Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director




Operas:  Carmen

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Carmen in Warsaw - 2004




 16 June 2004, Wednesday, 7-10.30 p.m. (Moniuszko Auditorium)

Opera in four acts
Premiere of this production - 30 September 1995
In the original French

Conductor - José Maria Florencio Júnior
Director - Lech Majewski
Set Designer - Janusz Kapusta
Costume Designer - Hanna Bakuła
Choreography - Janina Niesobska
Chorus Master - Bogdan Gola


Ekaterina Semenchuk (Carmen), José Cura (Don José), Mikołaj Zalasiński (Escamillo), Izabella Kłosińska (Micaëla), Artur Ruciński (Dancairo), Krzysztof Szmyt (Remendado), Jacek Janiszewski (Zuniga), Robert Dymowski (Morales), Anna Lubańska (Frasquita), Anna Karasińska (Mercedes)

Chorus, Ballet and Orchestra of the National Opera

“Carmen” is one of the most popular operatic works in the world, due to its extraordinarily colourful music, lively temperament and special Spanish “exoticism”, the artistry and elegance of its texture, its brilliance and splendour, combined with an excellent libretto. The music contains the best qualities of the French opera style, though some Italian influences are also present. This opera enjoys a permanent place in the repertoire of nearly all opera theatres around the world, it includes many popular arias, and is warmly applauded by audiences everywhere.


Once again we will have the pleasure of seeing the famous opera singer, José Cura, at the Teatr Wielki – National Opera. He conducted the Warsaw production of “Madame Butterfly” in April, and will now be singing the part of Don José in Lech Majewski’s production of “Carmen”.

José Cura first became famous for his rendition of the title role in Verdi’s “Otello”. After his performance in Turin in 1997, where he sang with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Claudio Abbado, the critics wrote in rapture: “A new Otello is born!” In 2000, the whole world could admire the Argentinean singer in a television version of “La Traviata”. He was dubbed “the fourth tenor.”

He gained huge popularity in Poland thanks to the release of the CD Era of Love, where he sings with the Polish soprano, Ewa Małas-Godlewska. During a concert promoting the record in November 2000, José Cura made his first appearance as a conductor before a Polish audience. That was the first time we saw him at the Teatr Wielki – National Opera. Exactly two years later, he accepted an invitation from the Warsaw theatre’s management to sing the part of Otello in the opera by Verdi. The performance, conducted by Jacek Kaspszyk, took place on 13 November 2002 before a full house. Apart from Cura as the star of the evening, the performance featured the Teatr Wielki’s leading soloists – Izabella Kłosińska, Anna Lubańska and Adam Kruszewski. This collaboration resulted in a joint visit to Japan in 2003, where the Warsaw production of “Otello” was highly acclaimed by audiences and critics alike.

Singing the part of Carmen will be Ekaterina Semenchuk, a young soloist of the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg – her first ever appearance in Poland. She studied at the Belarusian Academy of Music, the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and subsequently continued her vocal studies at the Maryinsky Theatre’s Academy of Young Singers. She is a prize-winner of international competitions, including the Placido Domingo Competition in Los Angeles. She has received great praise from critics world-wide for her interpretation of such parts as Carmen, Olga in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”, and Sonya in Prokofiev’s “War and Peace”. In this last part, she could recently be seen at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where she was acclaimed by the U.S. audience and critics. Together with the Maryinsky Theatre, she has performed in China, the United Kingdom (Covent Garden), Germany, Spain, Argentina, Austria (Salzburg Festival). She has also given recitals in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Argentina.



















In Concert - Rijeka, July 2006



Flower Song Video

Rijeka Concert July 06 - Carmen Flower Song








Seguilla Video

Rijeka Concert July 06 - Carmen Seguilla

















Bucharest 2007



Carmen Pursinge


Cristiana Visan

18 October 2007


José Cura’s Don José shocked the audience with his machismo, nerve, and intensity

The National Opera of Bucharest offered Saturday, within the framework of the Enescu International Festival, a show from their own repertoire, but with four guests from abroad—and the name José Cura filled nearly 1,000 seats in the hall. 

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

Cura’s Don José is an arrogant man, but in accordance to the natural instincts of a time in which machismo males could not easily tolerate the behavior of someone as free and powerful as Carmen, who first humiliates [Don José], then seduces the one-time Spanish soldier:  to Cura, the murder at the end of the work is not an act of jealousy but a natural response of a strong man who has been subjected to deep humiliation. Two scenes in particular create a breathtaking performance:  that of the third act, when Don José is called away by Micaela to visit his ailing mother—the violence on which Cura draws can almost read it on the face of Halevy—and the final crime, when the intensity of Cura’s performance erases any trace of theatricality, as if he had brought the boiling blood and nerves of Don José on stage…


Carmen at the National Theater

Radio Romania

Luminita Arvunescu

10 September 2007


First, a personal observation:  we are a duplicitous public—unhappy in our breaks, gossipy even, but at the end, generous with our applause.

Second, a detail that I hope will not offend anyone: José Cura, the famous Argentine tenor, a true star of today for whom the public ran last night to the opera—his Otello is magnificent, his Canio and especially his Samson exceptional, but his voice still seems ‘too heavy’ for the role of Don José.  His character starts as an assassin, without a trace of naivety….. 

Otherwise, what was seen in the first of four shows hosted by the National Opera of Bucharest under the current administration of the International Festival George Enescu?  A nice, impetuous José Cura with great artistic experiences, a singer with class, intelligence, and one who knows that “characters must be solidly built, because the stage has no mercy and you can fall at the speed of a meteorite,” an artist who probably anywhere would be surrounded by a magnetic field outside of which opinions are subject to mysterious forces and ultimately, his celebrity.

No wonder then that it was just him and about him that the public ovation, minutes and hours, unleashed and unrivaled; and besides whom the Carmen mezzo-soprano Hadar Halevy was unexpectedly dominated.

A success with the effect of a triumph for ….José Cura!















 Christoph Eschenbach and José Cura making statements about the death of Luciano Pavarotti



"Now he sings to God," Cura said, adding that "God was seeking an angel to sing, and now found the best voice."  (note:  this is a computer-generated translation)






















Flower Song - Bucharest 2007


Screen Grabs











José Cura, the Male Callas, at the National Opera House

Radio Romania Muzical

Mihaela Soare

9 September 2007

 [Excerpt:  this is a translation of an interview and may not be completely accurate due to variations in language and editing.  It provides an approximation and should only be used as a rough guide to the conversation]

 One of the best tenors of the moment, José Cura, will perform this evening at 6:00 PM in Bizet’s Carmen at the National Opera House.

With the physique of a gladiator, at age 45 Argentine Cura has been appointed by the international press as “a creature of the theater, a masculine version of Maria Callas.”

His career began after leaving his birthplace, Rosario, Argentina, in Verona where he made his debut nearly 30 years ago.  His voice, with its dramatic overtones and explosive dynamics, let him to a wide repertoire.  He has starred in Otello, Turandot, Stiffelio, Samson, and now plays Don José in Carmen

Tonight’s performance promises to be one of the great events of the current edition of the George Enescu Festival. 

Q:  Some of the partners with whom you will sing in Bucharest are Romanian whom you still have not met.  How comfortable is this?

José Cura:  It can be difficult, indeed, but we are fortunate in one respect:  we have a common language and that is music. So we can communicate easily even if we don’t speak the same language or have the same habits, the same tastes, even though we have different personalities.  When we hit the stage, do the same music, we are the same group.  That’s great for making music. 

Q:  You do not like to be compared with other tenors.  Is being known as the male version of Callas more satisfying?

JC:   Of course, it is just another way to compare. It doesn’t compare voices, which is something stupid, but readily available from the stage.  This is something very different.

Q:  What do you tell the young people at the master courses your support?  What are the most important things, the good and the bad?

JC:  First of all, respect the truth.  There is nothing worse for an artist than to pretend.  If you don’t have the benefit of a sense of real emotions, no one will see you.  You can have the best technique, the most beautiful voice, but nothing will happen. 

Q:  The wants perfection from the great artists.  How difficult is it to resist such requests?

JC:  It’s impossible to resist.  It’s part of the game.  The good thing in my case is that I’ve never been perfect.  It is true that people expect more of you when you are famous and every time you’re on stage they want you to be the top, the best.  But that is not always possible, because you are a human being!

The tenor José Cura has conquered the world with him powerful voice and dramatic register.


The Music Market is like a Grocery Store and We are like Tooth Paste



Cristiana Visan

8 September 2007

  [Excerpt:  this is a translation of an interview and may not be completely accurate due to variations in language and editing.  It provides an approximation and should only be used as a rough guide to the conversation]

He is considered the most electrifying tenor of the moment.  José Cura rose quickly up the hierarchy of singers in vogue in the nineties and the cultural marketing never hesitated to promote him as the new sex-symbol of the opera stage.  He is one of the few opera singers whose admirers number in the millions—in the case of Cura, we are talking about an audience with an overwhelming majority of admiring fans. In his first day of rehearsals in Bucharest, the tenor agreed to meet with the press, avoiding as much as possible (as with so many other stars scheduled to sing) the endless tiring interviews.  Even with all the fame of Cura, organizers didn’t expect journalists to storm the Yellow Foyer of the National opera but as it happened, Thursday was not a day like any other but rather the day when the world received notice of the death of the most popular tenor of the last fifteen years.  As a result, a larger than expected contingent of reporters arrived at the Opera, ready for discussion. 

The tenor surprised both organizers and journalists when at the last moment he arrived accompanied by soprano [sic] Hadar Halevy, who performs the role of Carmen, and Mario de Rose, conductor.  “Does anyone have their biographies?” could be heard about at the arrival of the other two, as the press had only been prepared to question a single star. “But what about translations?” asked others who had just learned that English was declared as the language for the discussion. 

Cura arrives in the Opera foyer fresh from an interview with national television.  According to some, he is taller than he appears in photos; others insist he is shorter.  In any case, no one could make an ethnic description of Cura:  mathematically, he’s 25% Italian, 25% Spanish and 50% Lebanese, but for him what matters most is the country where he was born: Argentina.  Finally the press conference starts, with the first words belonging to Valentina Sandu-Dediu, head of the festival’s press office, who requests a moment of silence in memory of Pavarotti: a silence to honor, accompanied by scattering strain of several photographers who rush to capture which of the faces of those present are most solemn. 

As expected, the first question was about Pavarotti. The questions itself was not unexpected nor that it was the tenor who was expected to answer: yes, it is a sad day for the artistic community but we must be careful not to use Luciano as an excuse to create news.  “As a man, I am happy his suffering has finally ended.” As a more metaphorical statement was still needed, Cura played his role well.  “If God wanted an angel, he now has one of the best voices singing for him.” Period.  Enough of Pavarotti.

A change in language, to Spanish, to the dissatisfaction of many of those present.  Cura’s quiet reply:  he answered in the language of the questioner, in this case, Spanish.  Yes, he repeated, this was his first time in Romania and he hoped it would not be his last, and no, he had not gotten a chance to see Bucharest at all, since it was the first day of rehearsals and it was also the day Pavarotti had died so it was far from an auspicious day for a walk through the city. No, he didn’t know the artists he would be performing with; he knew the conductor—his fellow countryman—but he had met the lovely soprano [sic] for the first time.

The next question required another change of language, this time to Italian (sighs from others).  Cura responded immediately about artists who dare to go to festivals:  a few, not everyone, can do it and in this case he knows the work but he would not attempt it with a new work.  Carmen has been familiar to him for more than twenty years, since he debuted as a conductor in Argentina until he made his debut as Don José in Europe in 1996 [sic]. 

“I already know it from all sides so within five minutes of the start of the show I can go and get straight into Don José.” Cura believes the character’s strength means you do not have to adapt to a new auditorium or staging. “On a normal stage, you just do not come across flying saucers or other crazy stuff, so you don’t need to anything more than to get into your role, become the character.”  Nor does he believe in the need to put everything in place during rehearsal.  “If during my thirty year career I did everything the same, it would be a disaster.” 

Cura is a performer and it shows:  this time, the stage is a press conference and he immediately went into character.  Art, after all, is a business as he says:  “The music market is like a grocery store, and we are like a tooth paste.  Some of us are more in demand than others because some toothpastes are better than others.”

He knew nothing about Enescu Festival before being invited to participate.  Holender is a friend and he gladly accepted the invitation to come to Bucharest but challenged the Romanian journalists:  “You must make the most of this international festival. You have good musicians, you must make it better known.”

It is hard not to like him: he has charisma, the Latino’s breathtaking ease of being and he is able to talk about anything. Don’t believe in rivalry between tenors. They do exist, of course, but he is friendly with fellow Argentine Marcelo Alvarez and Roberto Alagna.  “With Marcelo, we sometimes go out and like two pigs we eat and drink, though he beats me. We are Argentines, and when it comes to meat and good wine…” So was there anything like the friendship like Pavarotti-Domingo-Carreras among the young tenors?  Friendship is something personal but music is a profession. “We are all colleagues. You cannot be an enemy soldier in the camp but the press sometimes creates a theoretical antagonism to sell more copies. It sells better if you say José Cura hates Alvarez and Alvarez hates Alagna than to say we are good co-workers.”  

He considers himself more of a composer and conductor than singer.  He studied these for years before he realized he had a good voice and that it would be much easier to earn a place of honor as a tenor.  I asked him about his Requiem, composed more than twenty years ago at the end of the Falkland (Malvinas) War.  “I had planned to premiere it in 2007, 24 years after the end of the war, but I couldn’t find any Argentine institution willing to support me.”  Romanians would say, “Typical.”  Cura wanted to put the work on an opera stage with two choirs, one British and one Argentine.  Easy to say, hard to do:  the wounds of the war have long healed but still there is rawness; after all, the Falklands (Malvinas) are still recognized by the UN as British territories. In any case, Cura has not lost hope for his composition of the soul:  “I hope to put it on stage someplace, even if not in Argentina, before I die.” 

He returns to English and back to Carmen.  He describes his character with the same passion with which he plays him.  He does not believe that Carmen is romantic.  “The opera was revolutionary at the time and Carmen was the first feminist.  Think about it.  We talk about the colorful characters from Seville as being ahead of their time. Those women don’t walk around naked because they are whores but because it is 50 degrees in the shade, their clothes were soaked in sweat, and this is all reflected in the great sexual confrontation.”  This blazing feminist discourse aligns with how he thinks now while just a few years ago, he says jokingly, he was a "majestic male.”  Yes, Carmen has a message the world doesn’t want to see:  “The woman can be free and the man, an idiot.”  He declares Bizet’s opera to be “a great opera, with the problem of being too famous.”

It comes to the last question. Cura had previously worked with two Romanian artists. He sang the tenor lead in La Traviata with Angela Gheroghiu and remains impressed with Leontina Vaduva, with whom he made a documentary about the life of Puccini in 1996.  And so he ends with a joke, presenting the following story:  “In the scene where she dies in La Bohème, I was moved to tears.  The director told me it would make it better if I cried but I said you should not ask me such a thing.  This girl makes me cry all the time.”

Charismatic, vibrant, conquering.  For anyone who already has a ticket to Carmen tomorrow night, satisfaction is half guaranteed:  José Cura has been, until now, a nearly perfect Don José on many big city opera stages, so the applause at the Bucharest Opera will probably be extensive.     















Karlsruhe 2008





























Vienna 2009






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


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


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


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


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


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


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





Zurich 2009
















Munich 2009
















Last Updated:  Saturday, June 27, 2015  © Copyright: Kira