Sunday, April 25, 2010

José Cura in Athens: Le lacrime che noi versiam son false?

Athens Megaron, 17 April 2010

José Cura's Recital was the blockbuster-surprise of 2010. Tickets had sold-out a week in advance and the demand was still very high till the very last minute.

This wasn't Cura's first time in Athens: His Radamés in May 2001 had fascinated the Greek audience and his 2002 recital was a blust too. On top of that, Cura had been invited to sing in July 2004 on the frontier island of Inousses as part of the festivities for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

The argentinian tenor was back to Athens for a recital that took place at the Athens Megaron on April 17, a recital that spread more light to Cura-the artist than Cura-the singer.

One doesn't have to be following Cura's career to understand what is obvious: Cura constantly resorts to manierisms that render his singing uneven. His accuti can make you nervous only by watching the tenor execute them - the way he rides the passaggio and passes the voice to the head, pushing, pushing and pushing, creating so much pressure in his skull that a high note above A, maintained for a bit more than a few nanoseconds could lead to an explosion.

Certainly he knows his flaws and can by-pass them artfully or use them in order to serve the drama. But after a 90-minutes recital, and after having sung this way, Cura comes on stage and sings a Nessun Dorma that leaves you breathless -round, sustained high notes included- and thinking "But if he CAN do it like this, why doesn't he?".

Just like during the 2003 recital at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Cura played hide-and-seek with the audience, making his entrance from between the audience while singing Tonio's "Si puó? from I Pagliacci - á la Del Monaco. His "Vesti la giubba" that followed gave me the goosebumps, same for Otello's "Dio, mi potevi scagliar" and "Niun mi tema".

During Part II, Puccini was the composer of honour and his music seemed to be fitting Cura like a glove: Mario, Dick Johnson, Pinkerton, sung with passion
(especially Dick) and in the most dramatic fashion though without ever overcoming his upper register problems.

Cura's companion in this journey was the young, Greek mezzo-soprano Katerina Roussou. Roussou, still a student of vocal arts in Ljubljana, displays an interesting instrument, a natural voice that better served Carmen's Seguidille than the unfortunate Angelina that I found to be too risky a choice for the warm-up. Cherubino's "Non so piú..." during the encores, verified that the vocal material exists but it's still immature and there's a long way to go.

What stroke me the most was Cura-the entertainer: he monkeyed around the orchestra, sang from all possible spots in the Hall, flirted with the -usually capricious and grumpy- (female) concertmaster, he joked with the audience, the organisers, even the President of the Hellenic Republic that was present (may we remind that the Greek President is an honorary citizen of Milan and a frequent visitor of the palco reale of La Scala), and displayed excellent communication skills.

The audience liked him but didn't surrender. During the first part, the applause was lukewarm, nobody seemed to be excited during intermission, and only during the second part did the audience show some excitement (not half the excitement the audience showed during the Garanca or the Flórez concerts just to mention some recent ones).

Kudos to the National Symphony Orchestra of ERT that played unexpectedly well -for a change- especially Puccini's La Tregenda from Le Villi, and seemed to enjoy the collaboration with maestro Mario de Rose.

Backstage, a long queue waited for an autograph and a photo with José Cura who didn´t let down his fans.


Hariclea said...

Nice, I saw him live two years back in Wien in Pagliacci and it was marvelous! The voices has it's flaws but he does make for a riveting performance when he completely gets into it. And his Dick at ROH was good :-) It's not smooth when he sings, but it is still interesting :-)

Alex said...

Katerina is a great musician with a beautiful colour in her voice.I think she will very soon be a wonderful and very acomplished artist
(actualy, I think she already is..)

Θ. Ζερβόπουλος said...

Για άλλη μια φορά το ελληνικό κοινό ντροπιάστηκε στα μάτια ενός μεγάλου καλλιτέχνη (και απ' ότι φάνηκε και ανθρώπου)
Πρέπει κάποιοι να καταλάβουν ότι αυτές οι εκδηλώσεις γίνονται για να απολαύσει ο κόσμος κάτι που δεν έχει συχνά την ευκαιρία και όχι για να δουν ποιός πήγε ή δεν πήγε. Δεν είναι κοσμικες εκδηλώσεις
Απαράδεκτο να μπαίνει τόσος κόσμος τόση ώρα μετά την έναρξη της παράστασης (κάτι που δεν άφησε ασχολίαστο ο Cura)
Απάράδεκτο το συνεχές ψιθύρισμα.
Απαράδεκτο το χειροκρότημα πριν η ορχήστρα ολοκληρώσει το παίξιμό της. Κάποτε πρέπει να γίνουμε σωστοί ακροατές.
Τέλος πάντων, αν δεν τους αρέσει μην έρχονται με το ζόρι!