José Cura interview in: Das Opernglas, October 1997

The issue publishes an interview with José Cura where he makes some rather strange statements.

Asked whether he was not afraid to sing Otello and Radames too early, he said ... The real question is: are the parts of Otello and Radames real dramatic roles? I do not think so. They are only very often described as dramatic. The part of Otello is pure belcanto, a form of dramatic belcanto. Because of Del Monaco a completely new tradition was created. After him, it seemed impossible not to yell the part. But Plácido Domingo has demonstrated that it is not correct. He has sung the role of Otello with the voice of a lirico-spinto tenor. He has given dramatic accents thanks to the intelligence of his interpretation. The same is true for Samson.

First Domingo does not have the voice for Otello. He is not a spinto, has not enough volume for the role. In other times, he would not have been a tenor of the first rank. As for Samson, this is really an easy role.
Asked about Radames, Cura said: It is also a lyrical part. Celeste Aida is one of the most lyrical arias of my repertoire.
Radames requires more than Celeste Aida from the tenor.
Asked whether it's possible to sing the high B at the end of the aria pianissimo as written, Cura said: No, it is completely impossible. It is not a question of technique, but depends on the pitch of the orchestra, which is today a half note higher than at the time of the creation of the work. Verdi was not a voice killer. He knew exactly what he could ask or not from a singer.
Apparently Cura has not heard of Bergonzi's rendition of the aria. Let alone of Simándy's recording that has no equal. As for the higher pitch of orchestras today as compared to the ones of the 19th century, I suggest that Cura reads the article of Stefan Zucker Pitch putsch, published in the 1989 issue of Opera fanatic. Maybe Cura could learn something from it.

On the positive side, the new CD of Cura published by Erato can be recommended. It contains all Puccini arias. Cura shows a good voice, and dramatic sense. I hope Cura sounds the same live. Well, he didn't. He didn't in fact sound at all, since he could barely be heard in a theater – talk about lack of volume! As compared to Cura, Domingo sounded like a union of Max Lorenz, Lauritz Melchior and Mario Del Monaco! In opera's more glorious eras, Cura's size of voice would have condemned him to a career as a comprimario in a secondary theater. A curiosity, the second-rate conductor is Domingo.

Go Home