José Cura is indeed a phenomenon: Besides being one of the world’s greatest tenors he primarily singlehandedly controls all of the various functions that build a performance. A polymath, a Leonardo da Vinci of our time.
Ovations to Cura’s direction. That’s in recognition to the first work of José Cura—one of the greatest opera singers, conductors and composers of nowadays— as stage director.
Ovations for La commedia e finita. The spectacular is the brainchild of José Cura, with Cura himself in the triple role of director (his debut), set designer and singer, even playwright. [The results] testify to the many-sided, multi-talented personality of the Argentine artist whose generous, exuberant and imaginative nature is reflected in the show he created and developed that is both complex and replete with facets and which has a direct and intense impact on the audience.
This was a great success for the first directorial effort by the internationally renowned tenor. Cura, in his début as a stage director, created a new way of thinking about Pagliacci. During two weeks of unflagging work as director, set designer, writer, singer, and also as actor performing his self-written monologue, Cura gave his extraordinary passion, energy and enthusiasm to this show.
Cura masters the director’s craft.
As If Made For Film…
Two extremely worthwhile hours of viewing…
It has been one of the rare opera evenings that are etched on one’s memory and you won’t forget for your whole life.
José Cura, an artist who creates and crafts an integrated, total work of art.
The exceptional project lent wings to the ensemble and created an artistic result that would do credit to any international operatic stage.
Cura’s concept for the stage seems perfect for a conversion into film; the suggestive scenery makes a strong impression also on the TV screen. And the interminable cycle of the oppression of one people by another in the name of God, which in turn results in equally brutal methods of the freedom fighters, comes across as even more poignant due to the detailed views and close-ups. Lucidly staged, the hope for a peaceful future, which the director sees in the attitudes and actions of the children, comes to light beautifully. That one of the visually most impressive productions of the Badische Staatstheater has been captured on DVD, is certainly to be welcomed; after all, it provides evidence beyond the House of its high level of performance.
It is not exactly often that this work by French composer Camille Saint-Saens can be found on the opera stages of German-speaking countries. Two years ago, José Cura staged the composer’s opera “Samson and Dalila” for the Badische Staatstheater Karlsruhe. It is a production which received a great deal of attention and which Cuibar, his marketing company, is now presenting as a DVD by way of the Arthaus Music Label. Cura himself also takes the responsibility for the film. It is certainly out of the ordinary. The camera is always close to the action on stage. And it shows neither Jochem Hochstembach, the conductor, nor the orchestra — not even the audience. And the applause was not recorded either. Instead, a music film was created —no less breathtaking than the mis-en-scène itself.
… A veritable jewel of balance and subtlety.
Cura revealed the seriousness of purpose behind Puccini’s work, not as a Viennese-style operetta —as it was initially commissioned— but as a work dissecting the female psyche that could stand beside the works of Richard, rather than Johann, Strauss. The complex psychological tussle was directed with skill by Cura, who chose to set the action in designs and costumes of a post-World War II period. Puccini’s much-revised ending was cleverly staged.
… An effective intelligence in staging the scene, testifying to a skillful know-how in distilling dramatic tension.
The tremendous ovation CURA received during curtain call was undoubtedly for this talent.
The enthusiasm for Cura’s production literally ripped the audience from their seats.
José Cura has managed to merge the evening’s two works successfully in beautiful temporal and spatial continuity. The realism is immediate, powerful and poignant, tastily colorful but without an excess of local color. It works from start to finish.
This touching, picturesque and human show rests on traditional but skillful and clever acting that is sensitive and always situation-appropriate. A production of great audience appeal and worthy the reputation of the Opera Royal de Wallonie.
These days, it is no longer quite so easy to achieve the same effect as fifty or even a hundred years ago with these perhaps most typical examples among the Verismo operas that have survived in the repertoire. But José Cura has definitely done it with his adaptation. It is not only the logical, convincing staging concept of interlocking the two operas plus naturally also the nice décor and costumes that contribute, but also the perfect craftsmanship. From the seemingly casual movement of the choruses to the detailed directing of individuals and the many staging ideas, Cura proves that with clarity, inspiration and delight in detail it is definitely still possible to stage a work in a traditional manner and be of interest to the audience.
Everything is direct, unmitigated expression. The wild, the excessive, the being-in-turmoil remains Cura’s constant companion, even in restraint; thus a scathing glance, a tender gesture, an abrupt turning away suffices for the almost 50-year-old to conjure up with small gestures the great drama about love, jealousy, infidelity and murder. The Liege audience, applauding enthusiastically, will surely remember the evening still for a long time.
One of the great nights of the Colón.
… A passionate and gripping portrayal… The scenery was cleverly constructed on the revolving stage with three unequal elements —the largest the front of the castle, leading to an interior room and in turn to Desdemona’s bedroom, enabling easy flow from one to another as well as in rotation showing snapshots of behind the scenes happenings.
We must applaud the staging of José Cura, based on three stage sets, mounted on the revolving stage, representing an exterior courtyard, the main hall of the palace, and the bedroom of the leading couple, which were rotated on the wooden platform with such precision that every scene occurs in the right place, creating an almost cinematographic framework. An example of this was seen at the end of the third act when Otello—totally driven mad—is lying on the floor of the courtyard but rises up at the beginning of the fourth act and steps towards the main room while the stage rotates, there to sit in a chair to meditate, then with a new turn of the stage to go to the conjugal bedroom where he murders his wife.
Cura follows the contents of Verdi’s opera. And he explores them with intelligence, according to two basic ideas: one is the scenic concretisation of Verdi’s dramaturgy; the other is Jago’s radicalisation. The fluidity of the action pays tribute to Verdi’s extraordinary musical and dramatic achievement, and Cura achieves it through the admirable use of a rotating stage, not only in order to create three different spaces - the square and two interior spaces in the palace: the main room and the bedroom - but also in order to facilitate a constant movement, and efficient temporal illusions.
A roaring success.
The result is a wholly engaging performance, basically conventional but fresh with the Nordic setting and the revamped characters. There are many comical moments in the original and Cura never underplays them. This Bohème is grossly entertaining and there were laughter and giggles a-plenty during the premiere evening but the love-scenes and the tragedy, sketched in act III and culminating with Mimi’s death were indeed heartrending and many a tear was shed during the finale.
In José Cura´s charming direction trick they all go through the well-known sorrowful stage fate. And not only the innovative central theme where caused under the influence of the Argentinean – also the stage set that was contemplative put into a nutshell, the historically accurate costumes, the mask as well as the light.
The “Scandinavian” Bohème is a beautiful version, good looking, touching, and professional.
The show was hailed with standing ovations
A terrifically pleasant experience!
… An honest artistic success.
It was a very fine opera experience and perhaps what explains the successful premiere is that one man, José Cura, was primary responsible for the directing, costumes, staging and lighting. His interpretation makes it easier to understand the story of the Bohemians, not least through a clear directorial effort. There was a standing ovation and it was only right and proper and well deserved!
One of the best sets that I have experienced over the years. Cura’s interpretation makes it easier to understand the story of the bohemians, through a clear directing work. There was a very much deserved standing ovation!
Nordic bohemians convinces with vocal splendor. It is imaginative, with good humor and much charm.
… An elegant transfer from the quarters in Paris to the Old Town…
Cura manages to find the true breadth of this opera.
Renaissance man José Cura was at once star tenor, director and designer of the show, Cura’s best ideas came in his treatment of Ping, Pang and Pong—a trio of characters who often irritate rather than charm. He treated them as three principal characters of the commedia dell’arte, Pantalone, Arlecchino and Dr Balanzone, before dressing up in their official Chinese costumes for the riddles. This brought a darker brooding quality to the trio…
José Cura once again not only proves his versatile talents by not only shining as a singer in Puccini´s Turandot, but also as a director with a convincing concept that refrains of Alfanos finishing of the opera.
A production blessed by a stageful of superlative singers on which José Cura - after a career spanning 30 years - appears like a sacred and mythological element, matching the legend that precedes him.
More than merely slavish illustration, José Cura succeeds in recovering the “Turandot tone” so unique to Puccini’s career and so difficult to define: that of an epic choral work in which China unfolds in all its magical sensuality but also its cruelty. At the same time, the kitsch—a pitfall so common when it comes to Asia—is avoided by thorough work on lighting and costumes. The ingenious way in which the children’s choir is integrated into the action deserves to be highlighted.
Faithful servant of Puccini, José Cura was here in more than one role. Indeed, although the Argentinean is known for his operas, perhaps some are unaware that he composes, conducts, and for the last ten years has been staging operas. He does so with seriousness and intelligence.
José Cura with assistant and co-stage designer Silvia Collazuol