Regarded as one of the most elegant and accomplished tenors on the operatic stage today, Gregory Kunde has appeared regularly at the world’s most notable venues, including the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, Houston Grand Opera, Opéra Bastille, Théatre du Châtelet, Théatre des Champs Elysées, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Sydney Opera House. He has collaborated with many outstanding conductors and stage directors, including Bonynge, R. Abbado, Muti, Mehta, Plasson, Prêtre, Rattle, Dutoit, Nelson, Gardiner, Davis, Ronconi, Pizzi, Vick and Loy.
Recent highlights include the title role of Verdi’s Otello at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice and at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia with Zubin Mehta. Kunde’s interpretation of the part was described by critics as, “nothing short of a triumph… sensational. The voice carries exceptionally well, the top free and easy and completely secure throughout the range. What’s more, his singing was thoroughly Italianate – the style, the language, the use of words – it was impeccable. Simply outstanding.” (Opera Traveller, June 2013)
Other recent engagements include Gualtiero Il Pirata (Gran Teatre del Liceu); Arrigo I Vespri Siciliani (in Athens and Bilbao); Radames Aida (Teatro Municipal de Sao Paulo), Raoul Les Huguenots (Opéra national du Rhin), the title role of Rossini Otello (La Monnaie), Verdi Messa da Requiem under Roberto Abbado (Teatro Massimo, Palermo), Riccardo Un ballo in maschera (Teatro Regio di Torino), Rodrigo La donna del lago (Theater an der Wien), and Faust La damnation de Faust (with Maestro Dutoit in Amsterdam). Other roles include Rinaldo Armida, Pollione Norma, Arnold Guillaume Tell, Arrigo Vespri Siciliani both in Italian and French, and the title roles of La clemenza di Tito, Idomeneo and Poliuto.
Engagements in the 2013-14 season include Enee Les Troyens at La Scala, Milan; a role debut as Peter Grimes in Santa Cecilia with Pappano; and Vasco da Gama L'Africaine at La Fenice.
Kunde’s rich discography includes Berlioz Les Troyens at the Théâtre du Châtelet (Opus Arte DVD, Gramophone magazine’s ‘DVD of the Year’), Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini (Virgin Classics CD, Gramophone’s ‘Opera Recording of the Year’), and Benvenuto Cellini with Sir Colin Davis (LSO Live CD).
Gregory Kunde is represented by Intermusica worldwide, excl. Italy and Spain.
October 2013 / 348 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Title role Otello / Vlaamse Opera
Cond. Alberto Zedda / Ryuichiro Sonoda Dir. Moshe Leiser & Patrice Caurier
“Gregory Kunde as Otello was a big surprise. His transition from Rossinian to Verdian tenor is complete…I found his untiring, clear tenor and his noble impersonation entirely successful.”
Maurizo Venturini, Opera, April 2014
“Kunde…is a unique singer, since he also has Verdi’s Otello in his repertoire…Since his last appearance in Amsterdam…Kunde’s voice has become more dramatic, almost a heldentenor. It turns out that Rossini suits him just as well as Verdi. He contrasted fantastically with his rival Rodrigo.”
“Kunde…is een unieke zanger, aangezien hij ook de Otello van Verdi op zijn repertoire heeft staan. …Sinds zijn laatste optreden in Amsterdam…is Kundes stem dramatischer geworden, bijna een heldentenor. Voor Verdi zeer geschikt en, zo blijkt nu, voor Rossini evenzo. Hij contrasteerde daarmee fantastisch met zijn rivaal Rodrigo.”
Lennaert van Anken, Opera Magazine (Netherlands), February 2014
Title role Peter Grimes / Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (concert performance)
Cond. Antonio Pappano
“There was exceptional singing from a cast led by Gregory Kunde as Grimes.”
Luigi Bellingardi, Opera, February 2014
Vasco de Gama L’Africaine / Teatro La Fenice
Cond. Emmanuel Villaume Dir. Leo Muscato
“The great tenor Gregory Kunde played Vasco in this version; a man who is courageous, but irresponsible in his love life; a character, as Hanslick would say, that “always loves the woman he has in front of him at the moment.” Kunde’s entrance on stage immediately showed off his best quality: the resonant, decisive and confident high pitch register. That brilliant start convinced us, and we knew that we were going to get what we expected. The famous aria was sung in a sublime manner..His art generated emotion through legato and an intelligent management of tempo. It luckily wasn’t a “muscular” version, and the warm applause crowned a moment which we all knew would be historic.”
“El gran tenor Gregory Kunde representó al Vasco de esta versión, es decir un hombre de coraje pero un irresponsable en lo afectivo; un personaje, como diría Hanslick, que “ama siempre a la mujer que tiene delante en ese momento”. La entrada de Kunde en escena mostró inmediatamente lo mejor de su bagaje: el agudo seguro, decidido, squillante. Ese brillante comienzo nos convenció y supimos que lo que estábamos esperando iba a ser posible. El aria célebre fue cantada de manera sublime…Su arte provocó emoción a través de un legato y una gestión inteligente del tiempo. No fue, por suerte, una versión “muscular” y los aplausos calurosos coronaron un momento que los presentes sabíamos histórico.”
Anibal E. Cetrángolo, Mundo Clasico, January 2014
“Venice cast good voices where they mattered most, and in Gregory Kunde’s Vasco found a heroic tenor with a bel canto background. He was as exciting as the role demands, and that bel canto experience showed in the way he shaped phrases, not least in the opera’s most famous number, ‘O Paradis’, sung with more line-caressing subtlety than Domingo brings to it on DVD and recalling rather some of the celebrated earlier exponents of the aria. He also had the power where needed, and the climaxes of ‘O Paradis’ and the love duet were wonderfully old-fashioned operatic moments such as one seldom hears today.”
Luigi Bellingardi, Opera, February 2014
“The great triumph lies with Gregory Kunde…With an edge to the sound, and a valor in the delivery which was thrilling, the American tenor gave an exceptional performance, also in terms of diction.”
“Le grand triomphateur reste Gregory Kunde…Avec un métal dans le timbre et une vaillance dans l’émission qui font passer le frisson, le ténor américain réalise une performance tellement exceptionnelle, y compris sur le plan de la diction.”
Opéra Magazine, December 2013
Title role Otello / Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova
Cond. Andrea Battistoni Dir. Davide Livermore
“His timbre [is] expressive of the most profoundly complex emotional response. His climactic first entrance was fearlessly phrased, and he effortlessly nailed the notorious acciaccatura on the high B natural, which causes most tenors to choke themselves. By the time of the love duet, however, he was demonstrating a subtlety and variety of feeling reserved only for the great. There was no pomposity, but a tender legato neither exaggerated nor sentimentalized. He expressed his ardour without breaking the vocal line or vulgarizing it (certainly a legacy of his bel canto experience), and there was real wonder in the final lines. His is an Otello capable of more than self-obsession: something noble and valuable is at stake. The tender majesty of his death scene, monolithic at first and touchingly intimate at “E tu, come sei pallida” was heartbreaking and unforgettable.
Vocally the role presented no hurdles for him. His medium has darkened and thickened (in a positive way) enough to sustain the tessitura, which – albeit basically central - explodes in frequent, sudden and strenuous jolts towards the top, with plenty of exposed high notes, which Kunde preserves intact: he actually held the treacherous high C of “vil cortigiana!” a few seconds longer than the eight-note indicated by Verdi.
Many veteran singers decide to add dream roles to their repertoire late in their careers, and in most cases it is nothing more than the wish to satisfy a whim. Their fans accept it and even love such efforts as a reward for a formidable career, fully knowing that these endeavours do not add much to their legacy. Here on the other hand we are in the presence of a tenor who succeeded – on the wrong side of fifty - not only in leaving a considerable mark on the non-plus-ultra of Italian roles, but in becoming its current most plausible testimonial.”
Nicola Lischi, Opera Britannia, January 2014
“Gregory Kunde was a magnificent Otello: with an immense voice, which was also flexible and capable of extreme refinement. It is enough simply to remember the love duet in the first act.”
“Gregory Kunde è stato un magnifico Otello: voce immensa, ma duttile e capace anche di estreme raffinatezze. Basti ricordare il duetto d'amore del primo atto.”
L’Arena, December 2013
Radames Aida / Teatro Municipal Sao PaoloDVD / Antenore Zelmira / Pesaro Festival / Decca
Dir. Marco Gandini
“American tenor Gregory Kunde’s Radames was complex and compelling from the start – as was his clear Bb at the end of the first act.”
Folha de S. Paolo, August 2013
Cond. Roberto Abbado
“Supremely difficult in this opera is the second primary tenore role of traitor Antenore. This is played by the American Gregory Kunde, a real ‘bari-tenor’ with a serious middle range, perfect projection and a remarkable roundness that embodies this unsavory role. He also confronts the vocal acrobatics that Rossini has packed into this part with great determination.” Classic Toulouse
, July 2013
Otello Otello / Palau de les Arts Valencia, Mediterranean Festival
Cond. Zubin Mehta
“Tonight’s Otello though was nothing short of a triumph. I first saw Gregory Kunde a decade ago as Énée in Paris. He was superb in the role, much better than the heldentenors that opera houses usually insist on casting. His Otello however was sensational. The voice carries exceptionally well, the top free and easy and completely secure throughout the range. How wonderful it is to hear an Otello with glorious bronze tone, who doesn’t bark, who gives exquisite pianissimi in the love duet and who also has the volume for a thrilling ‘esultate’. What’s more, his singing was thoroughly Italianate – the style, the language, the use of words – it was impeccable. Simply outstanding.”
Opera Traveller, June 2013
“Two real giants, the American tenor Gregory Kunde and Spanish baritone Carlos Alvarez, brilliantly marked both sides of the Shakespearean archetype. The first voice, powerful and beautiful, strong and moving, has had an unusual career since I met with it years ago in bel canto, tenor di grazia roles. The muscle and the sound of his spectacular cannon, almost dramatic spinto, knows how to be as emotional as Placido Domingo...”
La Opinion de Tenerife, June 2013
“American Gregory Kunde , a singer who is living, at age 59, his golden age…
…a voice of great musicality, unstoppable in the upper register, with a solid centre, impeccable phrasing and great dramatic resources.”
El Periodico, June 2013
“The biggest triumph of the evening was American tenor Gregory Kunde, whose portrayal of Otello was vocally powerful yet beautiful and nuanced with near-perfect phrasing, in a role which is very demanding both vocally and dramatically. His Otello was brave and in love, yet tormented by doubt and distrust, unable to discern between Desdemona's fidelity, and the disloyalty of Iago, his ensign…”
MSN News, Chile, June 2013
“American Gregory Kunde, a convincing and tormented Otello, received bravos from the fans, some of them standing.”
Terra Noticias, Valencia, June 2013
Mario del Monaco Tribute Gala / Teatro Carani
“Among the artists, there was also the tenor Gregory Kunde who is considered by many to be one of the most elegant and complete bel canto singers on the opera scene today…”
Gazetta di Moderna, March 2013
Gualtiero in Bellini Il Pirata / Liceu Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
cond. Antonino Fogliani / Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona
“The presence of Gregory Kunde at Liceu raised considerable expectations. Happily, his Gualtiero was excellent. His voice has gained in weight in recent years, his technique is outstanding, his diction impeccable, and his high register infallible. I had the impression that he wasn’t always at his full vocal power, but nothing that could mar this excellent performance.”
José Mª Irurzun, Seen and Heard International, January 2013
Antenore in Rossini Zelmira / Rossini Opera Festival
cond. Roberto Abbado / dir. Giorgio Barberrio Corsetti (Decca)
“Gregory Kunde was a perfect counterpoint to Flórez, with a completely different timbre that was sombre and dense, diving beautifully into the lower register. He was dramatically very skilful, making the treacherous Antenore more than just a baddie in a melodrama”.
“Après le contraltino, le baritenore : Gregory Kunde apporte à Flórez un parfait contrepoint, avec un timbre entièrement différent, sombre et dense (ah, ces soudaines plongées dans le grave !), et avec un tout autre métier sur le plan théâtral, sans quoi le traître Antenore se réduirait à un méchant de mélodrame”.
Laurent Bury, ForumOpera, November 2012
Title Role in Verdi Otello / La Fenice
cond. Myung-Whun Chung / dir. Francesco Michelis
“Gregory Kunde gave a compelling portrayal of Otello both vocally and dramatically”.
Opera Now, February 2013
“Kunde’s performance was formidable”.
Susan Nickalls, Financial Times
, November 2012
“Gregory Kunde as Otello [has] the ringing tones necessary for the sudden thrilling outbursts that characterise the opera”.
Paul Gent, The Telegraph, November 2012
“Gregory Kunde’s Otello was simply amazing; he delivers every nuance of character with the strength that Verdi singing requires, and combines it with the technical skill and elegance of phrasing that one derives from Rossini and bel canto repertoire. Every accent, every color requested by Verdi is returned by Kunde with sensitivity and intelligence”.
“Semplicemente straordinario l’Otello di Gregory Kunde, capace di rendere ogni sfumatura del personaggio con la forza che il canto verdiano richiede, unendola alla perizia tecnica ed all’eleganza del fraseggio che gli deriva dal repertorio rossiniano e belcantistico. Ogni accento, ogni colore richiesto da Verdi è restituito da Kunde con sensibilità ed intelligenza”.
Alessandro Cammarano, OperaClick.com, November 2012
Pollione in Bellini Norma
Festival Bellini / cond. Giuliano Carella / dir. Enrico Gastiglione
“Pollione was sung by Gregory Kunde, whose timbre and style are remarkable ...”
Paperblog, July 2012
Otello in Rossini Otello
La Monnaie / cond. Evelino Pidò
“The virtuoso soloists drew bravissimos from the audience with a festive demonstration of bel canto vocal prowess. Gregory Kunde was credible and moving in the lead role, his powerful, somber tenor conveying the character’s wrenching anguish.”
Jim Ruane, Bloomberg News, May 2012
“Kunde was an Otello par excellence... His vocal projection, his style, his identification with the role were outstanding... it will be a challenge for anyone trying to reach, or even surpass this high level.”
Jorge Binaghi, Mundoclasico.com, May 2012
Mahler Das Lied von der Erde (Naxos)
“[The strings’] lean but incisive quality makes for some real chamber-musical moments … many of which tenor Gregory Kunde sensitively shares. Indeed, the two drinking songs and the porcelain-pavilion intermezzo are as energised as any on disc. Kunde can manage the impossibly high tessitura and never forces his voice”
David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, February 2012