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62-year-old tenor Gregory Kunde named ‘Best Male Singer’, ahead of major debuts this summer at Royal Opera House and BBC Proms

‘…Kunde was superb vocally and dramatically.’ El Pais


‘Gregory Kunde is the best tenor around at the moment.’ L’Arena


‘In this mythical role [of Otello]… Gregory Kunde is exceptional.’ Concert Classic



At the age of 62, the career of American tenor Gregory Kunde has taken a remarkable turn. Having already been showered with international awards in recent months, Kunde last night (15 May) won ‘Best Male Singer’ at the prestigious International Opera Awards and will make his debuts at both the Royal Opera House and BBC Proms this summer.


Since his opera debut in 1978, Kunde has had a successful international opera career, appearing regularly at many of the world’s leading venues, yet it is only as he enters his seventh decade that he has moved into the heaviest Italian tenor roles and by doing so has been praised for singing better than ever. Offers to sing such difficult roles not normally attempted by a tenor in his sixties include those from the Royal Opera House and the BBC Proms.


The Royal Opera House has invited Kunde to take on not one, but two of the most difficult operatic title roles in major Verdi productions in the coming year. He makes his debut in the title-role of Manrico in Il trovatore in July 2016, returning in early 2017, in David Bösch’s new production conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. His performance will be relayed live into more than 2,000 cinemas in 26 countries around the world in January next year.


Kunde returns to Covent Garden as Otello, one of opera’s most physically demanding and emotionally taxing roles, in summer 2017. In a brand-new production of Verdi’s masterpiece by Frank Warner, conducted by Antonio Pappano, Kunde shares performances with Jonas Kaufmann.


For his BBC Proms debut on 16 August 2016 he sings Mahler’s great symphonic song cycle Das Lied von der Erde with the Hallé under the baton of Sir Mark Elder alongside Alice Coote, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four TV.


As well as such prestigious debuts, Kunde’s astonishing new success has brought him renewed critical acclaim and significant international awards in recent months, including ‘best male opera singer’ in Spain’s prestigious Campoamor Theatre Awards and ‘best tenor’ by Italy’s GB Opera Magazine and now ‘Best Male Singer’ in London’s International Opera Awards.


This extraordinary ‘Kunde Renaissance’, the tenor says, is largely down to a chance remark by conductor Gianandrea Noseda who suggested that ‘you should be singing Verdi’. Already acclaimed for sensitive phrasing, impeccable style and dramatic command by the world’s opera cognoscenti as a ‘bel canto’ tenor singing lighter roles by such composers as Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini, Kunde was inspired to develop his maturing voice further and explore weightier ‘heroic’ tenor music by composers such as Verdi. An impulsive decision to tackle the role of Otello after another tenor fell ill in 2012 began a journey that has catapulted him to new heights of success.


Gregory Kunde says:

Over the past few years my reper­toire has changed from its foothold in ‘bel canto’ to an explo­ration of heavier, more lyric, works and I am hugely enjoying this new direction and to now also be singing more of the extra­or­di­nary music of Verdi, Puccini, Berlioz and even Mahler. I have had won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties to work closely with many conductors and singers, not least Alberto Zedda who made a des­per­ate call for me to first tackle Otello at the Rossini Opera Fes­ti­val in Pesaro after his tenor fell ill in 2007.  I had never stud­ied the role, but saying ‘yes’ ended up being the best deci­sion I ever made. It basi­cally re-established my rep­u­ta­tion and began what is called, in some cir­cles, a ‘Kunde Renais­sance’. I am blessed.


“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.” Opera


“Kunde…is a unique singer. 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.” Opera Magazine (Netherlands)


“Nothing short of a triumph… 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



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