Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director




Operas:  Cavalleria rusticana

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Teatro Colón 2015


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José Cura's Concept of Development

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¡ Un éxito magnífico !


Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci @ Teatro Colón















Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  It is provided as a way to offer a general idea of the conversation and the ideas exchanged but should not be considered definitive


Caminito come to the opera with José Cura


Sandra De La Fuente

13 July 2015


Interview.  The great Argentinian tenor returns to the Colón with "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "Pagliacci".  In this set, the action takes place in the passage of La Boca.

“I do not feel comfortable doing young roles.  I feel intellectually dishonest," argues the Santa Fe tenor, based in Madrid.  José Cura has just begun chat with Ñ, in the dressing room that has been assigned in Colón.  After presenting in 2013 his particular vision of Otello, Cura returns to Colón to present the most famous operatic duo: Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, the Verismo operas that seem made ​​for him.

As on that occasion, not only did he sing—he was Otello in his own production and now he will be Canio in Pagliacci - but he is also responsible for the mise en scène and program notes.  And though his  physical attitude—energetic--almost as if were on stage trying to hide it, his dark eyes reveal the fatigue accumulated in so many days of dealing with the usual technical problems, as well as leading a human group often particularly susceptible as singers .

Your concern about the physique du role is unusual among the big names of opera, who struggle to leave certain roles even knowing that physical and voice calling them where else.

Yes, well, I know, Pavarotti was Rodolfo, but one would listen to him, not to see Bohème.  I feel uncomfortable about singing Turiddu.  Because I keep noticing that I'm a 50 year old man who does not look good dealing with the dilemmas of a boy of 20. I do not feel an old, but my sound is dark, and even though I have learned to hide it when necessary, I think that concealment is not good for the character.  I do not think I do any favors to the public in that costume.

Let's talk a bit about the implementation of these two works.  I know they will be located in the Caminito passage, the neighborhood of La Boca.  Tell me the reasons that led you to choose that location.

The reasons are obvious to us, but they were not at the Royal Opera de Wallonie, where this production premiered in 2012. Obviously, there is the issue of Italian immigration. It is that the Caminito is a perfect setting for the Verismo.  And that was the idea that came to me when Horacio Sanguinetti invited me to produce this pair in that opera season that never materialized. I was just singing Pagliacci in San Diego in 2008 when Sanguinetti came to me and asked me to create a production duo.  Then I thought it was an opportunity to design a tribute to Italian immigration of 1900s, I thought it would be ideal that all start to develop in the passage Caminito. So much so that the show begins with the voice of Gardel singing in the distance, his voice coming out of a radio.  The success in Europe was absolute.  Some critics wrote it was the best staging in the dramaturgical aspect that had been done in years. Then in 2010 I wrote a novella, Mamma Nunzia, which is the original name of Mamma Lucia.  There I imagined the coexistence of all the characters in one place and time. That was the idea I used in Liege in 2012, with that set that had been stored without being used.

For Many musicians and critics Cavalleria and Pagliacci are pure tuco, tremendous dramas, sentimental, without a really interesting storyline.  Do you share this idea?

Well, pasta with tomato and basil are just that but they are delicious and also you can eat them every day without the risk of developing clogged coronary arteries.

I do not know if that would be a great program ... listen Cavalleria and Pagliacci every day.

What I mean is that not everything simple is bad or disposable.  God is simple because it is unique.  The same applies to these works.  The Verismo movement was born almost like an allergic reaction to all that wonderful rhetoric of Wagner and those characters too heroic that Verdi created.  Verismo decided that describe characters of flesh and blood, people wrong, exposing their misery.  This is what the Verismo movement claimed as a flag.  That makes these operas appear to lack an intellectual engine.  But I say "apparently" because, in fact, those who do not want to study very much are the ones who  keep the external appearance and serves it as easy as it is not for nothing.  One can keep the issue of noodles with tomato and basil are just pasta and not worry about seeing what it is that makes this dish something so great.

From the musical point of view, the direct impact of these works is an achievement for you or you think they are easy to digest and not much else?

Regardless of which one you like more or less the musical depth of these works, its characteristic is that the word is not in the service of music, what is said, the text is no longer an excuse for music.  In Verismo the word is as important as the music.  It is very easy to find the right time to sing Verismo that is precisely the time that one uses for the spoken word.  One has to be able to say things without feeling pressured by the music.  It is very different from the rest of the repertoire. I think of the name Tannhauser because I'm preparing it for 2017: Wagner's beauty is impressive but it is based on the musical rhetoric.  Wagner approach requires an effort to understand what is happening musically.  On the other hand, the musical approach to these parts [Verismo] is immediate. The great success they have had over time is also based on that.  Of course, again, there is the risk that this immediacy is understood as vulgarity.  And yes, these works have moments of vulgarity, but not because they are themselves vulgar but because the script asks for moments of vulgarity.

An Example?

In Pagliacci, Tonio asks for a kiss from Nedda, but only when he feels humiliated by her are you pulled over.  She brings out a whip because he almost tries to rape her.  This is a time of tremendous vulgarity but it is not intended, you cannot ignore, but it is important to understand the hatred of Tonio.  You must know how to find balance in tone to tell the time.  I hope people will like this set, especially because the project is very much ours.  Is Caminito, there is a bandoneon, tango there is the voice of Gardel.  I hope the audience will feel proud because it is one of the few times that so purely an Argentine landscape is used in a classic.   

Well, Marcelo Lombardero located many of his productions in Argentina.  Without going any further, he did a Wozzeck at Villa 31.

Oh, I spoke out of ignorance.  I'm not so up to date with what occurs here.

However, realism and Italian immigration in Caminito seems more than adequate.  And the bandoneon, will sound or be like a folkloric element?

It will sound clear.  We will use in the intermezzo from Cavalleria.  That moment is for strings and organ.  The bandoneon is nothing more than a small, portable organ, so I thought that was very logical to introduce it in that environment.



Cavalleria rusticana at Teatro Colón

Direction / Staging / lighting by José Cura



















































Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  It is provided as a way to offer a general idea of the conversation and the ideas exchanged but should not be considered definitive


José Cura, the Return of the Tenor


 Sandra de la Fuente


The Argentine musician, who returns to the Colón this morning as stage director and singer, gives clues about his start and claimed the classical art.

Tenor José Cura has returned to Buenos Aires to present at the Colón his particular vision of the unbeatable duo that are Cavalleria Rusticana (Pietro Mascagni) and Pagliacci (Ruggero Leoncavallo), both framed by the picturesque Caminito passage.



The production had been commissioned by Horacio Sanguinetti during his short time in the direction of Colón in 2008. "As soon as I heard the proposal, the neighborhood of La Boca appeared to me," says Cura, in his clear and powerful voice. "The enthusiasm was enormous and gave me reference for many ideas. To the point, that I wrote a novella, Mamma Nunzia, in 2010".

As in 2013, when he made the production of Otello, Cura will be responsible not only the implementation (directing) but also for performing one of the main roles: he has chosen to play the clown Canio. And at the same time, he has also written extensive program notes.

By putting so many items under your control, are you not afraid of losing critical perspective? Is it not also a gesture of distrust toward the public that you rushed to clarify   concepts of your set in writing?

No. If so, there would be no textbooks at all, nor would your interview by necessary. I believe in explaining to the public the motivations, then to discuss them or not, especially in such complex operas. Note that few know that Turiddu and Santuzza are diminutive of Salvatore and Santa. The original name of Turiddu’s mother is not Mamma Lucia, but Nunzia, which is, in turn, a diminutive of Annunziata, so it's Annunciation. Lola is short for Addolorata, sorrow in Spanish. And if that were not enough, the story of Cavalleria takes place on Easter: as such a Savior, the son of Annunciation, dies at Easter after being betrayed by Doloroso and sold by a Saint.  And even more: the ceremony in which Salvador is delivered is a toast with red wine: a rite of blood.

I had never read Cavalleria that way. Beyond the program notes, will there be clues in the staging that allow the audience to recognize it?

There are clues, but music influences. That's a great fortune because it conveys mood and prepares the public;. but it is also tyranny, because it never stops. An actor can make the necessary pauses to convey the message, but the message in the music sometimes goes too fast. There are small details that I hope people see, but it can also happen what happened in Liege.

What happened there?

It happened that people came to several functions because they were felt there was more to discover. For example, the details of the toast, where Alfio is not like someone who comes out of nowhere and says, "Oh, they're all drinking wine." In my staging, Alfio, when he hears that there is commotion in the square that his balcony overlooks, looks out and Turiddu invites him down, invites him to provide; that is why it is that toast is a rite of blood. He is saying very quickly, with a gesture, "You and I know we have a problem and we need to fix it." The tradition of the people, which marks the title of the work, is that these problems are resolved with a duel. And the duel does not mean that the killer goes to jail, it has to be public, and that is understood as a duel of honor. These little clues are there, if you read them before. The reason I love this note is because it is a way of advancing what the audience sees. I always say we are professionals as well as artists and the audience for classical art in general should also be more "professional".


Because in classical art there is a great facade, but there is also the greatness that is all that can be found on it after several readings, that’s why it endures.  You have to read, to learn.; I always remember the first time I was in front of the Mona Lisa and I thought yes, that was fine, but it was no big deal, until a friend explained to me the perspective, the stroke;. in short, all the things that appear in this work. And of course, I froze. And I looked with new eyes. It is more enjoyable when one investigates, when we study a bit. That difference is what makes the classic art what it is.

What about Pagliacci?  Did you also put a lot of thought in this work that appears so simple?

Pagliacci is, indeed, much simpler.  Cavalleria needs more explanation. Otherwise, people stay with a Mexican telenovela afternoon: he arrived, she tucked her husband horns, he became angry and killed the lover. Pagliacci is more direct: a spade is a spade is a spade. [the bread is bread, the wine is wine.]

Can you describe it a little better?

It is the drama of a failed comedian who drinks and is a bit violent, and this violence affects all his company, which is also violent. His wife, who never ceases to be a girl, suffers. Not for lack of love-because she was welcome and cared for-but, in any case, for lack of tenderness. But what happens there is quite normal, it does not require a deep analysis to understand, although it does to develop them. And the Caminito windows let me explain some things better. Although here you do not have to go back to Greek tragedy.















Note:  This is a machine-based translation.  It is provided as a way to offer a general idea of the review but should not be considered definitive


La Boca, Operatic Territory

La Nación

Pablo Kohan

16 July 2015


Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci / with: Enrique Folger (Turiddu), Guadalupe Barrientos (Santuzza), Leonardo Estévez (Alfio), Anabella Carnevali (Mamma Lucia) and Mariana Rewerski (Lola); José Cura (Canio), Mónica Ferracani (Nedda), Fabian Veloz (Tonio), Gustavo Ahualli (Silvio) and Sergio Spina / Regie, scenography and lighting: José Cura / Orchestra and Choir of the Teatro Colon / General Director: Roberto Paternostro / Teatro Colón /

Our opinion: Very good

Cavalleria rusticana and pagliacci / with: Enrique Folger (Turiddu), Guadalupe Barrientos (Santuzza), Leonardo Estévez (Alfio), Anabella Carnevali (Mamma Lucia) and Mariana Rewerski (Lola); José Cura (Canio), Mónica Ferracani (Nedda), Fabian Veloz (Tonio), Gustavo Ahualli (Silvio) and Sergio Spina / Regie, scenography and lighting: José Cura / Orchestra and stable choir and choir of the Teatro Colon / general Directorate: Roberto Paternostro / Teatro Colón / our opinion: very good.

It was known that José Cura had decided to adapt Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci to transfer them from Sicily and Calabria to La Boca as a tribute to Italian immigration.  But more significant than the geographical and temporal translation of these famous lyrics sisters who are not twins, much less twin, also involved, in his concept, the meeting of both in one continuous show, transforming each of them in an act of a diptych which had a logical sequence. In the same space, the passageway Caminito, first happens Cavalleria rusticana and, five months later, Pagliacci. But not only that. The characters and the consequences of Mascagni's opera reverberate and manifest within the drama of Leoncavallo.  That entails some freedoms that go beyond a particular setting and the creative use of the stage area but other types of licenses, for example, rather than Tonio stating "La commedia è finita" Pagliacci in closing it is Mamma Lucia over the body of Silvio, whom she had taken almost as a surrogate son after the death of Turiddu.

Generally speaking, adaptations of time and space that are subjected to these lawful (and necessary) opera searches the director applies to give them a new meaning or another scope, involve some contradictions that can generate coarseness or awkwardness. The actual or symbolic cultural landscape of a Sicilian or Calabrian town in the 19th century is not the same as the Buenos Aires neighborhood of La Boca at the beginning of the last century. However, we insist, these are minor details if the general theatrical ideas have sustenance and rationality. And Cure has them and uses them assuming all risks. In the beginning, before the symphonic sounds of Mascagni sounds, Gardel's voice is heard singing the emblematic and portenisimo tango of Filiberto. There is no contradiction. It is just an introduction to scents and colors of a specific place. Much more daring, on the other hand, is the double line of the violins with a bandoneon in the beautiful Cavalleria intermezzo while a couple - Lola and Turiddu - dance a tragic tango under the light of a lantern, a scene that can generate doubts about its relevance or timing. Finally, a different touch. When first opera is completed, the curtain is not closed nor is there a return to full theatre lights. In semi-darkened, as the audiences chooses to stay or leave, in the center of the stage - that is, in the Centre of Caminito - Juan Kujta, with all his fine sensitivity, reels off tangos and milongas with his bandoneon.

The linkage between two operas by José Cura is derived from the physical appearance in Pagliacci the characters of Cavalleria... At the beginning, a procession carries the coffin containing the remains of Turiddu; five months later, Santuzza walks around in an advanced pregnancy, Mamma Lucia keeps attending in their canteen, and Lola has become a woman brutalized by her husband, Alfio. In the same place, life has continued and the inhabitants, in short, are the same. Those who are not the same are singers and, in this sense, they are much more fortunate in the second cast of the first.

In Cavalleria, only Guadalupe Barrientos achieves a level of undisputed excellence. Her misfortunes, which are, in short, the cause of all the misfortunes, are fully realized in her voice and acting presence. Around her, on another level, only she offered correctness. On the other hand, the three main characters of Pagliacci had very good precision. Fabian Veloz was a great presenter, then a repulsive Tonio and, finally, a clownish clown, always very good. Mónica Ferracani highlighted both the birds aria and in her representation of Colombinas. And José Cura, multiple stellar performer of the night artist, showed all his vocal flow, his expressiveness and musicality in the construction of a perverse, hurt, macho and final Canio.

The Coro Estable, the Coro de Niños and the Orquesta Estable were precise under the excellent direction of Roberto Paternostro, who accompanied with ductility throughout, respecting the times of each singer.  The audience, in the end, seemed somewhat cautious when it came time to say thanks for so much effort and so much dedication.  Perhaps it was these very original and well carried out theatrical ideas that slowed the enthusiasm.  In any case, the most outstanding singers were showered with applause and cheers.



















From the comments Section:

Comment: Una de las maravillosas virtudes de la verdad es que siempre, temprano o tarde, sale a la luz… El mismo día en que ustedes publicaban esto, relatando lo que realmente sucedió, Mundo Clásico tergiversaba la versión, diciendo que medio teatro abucheó a Cura… Gracias por la honestidad.


Author: Muchísimas gracias por tus conceptos! Acabo de leer el comentario de Pablo Fiorentini, de cual nunca he leído nada antes, y es sorprendente. Recuerdo que cuando me iba del salón una vez que terminaron los aplausos (que fueron muchos, y no de manera cortés, sino agradecidos y entusiastas) dos amigas que ocupan otras localidades me preguntaron si alguien había abucheado, porque una de ellas no se había dado cuenta, y entonces la otra dudaba de lo que había escuchado. Así que imaginate lo que debe haber sido, uno o dos, no más. No es la única incongruencia de la nota, pero prefiero no comentar el resto por respeto a mi colega.  


Comment: One of the wonderful virtues of truth is that always, early or late, comes to light... The same day that you published this, recounting what actually happened, Mundo Clásico offered a different version, saying that half the theater booed Cura... Thank you for the honesty.



Author: I just read the comment of Paul Fiorentini, from whom I have never read anything before, and was amazed. I remember when I was leaving the auditorium once the applause (which were great, not just polite, but grateful and enthusiastic) was finished I was asked by two friends who occupy other locations if anyone had booed, because one of them had not been given account, and then the other doubted what he had heard. So I imagine that it must have been one or two, not more.  It is not the only incongruity of note, but I would rather not comment the rest out of respect for my colleague.



Bene Nota

The Truth Will Set You Free!




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 Colón


El Apasionado

19 July 2015


Cavalleria rusticana - Opera in one act with by Pietro Mascagni and Giavani Targioni-Tozzetti.  Cast:  Enrique Folger (Turiddu), Guadalupe Barrientos (Santuzza), Leonardo Estévez (Alfio), Mariana Rewerski (Lola), Anabella Carnevali (Mamma Lucia).

Pagliacci – A prologue and opera in two acts by Ruggero Leoncavallo. Cast: José Cura (Canio), Mónica Ferracani (Nedda), Fabián Veloz (Prólogo, Tonio), Sergio Spina (Beppe), Gustavo Ahualli (Silvio). 

Production of the Opera of Wallonia, Liege.

Musical direction of Roberto Paternostro; direction, staging and lighting of José Cura; costumes for Fernando Ruiz. Orchestra, Coro Estable y Coro de Niños del Teatro Colón .

The production of the operas Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci as planned by José Cura was very intelligent, full of details, with good acting treatment, joining the two operas as if they are a single one. The bandoneonist who stayed in the interval playing his tangos, the man who sits smoking off to one side, the waiter arranging the tables, the sign “five months later,” the funeral procession of Turiddu and the silent dialogue between Lola and Alfio at the start of Pagliacci and many other signs sought to unite the two Verismo works as if they were one. Moreover, and no less important, was that he placed them in the Caminito in La Boca.  This choice, although it places the action in Buenos Aires, does not overlook that it is a choice that can be understood by anyone, from anywhere.  Because La Boca, Caminito, is a place entirely dedicated to tourism and it would not surprise me if 90% of the people who visit are foreign tourists. That is to say, it was an identity of Buenos Aires but it is now a place of interest by tourists.  Anyway, by the time of the operas Caminito was a place with a strong identity with Buenos Aires.  We can say, as a corollary, the Cura did very well, the production was a success, beyond a strange boo or two from noisy people who must have something against the tenor or against the theater or against both, who knows.

These two works have been together forever but are, in my humble opinion, radically different.  In my view, Mascagni was a very delicate, intelligent, fine musician who created works that deserve to be heard, and not just Cavalleria.  But this opera is the best of him, in the beautiful melodies, the treatment of the choir, the dazzling arias, not just for the background music as but in the drama part of it.  The work of Leoncavallo, on the other hand, is full of gimmicky moments, much of the music is part of the drama, which is not a bad thing, just that it is what makes Mascagni superior. 

There are subtle differences in the arguments.  The drama of Cavalleria is complex, the story is one that comes from afar, with much weight; the characters are complex, their relationships are complicated, they do what they do even though they know it is wrong because they have a history behind them, different motivations, and because they are driven by their innermost feelings:  primarily led by love but also by jealousy, resentment, the desire for revenge.  In addition, the customs of the people of the time play a very important role. In contrast the drama of Pagliacci is direct—an unrequited love, an evil betrayal, and jealousy do the rest and all is rushed. In Cavalleria the folkloric scenes predominate the middle of the drama, which is triggered slowly and inexorably, and the duel goes happens off-stage.  In Pagliacci, the dominant scenes are brutally violent, sometimes rude, as when Tonio attempts to kiss Nedda and which is the root of the story.

The production

Enrique Folger was Turiddu and Guadalupe Barrientos performed the role of Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana. Both did very well and even though it was announced that Guadalupe was suffering from a sore throat, so fashionable this winter, it was not noticeable. Both are well qualified actors and in this, our greatest theater, where it is so difficult to stand out […] Their voices were almost perfect, showing both great breath control and volume and with enough drama without neglecting the singing.  Leonardo Estévez made an almost compadrito Alfio, with great poise and stage presence and a consistent, polished, perfectly audible voice.  He perhaps lacked somewhat in his show of rage but he was fine.  Anabella Carnevali as Mamma Lucia did not stand out much, her voice wasn’t bad but in this performance she seemed cold, while the brief role of Mariana Rewerski as Lola perfectly fulfilled the physique du rôle. The director arranged everything with extreme accuracy, the climate of Caminito in the early nineteenth century, the interaction between people, the marking of the actors, all was fine.  As for the music, Maestro Pasternostro and the Orchestra of Teatro Colon again showed that they are able to perform well.  What I didn’t like (I have the suspicion that this was the brainchild of Cura) was the bandoneon, which rang out during the famous Intermezzo, one of the most famous numbers of all time. I had hoped to enjoy it as it deserved and instead I spent two minutes looking for where that awful sound that had nothing at all to do with the original score was.  When I discovered the bandoneonist onstage (he later delighted us with some tangoes in between the operas, I must say), I was disappointed.  But, hey, surely someone liked it.

Pagliacci showed us a cruel drama with excellent performances by José Cura as Canio, Mónica Ferracani as Nedda and Fabian Veloz as Tonio.  All three are real monsters onstage, their voices were sparkling, very prominent and credible performances.  Then it was Gustavo Ahualli in the role of Silvio, which showed ductility and strength in his singing and offered a good performance, although the bar waiter outfit did not favor him up on stage.  A great work. Sergio Spina took the role of Beppe. Spina is special for these supporting roles Here the scene was also very well treated, the characters moved very unwrapped and they staged the most violent scenes in a convincing manner. I had the impression that Paternostro was more comfortable in this work.

In short, a homogenous production of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, very intelligent, with many important details, others not so much, and a few perhaps not desirable, but it worked.  A sight to see.  
















Rough Translation:

"In 2013, it was a meeting between old friends.  In 2015, it was a meeting between brothers.

Let's see what we do next time.

A hug to all,

José Cura"



On Tuesday at the Teatro Colón, José Cura was the main protagonist in the curious translation of the operatic duo of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, the famous components of Italian verismo, tragic and compelling. 

Cura innovated by moving Sicilian and Calabrian scenes to the Buenos Aires Pasaje Caminito in the neighborhood of La Boca as a tribute to the Italian immigrants who populated this area.  The evolution of the classic love triangle merged into the colorful Buenos Aires with the sultry tango, including the accompaniment of the bandoneon in the impeccable and memorable intermezzo of Cavalleria.   

The charming and powerful voices of the performers and the brilliant orchestration combined with the existing vocal power of the Rosarian José Cura. - HostNews






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


60 years later ...

Mundo Clasico

Eduardo Benarroch

31 July 2015


José Cura needs no introduction, except to let the reader know of the breath of the activities of this artist. He has long mixed his activities as a singer with that of composer, stage director, and orchestra conductor.  It is silly to think this is favoritism, for any artist who is elected by the Prague Symphony Orchestra as resident artist must be taken seriously. 

Cura imposes an indigenous Konzdept by placing the action in the neighborhood of La Boca, the first point of contact in the great Italian immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of these Italians came not from the North but from the poorest parts, namely the South.  And the first thing you see when the curtains open is a faithful reproduction of the corner of Caminito, where Lola lives in that narrow little apartment and where, when her husband is away, she continues her relationship with her great love:  Turiddu. Momma Lucia owns the café / bar, under the apartment, and it is there on the square (which actually exists) the action in Pagliacci will develop.

It is not a new idea but one that has been little explored.  The first time that this original idea could be enjoyed was the end of the 1980 decades at the always excellent English National Opera, with Ian Judge as stage director. But Cura goes beyond putting those two works on the same day.  If in Cavalleria the action was traditional and did not presage the tragedy to come, it was in Pagliacci (with the same Cura as Canio) where things got interesting. After the Prologue, a figure in a white masked appeared inviting people from La Boca to witness the show at 11PM.  Later, when Canio realizes that he is about to lose his Nedda, he sits and tears off the mask, revealing a deformed face, wounded, still bleeding.  This was the real Canio, whose face showed his inner psychological wounds.  This scene was very well thought out, intelligent, and one that gave us chills to see—that is, if the audience arrived at the same conclusion. 

Cura has always been an interesting singer. I remember him well from his early beginnings in the Royal Opera House in London, in the first version of Simon Baccanegra, directed by that master among masters, Mark Elder. But that clarion voice soon went on to sing heavier roles and he came to sing a very meritorious Otello.  His Samson was also outstanding. There are many examples of singers who enter years when they no longer sing well, Cura will be no exception, but it is interesting that he has the note, and he has them all;  what should be noted is how he reaches those notes, which is not always musical.  But it is his immense stage presence which produces the greatest effect and it was here that he won his battle all night, because he delivered and because he is an intelligent artist.  His two productions moved well, his ideas were clear and well executed. 

Enrique Folger, a tenor I did not know, sang and acted correctly in the difficult and thankless part of Turiddu. Guadalupe Barrientos, with a voice that is perhaps too lightweight for Santuzza, exuded dramatic force on the stage, winning the sympathy of much of the audience. Leonardo Estevez has a sexy voice, but light for Alfio, Marina Rewerski sexuality was personified as Lola, while Anabella Carnevalli showed a good understanding of the role of Mamma Lucia.

The Prologue raised the level of singing with another I did not know, Fabian Veloz, a baritone of great voice, beautiful traditional color which brought to mind listening to a singer of the old school with elegant phrasing and the roundness of voice.  His Tonio had the necessary dose of villain and frustrated, playful, but dangerous man. Veloz is a good actor and with his great voice it isn’t hard to foretell a very good career for him. Mónica Ferracani personified a mature, insecure, attractive Nedda. ..

The Choir sang with great sound, impressing the listener with the clarity and musicality against a conductor who should never have been chosen to direct the show.  The sounds emanating from the pit were crude, pathetic, poorly coordinated without phrasing, too fast in tempi, messy and defenseless, and a succession of notes that never said anything valid. Take as an example Nedda’s beautiful aria 'Stridono lassù,' full of lightness and sexuality, a woman who evokes birds with which to fly away from her oppressive, tyrannical husband.  The orchestra plays with the words, requires sweetness, innocence, and above all flexibility.  It’s like the same flying of the birds.  Paternostro’s reading seemed more like a heavy vulture hovering over the corpse of the score.  Perhaps the first violin would have given better results from the podium.  It has been many years since I have heard so little from a musical director.






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


Cheers and Boos for José Cura at Teatro Colón

Mundo Clasico

Paul Fiorentini

July 20, 2015


The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires presented a double opera program consisting of the operas Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, both under the stage direction of José Cura, on Friday, 17 July 2015.

The evening began with a convincing version of Cavalleria rusticana set in Caminito in the neighborhood of La Boca, during the Italian immigration in the first half of the last century, which gives Italy a small part in the drama of passion and jealous that ends with signs of pains from Lucia and Santuzza, mother and girlfriend of Turiddu, a young man who has just been murdered by Alfio, the husband of Lola, and Turiddu’s lover.  The stage director, José Cura, suggested continuity in real time for both operas and to achieve this he deliberately declined to close the curtain after the last scene and generated just a minimum of action led by a bandoneonist playing tangos, leaving the passage of time to the transformation of the sky.

The new day began with the funeral procession of the unfortunate Turiddu, after which there is a passage of five months before the arrival of the circus that sets Ruggero Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci.  Without a doubt Caminito is the right place to recreate the dramatic death of Silvio at the hands of the jealous husband of Nedda, Canio; although at the end of the opera when we all hoped that the tenor (Canio), after killing his wife’s lover, would say vehemently "La commedia è finita!"or at least the baritone (Tono) instead the terrible phrase is given to “Mamma Lucia,” who is the mother of Turiddu, murdered in Cavalleria rusticana.

Casts for both operas were comprised of Argentineans.  In Cavalleria rusticana, Guadalupe Barrientos (Santuzza), despite suffering from laryngitis, asserted the power of her voice; Enrique made an intense Turiddu; Mariana Rewerski played a Lola full of musicality; Leonardo Estévez (Alfio) and Laura Domínguez (Mamma Lucia) were correct.  In Pagliacci, José Cura put his personal timbre on display displaying their usual vocal inflections, which allowed him to build a very good Canio; Mónica Ferracani created a temperamental Nedda based on its powerful flow of voice; Fabian Veloz was justly the most acclaimed singer of the night, with his vocal power and his very good phrasing; discrete performances were offered by Sergio Spina (Beppe/Arlecchino) and Gustavo Ahualli (Silvio).

Orchestra director Roberto Paternostro had the bad idea of incorporating a bandoneon into the foreground during the Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana, which joined other striking orchestral errors—which for years have maintained a high quality—to make it a night to completely forget.  The Teatro Choir and Children’s Choir were perfect in both vocals and acting.  At the end of the performance some booing for José Cura—clearly for his role as stage director--while most applauded.  Good show.






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



“Caminito” for Export

Two Visions of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci at the Teatro Colón in versions by José Cura


Margarita Pollini

16 July 2015

If the work of José Cura as stage director of Otello two years ago was not completely successful, the latest sign of his craft as régisseur leaves a less bitter taste, although it is not completely convincing.  Pagliacci was shaped a bit by Cavalleria rusticana with enormous success, and since 1893 they have been twinned as a double bill. Cura intensifies and deepens the ties between these dramas of jealousy, passion and blood (both set in Southern Italy) by integrating situations and characters and giving continuity to both arguments.  Months after the Easter that passes in Cavalleria, in mid-August, when the action of Pagliacci is set, the pregnant Santuzza is close to delivery and Lola continues to cry over Turiddu.

Nor is it a preposterous idea of moving the action to the street Caminito in La Boca, or to consider the show as a tribute to the Italian immigration in the early twentieth century:  the brotherhood of both worlds is evident and reflected in the tango culture (even authors Falero and Carmona seem to quote Leoncavallo in the tango “Ríe, payaso” (Laugh, clown) in 1929).  Less justified, however, are some of the liberties Cura takes with respect to librettos and music of both operas, changing words, altering rhymes, cutting interventions or changing the attribution of quotes:  at the end of the evening the famous "La commedia è finita" that closes Pagliacci is not spoken by either the baritone or the tenor as tradition has it but by … Mamma Lucia.  It is the discretion of each viewer to determine whether or not the end justifies the means.

Beyond that, there are two factors that seem to conspire against the construction of a good show. One is the need to emphasize the facts: it was not enough that the stage refers explicitly to Caminito:  it is necessary to hear the same name with the beginning tango and to introduce a bandoneon and a couple of [tango] dancers during the Intermezzo from Cavalleria (almost a picture “for export”); it was not enough to suggest Santuzza is pregnant:  Cura considered it essential that she has her hand on her belly all the time and hits it in a violent paroxysm of despair. The other was a striking statism, especially in crowd scenes. The feeling that hovered was, curiously, a lack of emotion, at least the genuine emotion that avoids the low blow and the obvious. 

The cast, fully Argentinean, is sound:  the Santuzza of Guadalupe Barrientos, the Nedda of Monica Ferracani, the Tonio of Fabian Veloz, the Turiddu of Enrique Folger, the Beppe of Sergio Spina, the Lola of Mariana Rewerski, the Alfio of Leonardo Estevez and the Mamma Lucia of Anabella Carnevali are almost unbeatable; at the opposite hand Gustavo Ahualli’s Silvio had vocal difficulties and was not credible.  For his part, Cura reiterated as Canio his repertoire of well-known vocal inflections and addresses his part completely.  The Colón and Children's choirs performed excellently.  On the podium, conductor Roberto Paternostro did the job but within imprinting the two scores of infinite wealth, leading an orchestra with ups and downs.








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


Cavalleria and Pagliacci in Buenos Aires:  José Cura Revisits Two Operas

Opera World 

Roberto Sebastián Cava

24 July 2015

Everything comes. Old communications between the mainland and its overseas territories have been overtaken a few centuries ago.  Now European trends and developments arrive in Buenos Aires within a few second.  Also we travel through space and go far.

At the end of the five opera productions of our Teatro Colón comes Cavalleria rusticana and I Pagliacci [sic].  These two works which were performed during the long history of our so-called First Colón with famous singers who came by boat and more recently by air.  The elderly still remember sopranos and tenors who made history.  Their voices remain in the memory […]

Now, as you have read often in Opera World, versions of opera held most dear by the audience are [being produced] to reach many more people.  However, this effort does not easily transmit everything that the composer generously throws into his work.

The two operas I mention were undertaken by the tenor José Cura as stage director, set designer, and lighting director. With them he made a mixture of questionable taste. In the playbill notes it stated that they were in homage to immigration of the nineteen hundreds.

Cura moves the staging of the two operas to the Buenos Aires neighborhood of La Boca, well known for tourism.  The music of the tango, which is urban music and not folk music, becomes one of his partners.  He also rescues the genuineness of Argentina during a unique time when millions of men and women come from various lands to populate the area.

The staging by Cura pleased many and left discontent some who knew the operas as located in time and space by the great composers Mascagni and Leoncavallo.

The traditionalist, something to call ourselves, know well the music and singing.  It is impossible to forget Mascagni’s Easter morning when Mascagni’s tragedy started. The intermezzo is a unique piece with which the composer saved his work to turn it into a one act opus.  All great work is manners and for this writer, descended from Sicilians, each of the characters is a musical sampler.  When we hear it, it takes us to the land of our ancestors in a very special day that they passed on to us their lives and customs.

José Cura as director handled each of these characters appropriately but sometimes he deviated from the original libretto. For all, the most important thing is the music and love, jealousy, resentment and revenge that cannot be missed in the voices and the acting.

In I Pagliacci [sic], Cura seeks to unite it with Calvalleria. It is a forced attempt perhaps unnoticed by the general public. Singers should do their roles with a very deep understanding of the characters they embody. It is impossible for an artist to capture Leoncavallo with the version we are discussion. Fortunately all the singers provided the required realism while some gestures and movements carried the venture into other areas.

The casts were made up by Argentine singers in these two operas at the Colon.  It was a response of great courage before the coming of foreigners who failed to conform.  A very wise President of the Mozarteum Argentino, already deceased, said the very young arrive in Argentina to resume because the older artists live in the past. 

The cast of Cavalleria Rusticana featured the voices of Enrique Folger as Turiddu, Guadalupe Barrientos as Santuzza, Leonardo Estevez as Alfio, Lola and Marina Reweski as Anabella Carnevali as Mamma Lucia. These singers gave life to Cavallería.  Musically flawless, they returned to prove themselves and acted under the direction of Cura. The entry of protagonist on a motorcycle, the bandoneon who played the famous Intermezzo and a few modifications of the original did not dampen the brilliance of our singers.

I Pagliacci [sic] had José Cura as Canio, Monica Ferracani as Nedda, Fabian Veloz as Tonio,  Sergio Spina as Beppe and Gustavo Ahualli as Silvio.  Maestro Roberto Paternostro conducted both operas.

The singers had their brilliance. I respect the singing of José Cura whom the European public has had the opportunity to hear many times.  But here, in the 2014 [sic] season he directed, staged, and sang Otello.  The soprano Monica Ferracani, a disciple of Delia Rigal, musically lived her character and sang brilliantly.  The characters of Tonio, Beppe and Silvio, performed by Fabian Veloz, Sergio Spina and Gustavo Ahualli, were all musically splendid performers.

Cura made ​​some changes, including the end of I Pagliacci [sic].  It was not Canio who repeated the words “La commedia è finite” but Mamma Lucia.  A pregnant Santuzza contrasted with the child who goes to school in a representation in Salzburg.






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 and with philosophical underpinnings; the computer does not.


Interview with José Cura:  Classical Art Belongs to All of Us

Music Clasica BA

MCBA asked some questions of the renowned director, composer, and singer during his stay in Buenos Aires for the double opera program consisting of the classics Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci at the Teatro Colon, where he is responsible for multiple roles:  stage director, lighting director, and interpreter of Canio, the main character in Pagliacci. The Rosarian has spent 25 years living in Europe and says that Art (capitalized) is the best antidote against mediocrity and that it should be used in educating truth and not as a slogan.

What are your impressions and feelings after the performances of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci at the Colon in July 2015? 

I will repeat what I was told by an old machinist at the theater and that is the best answer:  “I’ve worked here for 30 years and have never seen the theater literally fall in love with a production as in this case.”  That love is what, I think, “hit” the public.  Even a few of the cynics, unable to deny the evidence, were forced to invent reasons behind which to hide the blush that produces the thrill you cannot control. 

Recently, you said that the crisis that exists in Europe and in the world is moral rather than economic.  Could you elaborate a little more on this idea?  What do you think the role of art and music is particular in combating or counteracting the crisis?

I think the world is going through a very delicate moments socially and it is urgent that we bring order before there is no turning back.  In this, art has a great role.  But art understood as the heritage of all.  Mind you, when I say “all” I do not reference opera or the elitism that surrounds classical art, nor the populist banner that opposes it as an allergic reaction. Classical art is for everyone, not because it is politically correct to say so but because it is the quintessence of what human wonder can achieve when the Divine Breath gets you in the gut.  Recreating its beauty, understanding, is the best antidote to mediocrity and therefore we must educate to grow, really, not as a slogan. The problem is that an educated people, of whatever level that is, becomes dangerous because they think… will it go very much to "some" people come into contact with Art with a capital A? Maybe you have to start there to bring order to our deflated globe...

At what point did you feel the need to deal with stage direction and in this particular case, also with lighting?

I started in 2007.  The theater in Rijek, Croatia, asked me to design a show based on Pagliacci. Thus was born “La comedia è finita". The following year was hired by the Cologne theatre to design and direct Un ballo in maschera. That show was attended by many Germany artistic directors and the ball started rolling.  In 2010 I made a well-known production of Samson, which exists on DVD, and since then I have not stopped. The lighting is an aspect of the show that is inextricably linked to the scenery, so I have always participated in the lighting of my shows.  In this, my long experience as a photographer has been crucial.  But only two years ago, when I felt that the experience justified it, I agreed that my work as an illuminator appear in the credits of the program.  Going further back in time.

What are your earliest musical memories and when did you know you would devote your life to music?

When I was 8 years old my father sent me to study piano. A few weeks later, my teacher sent me home with a note: "Josecito is not interested in the music, yet." At 12 I discovered the guitar and almost immediately I began to study composition. My teacher, the great Carlos Castro, said to me: "We have to frame your instinct, which is huge, without destroying it". At 17, after high school, I told my parents I wanted to be a musician and entered the University to study composition and conducting. One of the subjects was opera singing... One thing after the other and the rest is already part of history.

Opera singer, conductor, impresario, director and composer: which of these activities do you enjoy most and in which do you believe have the most risk?

We should first define “risk.”  If we are talking about the risks of what people will say, that is only escaped by doing nothing. And not even then because at the end of the road you find the Creator who will reproach you for not having made the most of the gifts he gave you.  If I have to endure sticks, better to endure those of your peers because God’s hurt more!  With regard to “enjoy,” I love everything I do, but to understand my philosophy on this subject, I will tell a story.  A bitter (here a figure replaces the word) wrote almost 20 years ago:  “Cura must get in his head that classical music was not composed to make him happy on stage…”  I believe that this phrase, in itself, explains many things.  I will leave a question:  How can an artist convey joy if he does not feel privileged to be able to enjoy, in primis, that which he has chosen for his medium?

How about criticism.  Do you pay attention?  Does it add or subtract?

When I was young I had handled it very badly.  Then, one day I understood we, all human beings, see the world through the lens of our own experiences and therefore we judge our neighbors on the basis of our baggage, understood not only as the sum of our knowledge but also as the “bag (-gage)” more or less heavy, more or less full of clean clothes or dirty pants with which we travel through life.  Then I stopped getting angry.  The fact is that to be a professional critic is only for the brave:  if to the responsibility of having to “judge,” for which even God’s hand shakes, we add the obligation to kowtow to the political affiliation of the medium where the critic writes, and to this we also add the burden of having to defend (even if irrelevant) what he is ordered to support, imagine how hard must be to work as a critic. So much so, that even the role of the “criticized one” seems to be less tremendous…






Last Updated:  Sunday, November 22, 2015  © Copyright: Kira