.  Talented singers and conductors have been invited to participate in a master-class.  They will pursue together the repertory which is unique to Cura, primarily the operas of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini.  Participants were selected on the basis of CVs and recordings.  The Prague Symphony Orchestra envisages involving these participants next season, in a project associated with José Cura.

And what about the Cura’s Magnificat?

I wrote the Magnificat in 1988. It was the International Marian Year, as declared by Pope John Paul II, and (the year) my wife, after having miscarried twice, found herself pregnant a third time. That third time, evidently, seemed to be (the) providential (one). I was 25 years old when my eldest son was born, at the same time as the Magnificat. Three years later, we emigrated to Europe seeking our fortune, and my career as a singer began. The work remained tucked away inside a box for 27 years.

The Magnificat, in my view —while running the risk of appearing irreverent, yet never wishing to be blasphemous— is, certainly, the quintessential Marian Song of Exultation, but it is (also) the song of an adolescent Mary, full of dreams as well as fearful of what was to come. Today, after centuries of dogmas, we forget that the Mother of the Church was, at the time of the Annunciation, a young girl in her early adolescence. That is why I cannot imagine this situation other than in a more human light: This is a girl to whom a stranger appears (or a light, a spirit, a dream, or whatever the preferred belief, given that we are dealing with the supernatural) who, without too many preliminaries, tells her: You will give birth to the son of God…. I believe that the shock must have been extreme and that the concatenation of feelings which accompanied her throughout her life right up to the moment she saw her son murdered, must have been, to say the least, devastating. It is in this spirit that I composed the Magnificat in 1988.

Computer-based   Translation

 

 

 

 

This is a general guide to the conversation

 

 

 

 

This translation  should not be considered definitive;  however, the final paragraphs are accurate ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

       

 

The Magic of the Two Concerts of José Cura and Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK)

 

10 and 11 February 2016

Municipal House

 Report and Photos by Zsuzsanna Suba

 After José Cura’s first two concerts – including his singing performance of the world premiere of the orchestral version of his musical-literary drama “If I die, Survive me!” he composed for Pablo Neruda’s poems - with FOK in last October, these recent occasions represented his second thematic concerts of his three-year artistic residency here with FOK in the Municipal House of Prague. This time he took on the multiple roles of conductor, choirmaster and composer also conducting his own composition as part of the rich program. The program somehow reflected the characteristic steps and features of Cura’s deep musical background and path according to his original vocation when he sang in choirs and primarily worked as choirmaster, composer and conductor. He, the musicians of FOK and the invited singers and choirs offered wonderful achievement on both nights and harvested memorable success. José Cura acted like a magician conjuring various stunts out of his pockets including an extremely powerful and sensational interpretation of Rachmaninov’s magnificent Symphony No. 2.

Programme:

SERGEI RACHMANINOV Vigil (selection) („Vespers”)

OTTORINO RESPIGHI The Sunset („Il Tramonto”)

JOSÉ CURA Magnificat

SERGEI RACHMANINOV Symphony No. 2 in E minor Op. 27

Maria BISSO | soprano

Dagmar PECKOVÁ | mezzo-soprano

 

PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC CHOIR

Lukáš VASILEK | choirmaster

 

CZECH CHILDREN’S CHOIR JITRO

Jiří SKOPAL | choirmaster

 

PRAGUE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

 

José CURA | conductor

Full house welcomed both evenings. The ambitious program consisted of rarely performed and interesting pieces. These involved increasing challenges for the musicians and their conductor regarding to the difficulties and complexity of these musical works.  In the first part of the concert we listened to a mixed choir, followed by a mezzo-soprano with string orchestra, and then we had a mixed choir, children’s choir, symphonic orchestra and soprano together on the stage performing the works of Rachmaninov, Respighi and Cura. We learned from the program booklet, that Sergei Rachmaninov and Ottorino Respighi are two of Cura’s favourite composers. Indeed they all were well equipped with romanticism, passion and the ability to project and display extended emotions including joy and melancholy too.  After the break we listened to the full Prague Symphony Orchestra with a very strong string department on board in Rachmaninov’s huge Symphony No. 2.

Each of the three works of the first part of the concert had almost the same, comfortable length of about a quarter of an hour. The first number of the evening represented five short songs from Rachmaninov’s Vespers, which is an a capella choral composition and the texts were taken from the Russian Orthodox “All Night Vigil” ceremony.  It was sung by the spacious Prague Philharmonic Choir. The singers occupied the rear wall of the stage standing on and filling the upper levels of the gallery in the podium in more rows.  José Cura conducted the singers with his hands only without using a baton. They all lived together with the vivid music creating a perfectly sharpened, unique sound of high purity and tonal beauty. We were touched by the beautiful development and unity of the performance as well as by the diversity and dynamism of the sublime, haunting melodic lines. The selected pieces conveyed lively and yet solemn atmosphere in their recurrences and nice connectivity. José Cura and the choir perfectly highlighted and extended the exceptional effects of the sound emphasizing the clarity of intonation, bare power and fineness of human voices. I have to admit I’ve never heard such a large choir producing this kind of highly-polished, passionate and still very airy and natural performance before. I loved those beautiful moments as they froze the sound of the different voices in perfectly shaped ensembles showing superhuman accuracy and quality. They provoked the admiration of the audience giving real pleasure and unknown surprise to us wishing to know more about this repertoire in the future. Great applause granted them for this achievement.

Then Dagmar Pecková mezzo-soprano came to the stage and was accompanied by the string part of FOK in Respighi’s vocal work, Il Tramonto (The Sunset). Respighi’s lyrical drama was inspired by Shelley’s poem.  The mezzo-soprano and the strings acted together to evoke the tragic story of a young couple in which we heard the romantic memories of the woman about her dead lover including also the tragic end and her suffering and laments of her mourning. We enjoyed a nice interaction between the different parts of the delicious orchestral music and the vocal while we were listening to the fine, subdued voice and soft tone of the singer during their intimate, emotional performance. The music was abundant in soft, sweet, romantic tones but as the story progressed it became fearful and dark. This was a difficult piece indeed requiring great attention and concentration from everybody. The real peculiarity of their performance was the way as the sound of the strings undulated with impressionist brushwork like an escorting landscape of the expressing emotions in terms of intensity and colourfulness. Their role varied according to the emotional range of the vocal passages varying from touchingly soft, gentle attendance to more powerful, leading force. José Cura did an elegant and comprehensive job in the podium. They managed to create a colourful harmony between all the participants and drew our attention to the particular, smart solutions of this exotic music of great melancholy. Yet, the volume and dynamics of the vocal performance could have moved on greater scale a bit to fully grab our imagination during the piece. A good amount of applause arrived to the stage from the audience acknowledging the nice performance of this rarely performed particular work of Respighi.

Then we were looking forward to encountering with the Czech premier of Magnificat, José Cura’s own composition. He composed it in his youth, at the age of 26 in 1988, in the early phase of his musical carrier inspired by the birth of his first child. The only performance of the piece, its world premiere was held in the Teatro Massimo Bellini di Catania in 2015. It is worth quoting José Cura’s words from the program booklet: “The Magnificat, in my view  - while running the risk of appearing irreverent, yet never wishing to be blasphemous  - is, certainly, the quintessential Marian Song of Exultation, but it is also the song of an adolescent Mary, full of dreams, as well as fearful of what was to come.” Thus he imagined her situation in a “more human light” which completely reflects Cura’s creative spirit and intention to express Mary’s extreme, shocking and cathartic feelings in this composition.

Every part of the stage was filled with musicians from the top to the bottom of the stage (Prague Philharmonic Choir, Czech Children’s (Girl’s) Choir Jitro, FOK orchestra and Maria Bisso soprano), so more than 100 musicians were gathered together under the direction of our conductor representing a great spectacle in this beautiful concert hall.

The Magnificat had an enormous impact on the soul of the audience through the musicians’ splendid performance. José Cura delivered a fresh, exciting, dramatic and profoundly modern work representing wide arrays of emotions and dynamic structures working with gripping musical ideas. The soprano Maria Bisso in Mary’s figure launched and led the piece in her gradually revealing hymn, and then all the other participants joined to her. They soon produced a richly shaded, powerful and rhythmical sound accompanying her narration. Each main participant had distinct role but they worked together in an amazing, crystal clear harmony and control lead by José Cura’s superbly sharpened, warm and motivating guidance. The exceptional power and quality of their performance always ensured the high tension and fluent connection of the various musical parts and recalled the exploring attention of the audience too. Maria Bisso’s slim figure represented fragility but she also appeared as a real, human figure in her shining, determined and transparent soprano. Many feelings were palpable in her singing lines ranging from fear, pain and anxiety to expectation, joy and dignity responding also to the reactions of the surrounding musical environment. The choirs and orchestra acted as an untouchable, majestic source of sounds first echoing together with the presence of little bells too. Then their cooperation became more complex and it conveyed heated, diverse emotions. The music effectively displayed the mixing and alternating moments of the various interactions of the protagonists showing different touches and effects of the reactions in terms of intimacy or publicity according to Mary’s prayer.

It was interesting to discover how the various appearances and connections of human voices became the main protagonists. The orchestra and mainly the strings were responsible only for imposing accompaniment, while the other instruments had little roles only for the sake of some specific effects. My favourite parts were the very rhythmical, returning and completely surprising musical sequence when we heard the powerful, large choirs cited the words “Fecit potentiam in bracchio suo in different order and growing intensity creating a really dramatic, almost shocking, loud whisperings followed by the sharp, jerky, scream-like sound of the violins expressing perhaps their admiration or initial doubt about the news of the miracles. After a sudden break we heard the commotion of emotions in the subsequent whispers, little screams and in the erupted, united sound of the choirs and orchestra. When the voices subsided, some moments later gathering all the singers and musicians together the drama started to develop again gradually even with greater force, almost tearing the swirling musical melodies apart at one point with the returning effects of the previous, exalted sequence. In the meanwhile another, new musical layer appeared bringing the central motif of the piece to the light in the revived soprano solo. The concluding high-tensioned part of the piece centred mainly on the continuation of Mary’s hymn emphasizing the role of the soprano and the Children’s Choir here. We experienced a truly exceptional performance of the Children’s (Girl’s) Choir Jitro, in the form of their unique, ethereal and resounding sound which often softened the dramatic content of the music and lifted it up with youthful innocence and sublimity.  All the beauty, power and whirling emotions of the singers and musicians were united into a great, final climax at the end crowned by a steely, God-like bass voice “Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto” completed by the choirs repeating „Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in Saecula saeculorum. Amen. Then we listened to the concluding, gentle sound of the choirs, Mary’s last words and the fading notes of the orchestra.

We were eager to join to the audience’s immediate, uniform and intensive plaudits and eruptive emotions celebrating the musicians and our conductor/composer for long minutes in more returning waves. José Cura generously passed our loud and enthusiastic acknowledgements to the singers, the choirs’ choirmasters, plus the various sections of the orchestra. Then we all needed to take a rest in the intermission.

The main core and attraction of the concert came in the second part with Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2. This music was not an unknown piece for us in José Cura’s interpretation. He was the principal guest conductor of Sinfonia Varsovia when he recorded the complete version of the symphony with this orchestra in 2001 and their CD achieved great critical acclaims.  I still remember that beautiful concert when I heard this symphony live with Cura conducting his Sinfonia Varsovia in the Wiener Konzerthaus in 2002. They earned an unforgettable, well-deserved ovation of the audience for their glorious performance. Another miracle happened again now, here in Prague with the Prague Symphony Orchestra 14 years later even in another extent considering the exceptional consistency, high quality symbiosis and devotion of their work together producing a dazzling presentation of the score.

I had the immediate and overall impression, that José Cura conducted the whole concert but especially this symphony in the spirit of his artistic credo, performing and validating the formula of “very hot heart and very cold mind” brilliantly throughout the evening. Cura’s guidance and conducting style was really determined and rock-solidly confident as he led the orchestra through the 60-minutes long music with immense concentration and focus. He applied simple but expressive, elegant and talkative musical instructions of his baton and body language and he didn’t let the control out of his hands for a single moment. He also expressed his gentle feelings (smile, joy or praise) with small gestures toward the orchestra giving immediate feedback to the musicians. You felt, that he had never let a note running unnoticed during the performance of this monumental score. Counterbalancing the subtle melancholy of the symphony, José Cura tirelessly maintained the impetus/dynamism of his characteristically temperamental, fresh and tight tempo which gave a second, triumphant soul to the piece. He really made the orchestra work hard and the musicians followed him with open heart and unconditional devotion too. It brought fresh air and energy into the concert hall resulting freely flying music making of one wavelength from the beginning to the end. They produced a wonderfully articulated performance which boasted of its imaginative sharps, superbly dense colours, high level of harmonic arches and vitality.

Their inexhaustible energies captivated the vivid attention of the audience so much that we didn’t perceive the passage of time. This was especially valid for the long, very emotional storytelling of the first movement. It was really thunderous sometimes and they beautifully highlighted the extraordinary whirls of the evolving, eruptive and fading climaxes reminding us to the various phases of an unpredictable, raging, turbulent sea-storm. In the second, fiery movement their musical vigour explored and demonstrated the thousands of musical ideas of the composer which was coupled with playfulness and emerging, soft lyricism. The third movement was indeed very emotional and passionate. In the harrowing, centred, great motif of suffering José Cura grabbed and hang on the protected rail of the conductor’s podium with his two hands and used the swinging movement of his body only to reflect the almost unbearable, tearing painfulness of the melodies toward the musicians and us. Then they arrived in perfect shape for the beautiful opening and evolution of the triumphant highpoints of joy and rolling relief. In the performance of the fourth, concluding movement the musicians still preserved and even increased the levels of energy and freshness creating continuous joy of music making. They worked finely on the rhythmical variations and highlighted the unrestrained, soaring sides of the melodies. They also raised the intensity up to a large-scale vision from which there was no return. So at the end of the symphony, when the last notes were suddenly muted, it compelled the whole audience to produce a united, huge cumulated sigh and expression of common joy for this extremely powerful, incredible experience.

Then the podium was flooded by frenetic applause and other different forms of acknowledgments of the audience. Our conductor again happily passed his and the audience’s compliments to the musicians and the many sections of the orchestra. In the middle of this long celebration it was José Cura who curbed our seemingly endless cheering leaving the podium first and thus the orchestra left the stage too and the concert was finished.  Following the known formula, after the performance we gladly took part in a nicely organised signing session of José Cura and Maria Bisso to prolong the evening with the personal encore of the artists.

We certainly will attend to the following concert of José Cura and FOK in Prague next season too in order to experience the particular atmosphere, power and musical enjoyment of their concert again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

José Cura's Program Notes

 

Once upon a time, to be famous, you ought to be good, and to be “so-famous-that-you-could-be-considered-an-icon, an example or an inspiration to follow”, you needed to be not only good, but great.

Today, that we like it or not, a smart use of the mass media, the social network, the internet, allows almost everybody to have their moment of glory… So much so, that to be famous has lost any meaning. That is why, working with young singers, either directing them in a show or improving their skills in masterclasses, is one of my preferred experiences: avoiding mediocrity has to be our crusade! Insisting again and again, mostly with the example, that “A good barbecue is not about the amount of smoke you produce (social networks), but about the quantity of real meat you put on the grill (talent and skill)”, is a mission for artists with enough age and career to be considered “masters”. That’s the reason I insist so much in the word “master” in my lessons: a “master” class is such activity in which someone who “masters” something, takes time and pleasure in passing his knowledge to others. But those “others” need to be already at such level that the master can really work with them in a mature way. Otherwise, if you have to low down the level of the teaching so that it is easily understood, we wouldn’t be talking of “master” classes, but of “beginners” classes.

The Czech Republic, from Emmy Destinn to nowadays, has always been a pool of great voices. And the new generations are not disappointing us: lots of young singers with voices of quality that need artistic help —working with good “maestri”— and administrational help —being represented by honest agents and engaged by objective and courageous opera managements. Am I too idealist? Maybe. In any case, I take special pleasure in passing on my experience to the new generations.

For this, my first masterclasses in Prague, I got not only a handful of good voices to work with, but also lots of students sitting in the auditorium, absorbing every single drop of energy I could deliver: A dream for the pedagogue in me! But if this was not already big enough to make me feel satisfied, the biggest reward was to witness how the group, that started as a bunch of individualities, ended being a single block of humans tying bonds in order to face together the challenges I was putting them in front. Challenges that are more or less the same for each of them and that it is always better not to tackle alone. Watching them collaborate, yet healthily competing rather than egoistically fighting, made me feel very proud. I wish this could be more usual in our job. The day we will stop fighting out of jealousy and we would start building up things together, the future of the theater, actually in great struggle, will be bright.

José Cura

 

 

Program

 

 

 

 

 

RUGGERO LEONCAVALLO /1857–1919/

Pagliacci

Prologo (Si può?, si può?) – Aria of Tonio

José Cura

Intermezzo

GIACOMO PUCCINI /1858–1927/

La bohème

Sì, mi chiamano Mimi – Aria of Mimi from Act I

Barbora Řeřichová Perná

 

O soave fanciulla – Duet of Mimi and Rodolfo from Act I

Barbora Řeřichová Perná, José Cura

  

RUGGERO LEONCAVALLO /1857–1919/

 

Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Ouverture

 

Una voce poco fa – Aria of Rosina from Act I

Dana Šťastná

 GEORGES BIZET /1838–1875/

 

Carmen

Habanera (L’amour est un oiseau rebelle) – Aria of Carmen from Act I

Barbora Polášková

 

C’est toi, C’est moi – Duet of Carmen and Don José from Act IV

Barbora Polášková, José Cura

 

 přestávka

 

GIUSEPPE VERDI /1813–1901/

 

Macbeth

Come dal ciel precipita – Aria of Banco from Act II

Lukáš Hynek-Krämer

 

Il Trovatore

Madre, non dormi – Duet of Azucena and Manrico from Act IV

Ester Pavlů, José Cura

 

Rigoletto

La donna è mobile – Aria of the Duke of Mantua from Act III

Ján Kostelanský

 

La forza del destino

Ouverture

 

Don Carlo

O don fatale – Aria of Eboli from Act IV

Ester Pavlů

 

Aida

L’abboirita rivale a me sfuggia – Scena and duet of Amneris and Radames from Act IV

Alžběta Vomáčková, José Cura

Barbora POLÁŠKOVÁ

Ester PAVLŮ

Barbora ŘEŘICHOVÁ PERNÁ

Dana ŠŤASTNÁ

Alžběta VOMÁČKOVÁ

Ján KOSTELANSKÝ

Lukáš HYNEK-KRÄMER

 

… and José CURA | singing

 

SYMFONICKÝ ORCHESTR HL. M. PRAHY FOK / PRAGUE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

 

Marco COMIN | conductor

 

There are a few singers who will probably forever remember one February week in 2016. In the Pálffy Palace, the FOK artist in residence José Cura conducted masterclasses, and they were really special. Cura awoke the passion in their voices – and consequently also the depth – through Guisppe Verdi’s and Giacomo Puccini’s music. But a real masterclass has to culminate in a gala concert, and in this case the masterclass participants will perform alongside José Cura. The concert will undoubtedly demonstrate that the singers understand each other not only as musicians, but also as human beings. And what else should music lead to …? 

 The concert is being held under the auspices of the Embassy of the Argentine Republic to the Czech Republic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Videos

 

On Slavic Voices

On the concert

 

On his MasterClass Students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

José Cura considers Lady Life to be the Best Teacher

Deník

17 October 2016

 

Prague – The world famous tenor José Cura returns in his role as resident artist with the Symphony Orchestra, which on Wednesday will introduce to Prague the country’s students from earlier master classes.  The multi-talented Argentinean tenor, who last year passed on his experience to a younger generation of Czech singers, considers his best teacher to be Lady Life.  He said this on Monday when he met with reporters and discovered that the Czech word for life is masculine.

“In Spanish, life is feminine (la vida), so it seems that in this Spanish is more modern,” he said with a smile.

At the concerts on 19 and 20 October at Prague’s Municipal House Orchestra FOK, José Cura and his students perform works by Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, Georges Bizet and Ruggero Leoncavallo.  It is in this repertoire that Cura is singular. 

Participants in his week-long masterclasses were selected on the basis of resumes and recordings.

"I consider the importance of the courses to be that young singers have the opportunity to know that if they go after something strongly, they can prove it," Cura told the media.

 The problem with the younger generation is that they try to achieve their careers without growing their own personalities.  “It is not enough to be able to sing to be among the best and achieve celebrity,” said the critically acclaimed and widely-loved “tenor of the 21st century” who became famous for his original interpretations of the heroes of Italian and French operas as well as his unconventional and innovative concert performances.

One of the challenges for local singers is the need to master foreign languages, especially to sing operas in Italian.  “For someone who does not have Italian as part of his or her DNA, it is not easy.  You need to go to Italy, to live there for several months and absorb the way the speakers of the language think,” he recommended. 

Cura returns to the Czech Republic frequently.  He last appeared in February this year when, in his role as the FOK residential artist, he was introduced at the Municipal House as a conductor and composer.  In November (2015) he dramatically played the poet Pablo Neruda

His performances have made him a fixture at such leading opera houses as the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna State Opera, the Grade Liceu, the Zurich Opera and La Scala.

 

 

 

 

  

 

José Cura’s spectacular concerts with the participants of his masterclasses and Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK)

 

19 and 20 October 2016

Municipal House, Prague

 

Report by Zsuzsanna Suba

It was a really pleasant and unmissable idea to travel to Prague and enjoy the spectacular colours of autumn in this sunny October together with two promising concerts in the Municipal House of Prague led by José Cura. As part of his three-year artistic residency with the Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK), he held a week-long Masterclasses in Prague this year in February. Now they took the opportunity to organize two concerts with the participation of his best “students” and FOK in two consecutive evenings. The first thing that grabbed our interest was the unique composition of the program. It was really rich and challenging containing well selected, dramatic, airy or even humorous musical pieces including operatic solos from the participating young singers and José Cura, their great and rare duets with the performance of the Master and orchestral intermezzo or overtures of more or less well-known operas.

Thus we had the chance to enjoy José Cura’s performances in such an exciting and spacious repertoire (La Bohème, Carmen, Il Trovatore, Aida) in which he didn’t sing too often nowadays and we could also discover his interaction with his young partners. The other surprise and key feature of the concert appeared in the person of the young conductor, Marco Comin. He already attracted our attention last year, when he conducted José Cura’s two beautiful and unforgettable Otello performances in the Hungarian State Opera in Budapest achieving great success on both sides of the podium with his baton.

The Municipal House was well-filled on both evenings and we sensed a particular atmosphere in this beautiful concert hall. The concerts were dominated by slim and pretty, attractively dressed female singers, who had the capability to grab our attentions from the stage. Four young ladies represented mezzo-soprano voices besides having one soprano, one bass and one tenor among the young singers. Some of them sang one solo aria and also one duet with their Master, José Cura, while others performed only one aria. For me one of the greatest benefit and value of the events was to follow how professionally they managed to show and emphasize the beauty and quality of each individual voices, its personal stamps and characters in the singers’ high level performances. This spoke not only about the trademark of high standards of their famous Master and Mentor, José Cura in terms of expectations and performing power but also about the impressive results of their hard work together during the masterclasses and preparation phase of the concert. These two occasions and their achievements really represented exceptional opportunities for these young singers to encounter with the audience in hot circumstances and smell the essence of preforming art and its reward. Thus the full audience was grateful for this and proud of their own singers. We expressed the erupting success of the concerts with frenetic applause coupled with final, spontaneous standing ovations on both nights.

Of Course José Cura was the soul and engine of the program performing two solos and four duets on the stage. His first aria, the Prologue from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci introduced the concert while his generous encore (Nessun dorma), his usual bravura performance in Calaf’s aria closed the program provoking the second standing ovations of each night. Between these two solos, he remained modestly in the “background” either by escorting his young female “students” to the stage door with warm hands and encouraging smiles or by gently underlying the tenor part of the duets in the service of his partners. Even in these latter cases he gave his whole heart, his very honest and passionate artistic approach and vocal involvement to his partners and to the audience without any compromise. His versatile, caressing voice and protective body language always radiated empathy and encouragement toward his partners while he fully immersed himself into the various dramatic characters. It was a beautiful process to notice and realize how remarkably his young partners grew into their roles and became equal participants in their artistic and vocal expressions displaying dynamism, convincing vocal portrayal, courage and confidence. We’ve got matured artistic performances and full-valued high quality concert experiences from all the young participants.

José Cura’s voice was shining in its full beauty. His velvety, dark voice soared through the hall freely and generously in his playful and radiating baritone solo (Prologue). Then his natural and easy-going, flexible tenor voice also transmitted youthful, bright colours and light-hearted love and passion (La Bohème). His voice also conveyed enthrallingly soft and tender passages in his most honest and devoted emotional confessions (Carmen, Il Trovatore). His singing-acting performance also revealed his extreme dramatic power displaying crazy, murderous determination (Carmen) or unwavering pride and nobility (Aida) in the most tensed moments.

The third and very powerful participant of the concerts became the virtuoso orchestra of the House (FOK) led by Marco Comin. He had clear, determined and firm musical ideas for every musical number. He communicated with his musicians with his elegant baton and body language very effectively and naturally. The excellent musicians followed him with great enthusiasm and sharpness, showing us their graceful and energetic, sizzling teamwork and valuable, competing instrumental solos in the key moments. The well-selected orchestral pieces represented unique concert experience according to the achieved beauty of the sound, its dramatic power or musical playfulness and humour. But above all they ensured an outstanding and selfless, inspiring accompaniment to the singers.

 

Let’s write something about the details focusing on the second evening. Already the symphonic introduction of the Prologue from Pagliacci established well the pleasant atmosphere of the concert and immediate bound between the orchestra and the audience. I strictly kept my eyes on the entrance of the auditorium to discover José Cura’s figure among the spectators. Unlike his habit, this time he started to sing Tonio’s aria (“Si può?, si può?”) from the stage. He entertained us and the musicians brilliantly displaying the incredible warm timbre of his soaring voice and abundant acting ability while he coloured his bitter and ironic storytelling. The House’s warm applause was very talkative expressing love and joy in the story of a long friendship between the audience and the artist.

 

This paved the way for a magnificent Intermezzo of the same opera. Then we enjoyed Mimi’s aria from Puccini’s La bohème (“Sì, mi chiamano Mimi”) in the performance of Barbora Řeřichová Perná, the only soprano of the program. She was also fortunate to stand in the duet of Mimi and Rodolfo (“O soave fanciulla”) on José Cura’s side. Both her sweet appearance and vivid voice were pleasant to our eyes and ears in this difficult aria. I liked her playful and confident portrayal, the slight vibrato of the voice and also its dignity in the solid high notes. She proved her performing skills again in the next duet when she took on and held the energy, volume and funny winks of his famous partner in the dynamic arches and candid secrets of the melody. It was a real pleasure to listen to José Cura’s melting voice and notice his very gentle, invisible, but careful support toward his young partner in the duet. Their interaction brought some laughing moments especially when our tenor’s provoking but very delicate whisper (E al ritorno?) was “heard” and she received it with an advanced smartness. They deserved the huge applause.

 

The ensuing Overture from Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia represented another planet in musical finesse, quick tempo and refreshing virtuosity. I felt, that we were asked to participate in a conspiracy to observe all the little tricks and musical twists in the playful, recurring elements of this pleasant overture during the lovely cooperation of the conductor, Marco Comin and the orchestra. Then Rosina’s aria followed (“Una voce poco fa”) by Dana Šťastná. Her brave and varied performance awakened and maintained my attention during her long aria. She had fine voice and interesting timbre that was coupled with great stamina to deal with the rich coloraturas in her cavatina impressively. This two numbers received very enthusiastic, strong applause from the rows.

 

The Carmen-block closed the first part of the concert. Just as in the case of all the performing young ladies, we’ve not only seen a pretty girl, but a diva when Barbora Polášková stepped to the stage in her Habanera. She started the aria with an amazingly flowing, rich voice showing off the unique stamp of its excitingly dark, slightly husky timbre from the first moment. She turned into a real, dangerous seducer and produced a well-designed, flirty storytelling with secure and elegant high notes. Though she would have put a bit more variety in her body language, she delivered a ripened rendition of the aria. She managed to show more faces of Carmen in the next duet with José Cura’s Don José (“C’est toi, C’est moi”). Here our tenor depicted every bit of the soul of Don José, addressing his words directly into the bottom of Carmen’s heart in his beautifully unfolded, soft and passionate prayer. It touched everyone in the room except Carmen. Then, after a dramatic change, his fanatic Basque dominated the stage driven by despair and murderous anger. Their chemistry was convincing and full of passion as the dramatic tension increased. Yet, our young mezzo stood extremely firmly by her cold, refusing behaviour and she didn’t soften her heart not even for a moment provoking her fatal destiny. Huge, fiery applause granted them.

The second part of the concert was dedicated to Verdi. The fantastic Overture of Luisa Miller acted again like an explosion displaying plenty of colours and fizzles of the music and the orchestra during their very dynamic and responsive fulfilment. The following piece represented a rarely performed aria from Macbeth sang by the only bass, Lukáš Hynek-Krämer (“Come dal ciel precipita”aria of Banco). He shaped well his big and particular voice in this melodious aria and brought a good contrast into the program comparing it to the previous voices. Then Ester Pavlů and José Cura came to the stage (“Madre, non dormi” – duet of Azucena and Manrico) and stirred the atmosphere of the hall again with their beautiful duet from Il Trovatore. Ester Pavlů gave one of the most matured and exciting performances of the evening on the stage. Her young, firm and attractive mezzo-soprano voice and well-balanced performing style carried nice vitality and expressiveness throughout the duet. She was able to transmit every little vibration, doubt or frightening, dramatic feeling of Azucena’s troubled soul. José Cura brought his best elements to the stage while he lived Manrico’s role delineating exceptional empathy and affection in his voice and singing lines. He showed an unforgettably devoted support from the “background” to his partner demonstrating the unique softness and warmth of his caressing voice and flexible timbre here not sparing with the energy on the passionate passages either. Their excellent harmony and partnership contributed well to the enjoyment of the different phases of the duet during their remarkable storytelling. The tenor last notes acted like a truly enchanting lullaby for Azucena. We were grateful too and produced enormous applause for them.

 

After this, the famous aria “La donna è mobile from Verdi’s Rigoletto arrived to the stage in the performance of Ján Kostelanský’s tenor. He portrayed a pleasant, light and bright tenor to us in both timbre and tessitura, though the presented easiness and fluency of his performance somehow was mixed with little uncertainty and haste that affected the impact of the aria after the high note at the end. The orchestra was the main protagonist again in Verdi’s well-known Overture from La forza del destino. The stage almost sizzled over the fiery hands of the strings, but all the instrumental solos were excellent too in the rendition of this intensive, dynamic and very talkative overture. Bravo! Then Ester Pavlů returned to the stage with Eboli’s aria (“O don fatale”) from Don Carlo. She proved her great qualities again in this difficult solo displaying dramatic power, stamina and temperament together with healthy and confident high notes. She deserved the warm celebration of the audience.

 

The last number of the concert was my personal favourite. First we listened to Alžběta Vomáčková’s mezzo-soprano in Amneris’s solo that continued in a duet with the participation of José Cura’s Radames from Act IV (“L’abboirita rivale a me sfuggia”). I liked very much the exotic voice, the devoted, bold and queenly performance of this young singer whose acting voice was able to introduce both the good and bad sides of the character in her seductive and frightening lines. José Cura nicely played with his voice here. His Radames remained determined and heroic in his powerful rendering of the aria while he acted with honestly and pride in his final refusal.

After the end of the official program of concert, José Cura lined up the participants in front of the stage to give way the long and enthusiastic celebration of the audience. After some minutes of turbulent applause we produced spontaneous standing ovations. Then José Cura came to the stage to present us with his closing tenor solo, “Nessun dorma” as an encore. His young partners acted well as the members of a special choir during the famous melody, and then our tenor performed his never ending, visceral and free top note at the end. He was also busy to wave down the orchestra together with Marco Comin in their funny rivalry for the baton. He provoked our second standing ovations of the night with prolonged applause. After the concert we enjoyed a nice and well-organised autograph session of José Cura where he diligently fulfilled the abundant requests for his signings. He was also a gentle partner for little chats or joint photos which were very popular actions to spend a little time with the generous Master.

Both concerts were really excellent and specific experiences. The achieved success acclaims for continuation for such a diverse and spectacular support and cooperation with young singers as José Cura accomplished. We are looking forward to meet him in Prague again in early December in the occasions of his concerts for UNICEF where his exciting repertoire of Latin-American music will be presented.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Video

Click on photo to watch

Alberto Ginastera Dances from Estancia Op 8a

Wheat Dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                     
   
                                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the photo above to watch a video of José Cura conducting Alberto Ginastera Dances from Estancia Op 8a - Cattlemen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Last Updated:  Sunday, April 30, 2017  © Copyright: Kira