Master Vocals: A Q&A with Gregory Kunde

One of the most talented tenors in the industry, Gregory Kunde has been dazzling audiences for nearly four decades. He discovered his affinity for opera while studying to be a choir conductor at Illinois State University. Kunde traveled the United States performing regional opera before expanding in Europe, where his career has mainly been based for the past 20 years. Honored as 2016 Male Opera Singer of the Year by the International Opera Awards, Kunde will come to Opera Naples on May 8, where he’ll perform selections from his upcoming CD of tenor arias.

Gregory Kunde
Photo credit: Chris Gloag

NI: What is your favorite role to perform?

Kunde: Otello, the epitome of the tenor repertoire. Every tenor wants to sing Otello, and I’ve been very fortunate to have the chance to do around 50 performances. It’s an incredible role—the Shakespearean character is so passionate and tormented. He’s a character you can really sink your teeth into.


What is the secret to your long-standing success?

There are two parts. The first is discipline—you have to take care of your voice and your body, and not push the voice farther than you know it can go. The other is that I really enjoy what I’m doing and I know it’s an incredible privilege to be able to do it. There’s definitely lots of hard work and sacrifices involved—it’s not easy being away from my family for 10 months of the year— but it’s the best job in the world.


What is your personal connection to Naples?

Ramón Tebar, Opera Naples’ Artistic Director. We met when we did a concert together in Spain and struck a connection right away. He’s a fantastic musician and like a brother to me, and I jump at any chance I get to work with him. He introduced me to Naples, where I found such warm and inviting people. He’s an incredible pianist as well and will be accompanying me in the concert.


What’s next for you?

I’m returning to Covent Garden to share the role of Otello this summer, and then I’m off to Israel for Turandot with the Israel Philharmonic. I won’t be back to the states until 2019 when I do L’Africaine in Dallas and then Otello again in Los Angeles. I’m also looking forward to the opening of the opera house in Naples, which I hope to be a part of.

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