Josť Cura on Peter Grimes

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Josť Cura on Peter Grimes

Post  Dominic McHugh on Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:02 pm

I was interested to read the interview with Josť Cura:
http://www.musicalcriticism.com/interviews/cura-0908.shtml

Once again, he raises the idea of learning the role of Peter Grimes in England because it's part of our heritage, and clearly he's upset that he's been refused the part on the grounds of English not being his first language. Does anyone have any thoughts about this? Dramatically, one would think that the part was right up his street, even if he's a little too Latin-looking for Grimes. On principle, I don't have a problem with the language, but on the other hand I remember being vastly disappointed with Sara Mingardo's performance in Handel's Messiah with Colin Davis a couple of years ago, when she was singing in English alongside three English soloists. She really stood out. So...I don't know? It would be interesting to get readers' reactions.

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Re: Josť Cura on Peter Grimes

Post  hugo on Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:35 pm

It seems to me really strange that there's this apparent double standard when it comes to English opera. It's perfectly normal for opera audiences to be subjected to all manner of dreadful pronunciation in French opera, in particular (my favourite recording in this regard is probably Franco Corelli's Faust - stunning singing but with absolutely no concession to the language - but then again, he often managed to make his Italian sound strange too). Some might argue even that Domingo, at least earlier in his career, was being indulged when allowed to sing roles in German, which often (from the recordings, at least) sound very strange, accent-wise.

Listening to Cura as Peter Grimes might require a bit of adjusting but the ear would soon have no issue with any accent there might be and I suspect that the originality of his interpretation would easily outweigh any problems. Apart from anything else, it could only be a good thing for Britten...?

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Re: Josť Cura on Peter Grimes

Post  Dominic McHugh on Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:44 pm

Covent Garden does have a point though, surely? It's not something most people would pay to hear Jose Cura to see unless he'd had a major success with it elsewhere.

Also, even when it was cheaply priced and featured a stunning cast in 2004 - Ben Heppner, Janice Watson, Alan Opie - the last staging of it at the House didn't sell out.

Also, with ENO bringing a new staging next April and Opera North having brought out a critically-acclaimed new production in recent years, the piece probably isn't even near the top of their list of pieces to stage, regardless of who's in it. And since ENO is kind of in the middle of a Britten cycle at the moment, the ROH is probably looking to go in other directions?

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Re: Josť Cura on Peter Grimes

Post  hugo on Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:06 pm

Yeah, I guess the Royal Opera's missed the boat now anyway. And from what Cura said, he's stopped bothering to ask them anyway. I can imagine, though, a Cura Grimes would be terribly divisive, but I guarantee several people who would not have come to see Heppner in the role would probably decide to see Cura in it.

I'd be interested to see him in Tchaikovsky though...

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WOuld be interesting to see Cura sign in English

Post  owlclarke on Sun Sep 28, 2008 12:42 am

But I cannot say I would get excited about hearing him sing Britten! I would however be very interested to hear Jonas Kaufmann sing a role like Male Chorus in Rape of Lucretia.

You mentioned ENO goign through a Britten Cycle - I loved their Death in Venice and i know they're doing Peter Grimes - what oterh Britten might they be doign the future? Do we/you have any info?

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Re: Josť Cura on Peter Grimes

Post  Dominic McHugh on Sun Sep 28, 2008 1:22 am

I think he's someone who's exciting when he's excited. So although I agree, Grimes isn't what I'd choose to hear him sing, when an artist like that wants something that badly, the results might be exciting.

Kaufmann's an interesting idea, too - I don't recall him saying anything about it in our interview?

As for the ongoing Britten cycle, Ian Bostridge told me he's doing the Death in Venice again, but maybe Billy Budd counts as part of the cycle? Turn of the Screw is also coming back, I think. With Div, PG, ToS and BB, that would be four operas.

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Jose Cura as Grimes

Post  Mike Reynolds on Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:54 pm

Having just seen Cura in Fanciulla, I would certainly go to see him as Peter Grimes. He has energy, stamina and a dark colour to the voice that would be very persuasive. And casting him against a Borough made up largely of English/English speaking singers would only emphasise his 'otherness' - the man who doesn't quite belong in the Borough anyway. I think it would be fascinating.
I don't really buy the idea that Grimes is that 'English' an opera anyway. Think of its conception and the world situation at the time. I was at an ENO performance under Paul Daniel in Snape Maltings a few years ago and as the last chord of Act 1 crashed out and resonated in that reverberant acoustic I sat stunned, asking myself: where did this music come from? I think the abstract ideas it embodies leave the whole notion of 'English opera' far behind.
I'm lucky enough to have heard Britten, Grimes included, in France, Germany, Hungary and other points east. What always amazes me is how naturally performers embrace the Britten idiom and how they make it feel as if it is 'their' music. For me, that's the genius of Britten. Conversely, we have that whole streak running thrrough English society that loathed BB and his music - even today. "Can't be doing with Britten" is still a refrain in Suffolk, where I live.
I'd like to see a concert performance of Grimes with Cura as PG supported by a top flight cast and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel. That would be quite an evening!

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Re: Josť Cura on Peter Grimes

Post  Dominic McHugh on Fri Oct 17, 2008 12:23 pm

I think Cura could be an interesting Grimes, but I must say I didn't enjoy the recent DVD of the opera from Zurich because, contrary to your experiences, I find the non-Anglophone members of the cast, the chorus and the orchestra don't understand the language (both textual/musical). Musically, obviously Britten borrows from Verdi and the classical period, but I really do find this piece very English.

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Re: Josť Cura on Peter Grimes

Post  Jngarratt on Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:26 pm

I think I'd agree that this is a really English piece and loses some of the tension if the singers don't understand the semantics of the language. But surely you could say that about something like Don Giovanni being sung by an English singer in Italian? Isn't it a given nowadays that any world class singer gets a coach if they are singing in a language that is not their mother tongue ? Surely Cura could do that?

Ben Heppner wasn't exactly how I'd visualised Grimes, but he was VERY effective in the part.

The point that ENO is doing a lot of Britten at present might be more of a reason for ROH not doing it. ENO has a very good cast for this, it should be excellent. Would people want to go to both?

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