Daniel Cucura

Daniel Cucura

Education

Education
Aug 1993 - May 1999

Bachelor of Music in Music Education

Westminster Choir College of Rider University

About Me

MUSICIAN.

ARTIST.

CLASSICAL TENOR.

ACTOR.

DESIGNER.

DIRECTOR.

TEACHER.

The roles listed above represent the seven distinct facets that compose my artistic identity.Each facet, in its own distinct way, focuses and refracts the creative energy that flows out of me through it.At the same time, each facet creates its own unique reflection of the world around it.(From my point view, the creative energy or artistic impulse doesn’t come from me; I am just the conduit.It is the same creative energy that exists in all things.To me it feels like the same energy from the same ‘Source’ whether I’m singing an Aria or composing a new painting.) My career as a multi-disciplinary performing and creative artist has included a diverse range of experiences from opera performance to teaching private voice lessons, from graphic design to set design, acting to theatrical consulting, and from conducting to stage direction.  My goal is to continue to create and find professional opportunities that incorporate all my artistic roles either individually or in various combinations. 

My artistic journey began with music.  I began playing violin and piano at an early age and singing when I was 16.  I would later decide to pursue a career as a professional singer.However, I have always been a person with a passion for trying new things: always ready to consider a challenging new idea, explore an unfamiliar landscape, or experience an exotic cuisine.  Also, I have always been interested in a wide array of diverse subjects.For example, in addition to art and music, I enjoy learning about history, philosophy, religion, politics, sociology, science, medicine, archeology, and technology.Moreover, the process of gradually uncovering and piecing together the complex web of interconnections between and among these (and other) disciplines remains one of greatest sources of meaning and fascination in my life.

Therefore, it seems completely natural and even, perhaps, inevitable that in time I would begin to explore various forms of artistic expression beyond the realm of music.I cannot recall any purposeful decision on my part to begin painting or doing scenic design one day.Rather the process of diversification unfolded gradually over a number of years.I can only describe it as a kind of organic synthesis of my various areas of interests and my innate abilities catalyzed at times by my passion for experimentation and exploration.

I am blessed with a highly-conceptual, visionary, creative mind as well as an extremely active (if at times slightly bizarre and unconventional) imagination.I have an excellent musical memory, spatial aptitude, sense of color, and have an exacting memory for aesthetic detail.I have a rather unruly sense of innate curiosity which compels me to learn about the who-what-why-and-wherefore of just about anything-- a pedantic kind of curiosity which, paradoxically, is both fueled and counterbalanced by an irrepressible wonderment for that which is Everything, that which is Everywhere, that which is infinite.For I believe that until one begins to understand and appreciate the specificity of each small part, the complexity of its interactions with other small parts, and the intricacy of its position and purpose within the larger matrix; one has little hope of ever coming to understand or appreciate the Whole.

The somewhat metaphysical application of gestalt principles in the previous paragraph is emblematic of the central role gestalt philosophy has played in shaping my broader worldview.It is the means by which I've come to identify and comprehend relationships in complex systems and draw meaning from them.Gestalt thinking informs and animates my artistic philosophy; it underpins and unifies my understanding of music, dance, theater, and the visual/graphic arts; and it motivates and organizes my approach to direction and design.

Each of us is the product of the countless people who have influenced and experiences that have shaped our lives over many years.  It's not often easy or even possible to identify the turning points.  For me there is one experience that I can point to with certainty as having been seminal to the development of my artistic philosophy, my gestaltic worldview,  and my philosophy of education (which I’ll say just a few words about in a moment).It would  be difficult to exaggerate the profound impact this experience has had on my life.When I was a junior in high school I had a brilliant teacher for AP English, Ms. Anne Pryor.   The thing I found fascinating about Ms. Pryor is that she had been a lawyer for some years, but felt something was missing.  Something deep inside was telling her that she should be teaching.  So she quit lawyering and became a teacher; and she loved it!   However, what was truly remarkable about Ms. Pryor was the extremely effective way she incorporated inter-disciplinary learning in her approach to teaching literature.  The curriculum was divided into units, as it often is,  based on the major periods of human history beginning with the Renaissance and the Reformation continuing through the Baroque, Classical, Romanticism, and Modernism.However, she made sure that these terms became, for us, far more than mere labels or chapter titles.  The literature we covered was not taught as if it existed in a vacuum (as is often the case in American education which tends to be much too highly compartmentalized);  but rather within its broad and dynamic natural context.Ms. Pryor made sure we understood how historical developments in religion, philosophy, economics and politics coincided with developments in science, technology, and architecture all of which would come to shape the music, art, and literature of a given period and define its overall character.For the first time ever, I was able to see, for example, how Francis Bacon, Mozart, & Mount Vernon all reflected the ideals of the Classical period.We learned how--during the Reformation--the radical ideals of Martin Luther, moveable type, and the Guttenberg Bible would empower people to seek a personal relationship with God through His revealed word.  We saw how these changes would pose the first successful challenge to the supremacy of the Catholic Church and its episcopal structure which along with a number of other developments would open the door for the emergence of the Enlightenment ideals of equality, liberty, and democracy expressed by Paine, Locke, and others.  Ideas which would come into full flower with individualism of the Romantic period realized in the poetry of Heinrich Heine, the stories of Poe, the music of Schumann, the transcendentalism, Self-Reliance, Leaves of Grass, etc.

Essentially Ms. Pryor was teaching us not only an AP English Lit course, but also a raft of related courses: Survey ofAmerican and European History from 1400-1990, Post-Medieval to Modern Art History course, Music History of same period, Introduction to Western Religion and Philosophy, and Political Science 101.One cannot hope to grasp the defining characteristics of the Romantic era until has some familiarity with the co-requisite coursework I detailed above.And if one has not mastered the defining characteristics of the Romantic era, in general, how can one be expected to understand anything about Romantic poetry?Of course, some of Ms. Pryor's raft of co-requisite material had been covered here or there in various places in the district curriculum dating back to junior high school; but often in very fragmented and ineffective ways. After all, Newton’s Laws of Thermodynamics are far more interesting when they are taught alongside Deist philosophy of the Age of Reason with a nice Haydn symphony (the aural embodiment of the well-ordered Classical universe) for musical accompaniment.  

In Ms. Pryor's classroom I learned the importance of focusing not just on the dots, but also on how those dots are connected.This lesson has been the cornerstone of my learning ever since.  It frustrates me that me that this process was not begun in kindergarten and continued thereafter.  My strong desire to help young people experience the joy of connecting those dots and recognizing the importance of doing so has become a central purpose and motivation of my teaching.Furthermore, my belief in the importance of inter-disciplinary learning in a fully-integrated K-12 spiral curriculum is at the core of my personal philosophy of education.  

Graphic Design

Skills

Skills

Microsoft Publisher 2007

Adobe Photoshop CS4

Photoshop has been my go to program for graphic design since 2002.  

Work History

Work History

Operan New Jersey

YearProductionDirector

2010      Carmen                                                             Bernard Uzan

I have been fortunate since 1995 to have had the opportunity to perform in some extraordinary operatic productions.  In particular, New York City Opera and The SpoletoUSA Festival are known for mounting cutting edge productions that really push the envelope of artistic expression.  These experiences have played an enormous role in shaping my artistic sensibilities.  I've listed the productions below along with the director's name.  

Mark Morris Dance Group

YearProductionDirector

2001      L'Allegro, il moderato ed il pensiero            Mark Morris

New York City Opera

YearProductionDirector

2001      Acis and Galatea                                             Mark Lamos

2001      I Capuleti                                                           Thor Steingraber

2002      L’Etoile                                                               Mark Lamos

2004      Carmen                                                             Jonathan Eaton

2005      La Fanciulla del West                                     Lilian Groag

2006      Acis and Galatea                                              Mark Lamos

2008      King Arthur                                                         Mark Morris

Berkshire Opera Company

YearProductionDirector

1998Magic FluteMatthew Lata

1999Barber of SevilleDorothy Danner

SpoletoUSA

YearProductionDirector

1995Der RosenkavalierGiulio Chazazettes

1996FalstaffNicolas Joël

1996The Excursions of Mr. BroĉekWolf Widder

1997WozzeckPatrice Caurier & Moshé Leiser

1997Curlew RiverPing Chong

1998JenufaPatrice Caurier & Moshé Leiser

1999Il TriticoKeith Warner

1999Die BürgschaftJonathan Eaton