Bravo Cura

Celebrating José Cura--Singer, Conductor, Director




Operas:  Pagliacci

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THANKS TO EVA and HERBERT for explaining the second, private showing:


The performance on 09-20 is reserved for the Viennese Travel-Agency Elite Tours, as remembrance  "25 years cooperation SND Bratislava and Elite Tours" - therefore you can buy tickets for this day only via (travel either by train or bus or ship Vienna-Bratislava and retour, including sight-seeing, backstage-tour, dinner and performance). In one case there is also included a meeting with the artists  - but I suppose, this version is sold out.











































from Aleksandrs Dolchev













From  Eva and Herbert









Hi, Kira!

We had been in Bratislava "Cav/Pag" - nearly perfect! Completely perfect it would have been with José Cura as Turridu as well - but we had the great pleasure to see him in this role between 2006 and 2011 in Verona, Köln, Zürich, Wien, Barcelona and Kopenhagen.  

But after the interlude it was one of the most thrilling "Pagliacci" as we hardly ever had seen, hard to beat! Needless to say, there were standing ovations by the audience: for the conductor Rastislav Stur; Katarina Juhasova-Sturova was Nedda, the Prolog/Tonio Daniel Capkovic and above all: José Cura. Next to him Peppe: Maxim Kutsenko and Silvio Ales Jenis.

We sent the best greetings from Vienna to you!

Eva and Herbert



José Cura’s Canio: a Truly Gorgeous and Moving Experience in Pagliacci


Slovak National Theatre, Bratislava

18. and 20. September 2015.

 An eyewitness review by Zsuzsanna

We had a great opportunity to visit Bratislava and the town’s new opera house again for a special treat; José Cura sang the title role of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci two nights on 18th and 20th September in SND (Slovak National Theatre). The first night represented the season opening performance of the 2015/2016 season of SND. The second show was a private event organized by the Vienna-based Elite Tours and it brought their Viennese core audience to Bratislava for this performance celebrating the 25th anniversary of their cooperation with SND.

Of course the program offered the usual twin of Cav/Pag. The oblique, large Piazza Leoncavallo was situated perhaps on the top of a hill and ruled the centre of the stage. It was surrounded by the church, Mamma Lucia’s house (on via Mascagni), a tavern and a fenced off mysterious, rich villa. The cast entered to the stage through a vaulted gateway from above or from below using narrow passageways which connected the stage to the auditorium on both sides. The main benefit of this arrangement was that the audience had a great view to the stage from every corner of the auditorium.

Some interesting new ideas of the director worked well to maintain the tension and dynamic of the drama during the play in Cavalleria Rusticana. A man dressed in black suit appeared on the stage and guarded the audience before the show had begun. After Turiddu’s (Miroslav Dvorsky) serenade, we heard a huge shooting and him running, a scared figure chased by three men who obviously belonged to the Mafia. They were hired of course by Alfio (Sergej Tolstov). Alfio entered the church right after the moment he killed Turiddu. We greatly enjoyed Mascagni’s beautiful music and happily took pleasure in the rich performance of the orchestra and choir. The strong, clear voice of a young Santuzza (Jolana Fogasova) attracted our attention the most; she was able to shape her likeable acting and vocal projection with sincere feelings, passion and pride. Cavalleria earned strong applause from the audience.

The two operas had a connection not only through the usage of the same set but emphasising the power and law of the Mafia and its confirming relationship with the Church in both play. After the arrival and first action of Pagliacci’s troupe, Alfio, his wife and their dark company marched to the stage and were welcomed by the villagers as well. Then they all saluted the priest and followed him to the church.

The main attraction of the night meant the performance of Pagliacci for us with the charismatic, leading power of José Cura’s Canio. This play, the company’s achievement and Cura’s performance undoubtedly were in another class and dimension in every aspect. The singers were equipped with classic, funny costumes and makeup. José Cura put his heart to the stage and his aging, alcoholic, violent and murderous Canio, his electrifying and really moving, complex performance and singing actions recalled and delineated the fallible man hidden behind the mask in full of pain and despair.

A handsome and elegant Tonio (Daniel Capkovic) appeared behind the rows of seats and walked toward the stage while he was singing the Prologue (Si può?... Si può?.”)..using his strong and vivid baritone  voice with skilful acting imagination and fervour. He deserved the enthusiastic applause of the audience. Canio’s arrival and the gathering of the villagers already showed a colourful, joyous cavalcade of great team work and music. In the company of Nedda and Beppe, José Cura’s Canio suddenly cropped up behind us, first on the left and then on the right side of the auditorium greeting us and the choir of the villagers who also cheered them from the stage. We got immediately in the right mood but our grateful applause conveyed more, it was addressed not only to Canio, but to José Cura, the artist to pay tribute for his appearance in the SND of Bratislava again. Soon they arrived at the stage and Canio hit the huge drum with firm hands so everybody could be informed about their arrival. His first great solo (“Mi accordan di parlar?.. Un grande spettacolo….”) swelled from the charisma, energy and power of his personality and resounding voice too. A small billboard made from cheap paper was brought to the stage to advertise the evening performance and Canio drew the starting time of the show to the paper when the lines “a ventitré ore were repeated more times. During this first encounter he also made friends with some fortunate kids and fellows. We also noticed the tension among the members of the troupe (Tonio-Canio, Canio-Nedda, Nedda-Tonio) due to the rude behaviour of the men and the presence of fear of violence which were already palpable on the stage. José Cura deliberately played an aging Canio here, whose earlier power as a chief, artist or a man started to decline and he showed greater attention and affinity to alcoholic drinks and physical violence in conflict management. Canio continued his comic-serious-threatening, sometimes bloodcurdling vocal lines about the different ending of the story in his second solo (”Un tal gioco, credetemi….”) when he demonstrated the beauty and talkative acting of his tenor. When he wanted to seal his dominance and power with Nedda’s kiss, he received a not too kind, also violent reaction from his women. Then he headed to the tavern for more comfort. From the terrace of the tavern his last, endlessly held line “ a ventitré ore!” boasted of his unique, balmy timbre and inexhaustible vocal resources.

In the following sections we were further entertained by Nedda’s (Katarina Juhasova Sturova) dynamic, flirty, bitterly sweet, well-sung solo, her courageous duet with the insulted, wicked Tonio – whose soul was tortured by his physical disability - and the long encounter and duet of Nedda and Silvio (Ales Jenis). The latter earned a distinctive applause from the audience the moment before Canio discovered their meeting and unmistakable body language from the distance. Canio was already drunk so it took some time for his staggering body and senses to realize what he have seen. Nedda successfully slowed him down when she tossed the billboard to the ground and Canio almost fell in it. It was a lovely scene when he got sobered for a moment and furiously threw his jacket toward Nedda before he continued the hopeless chasing. He returned with a threatening knife in his hand. His ice-cold voice and hissing fury claimed about the name of her lover (“Il nome, il nome!”) which didn’t promise any good for the Nedda. In the last moment Tonio, who worried about Nedda’s safety, suddenly wrested the knife out of Canio’s hand. Again, Canio was surprised so much by this action. His drunken attitude could not understand what happening around him, but seeing Tonio again around Nedda, he gave such a huge slap in her face that Nedda’s body had flown to the other side of the stage. Then Canio was dragged away from Nedda with the joint help of Tonio and Beppe. If it was not enough torture for Canio, Tonio started his wicked game and gave the knife back to Canio again, and he pocketed it in a still unconscious mood.

Canio’s thoughts were running elsewhere, he slowly seat down to the chair of the tavern and started his heart-broken aria “Recitar!.. Vesti la giubba ..”. Sitting on the ruins of his life, José Cura performed the famous aria with enormous energy drawing all his pain and self-pity in his heated vocalism. His dramatic, soaring, colorful voice flew in the air and his vocal lines carried storytelling power, beauty and sensitivity. At the final notes of the orchestra he slowly took out his knife from his pocket and after some hesitation he desperately stabbed his knife into the standing poster of Pagliacci indicating that he didn’t want to be identified with the character of the show any longer. The audience granted him with strong and warm applause which fitted well to the particular atmosphere and mood of the aria. Canio started to prepare himself for the evening show; his sad, reluctant motions with his funny costume were talkative signs of his changed state of mind. Then he walked off the stage and sat down to the narrow passageway on the audience’s side. While we were delighted by the luxurious sound of the orchestra during the Intermezzo, many of us watched him doing his makeup on his face for the evening performance. Thousands of kinds of feelings passed through Canio’s face during this process from a phlegmatic, nonchalance attitude to a numb, fainting one, then he finally fell asleep nursing a big bottle of wine in his lap. This special Intermezzo earned our warm applause again. Canio became Pagliacci and he joined to the play from this position later.

The “play within the play” was well choreographed and the singers were equipped with classic, funny costumes and makeup. They did their best, but Beppe’s aria won our heart with the extreme beauty of his timbre and projected line during his serenade for Nedda. Then the joyful mood of the evening show changed when Canio/Pagliacci arrived at the stage in a drunken mood again and the real drama began. There was an icy, hidden, dangerous determination behind the staring drunkenness in Canio’s behaviour in the beginning, but then he erupted like a volcano hearing Nedda’s innocent, chirping words.

In his last, beautifully performed aria (“No! Pagliaccio non son..”) he told everything about Canio’s real life and his daring, emotionally heated, rich and steely vocal and unstoppable singing-acting actions crowned the evening. His Canio literally denied Pagliacci’s character, he protested against the earned applause and wiped his makeup off his face with maniac gestures but he could react only with the help of alcohol through an induced violence. In the second part of the aria we could see and sense the man behind the mask, his true feelings, his pain, suffering, impotence and lodging for love. But his moving confession didn’t last for a long time. His tipsy Pagliacci genuinely reacted when he saw Beppe’s figure in the play as the “virtual” lover of Nedda. He totally lost his self-control and he only bothered about the revenge (“Il nome, il nome!”) and started to rage on the stage even more violently. We were tied to his actions while followed the quick development of a bloody tragedy. Many of the stage cast and villagers were also alarmed except Silvio. Seeing Nedda’s provocative resistance, Canio killed her with brutal cruelty. He sliced her throat twice from behind with quick movements. She was already dead when Silvio came back to the reality and ran to the stage. As a final twist, Tonio trip him up, so Silvio’s body had fallen in front of Canio. He had no chance; with a bestial brutality Canio kicked his rival to the death. Then he shouted a triumphant “La commedia è finita!” and nailed Silvio’s body to the ground with his knife. Everybody on the stage turned away from him in terror. A moment later Canio realized what he did, he desperately threw himself to Nedda’s lying body and touchingly possessed her with a kiss in her death.

The audience celebrated enthusiastically the performance and whole cast of Pagliacci in both nights with strong applause and many bravos, but it was especially memorable in the first, opening night. When José Cura came out for the curtain calls as the hero of the evening, at once the whole audience produced that rare, very spontaneous and uniform standing ovation and frenetic applause from the ground floor to the balcony unstoppable to express our sincere feelings for his superb achievement. It lasted about 9 minutes. We also did our best in the second night when 7 minutes long thunderous applause granted the stage. The singers were very happy and touched by our warm acknowledgement. We were very lucky when José Cura took the time to shortly visit the backstage area for a quick meeting with us before he fulfilled his other duties with his colleagues and the VIP guests of the theatre.































Last Updated:  Friday, October 09, 2015  © Copyright: Kira