Tenor José Cura was born December 5, 1962 in Santa Fe, Argentina; the product of a musical family, as a youth he studied under guitarist Juan di Maestro, and at 15 made his debut as a choral conductor. Within the year he expanded his studies to explore composition with Carlos Castro and piano with Zulma Cabrera, and in 1982 entered the School of Arts of the National University of Rosario, where the school's choirmaster encouraged Cura to further hone his vocal skills. Rejecting a career as a rugby player, he made his professional debut in 1991, singing in an open-air opera concert in Genoa, followed a year later by his Verona stage premiere in a production of Hans Werner Henze's Pollicino; 1994 saw Cura win top honors in the the International Operalia competition, and later that same year he made his U.S. debut. His London stage bow followed in 1995, and in 1997, Cura released his first solo album, Puccini Arias; Verismo appeared two years later. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi