On June 30th, at the Arena di Verona, Gregory Kunde sang Turandot‘s Calaf on stage for the first time. Last season he sang the role in a concert performance with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Zubin Mehta. The American tenor’s first staged Calaf could not have been more successful. After much applause, the audience at the Arena di Verona Opera Festival begged him for an encore of the famous aria Nessun Dorma. Accompanying Kunde on stage were Anna Pirozzi (Turandot), Antonello Ceron (Altoum), Giorgio Giuseppini (Timur) and Vittoria Yeo (Liù), among others, all under the musical guidance of Daniel Oren and with stage production by Franco Zeffirelli.
Specialised critics praised his performance in the following terms:
– “Gregory Kunde displays all of his vocal and stylistic wisdom, creating a heroic Calaf who is also very attentive to dynamics and phrasing. The two arias were triumphant and Nessun dorma, received with great joy during the performance, was also the encore offered in response to audience clamour”. Francesco Lodola (Leri, Oggi, Domani, Opera)
– “Equally good was Gregory Kunde -in the role of Calaf- who thanks to his past experience in bel canto gave a very refined and musically precise interpretation. A good actor, he showed no difficulty whatsoever during the performance and, even following an extraordinary execution of Nessun dorma, he made us prefer the encore performance of it, in which the famous final B emerged with even greater sonority. Andrea R.G. Pedrotti (L’Ape musicale)
– “It seems that time does not pass for Kunde’s Calaf. The tenor envelops the notes with phrasing and enviable breath control. The character is passionate, proud and has no fear of comparisons. Thanks to him an enthused audience shouted for an encore of Nessun dorma”. Maria Teresa Giovagnoli (MTG Lirica)
– “Gregory Kunde uses his consummate professionalism to make his vocal qualities follow his intentions, presenting a hurt and tormented Calaf drawn marvellously by the tenor with a fine use of accent and phrasing. His singing is, therefore, always sweet and connected and each phrase sagely produced with the perfect intention and expressivity. The consequence of all this was the encore that the artist generously offered of the well-known Nessun dorma.” Silvia Campana (OperaClick)
– “Splendid triumph for Kunde, as well, and no wonder. Born in 1954, the tenor fromKankakee, Illinois, began his career in 1978 and what a career it has been! It is simply amazing to think of what he has achieved now, at age 64: just over a month ago he sang Pollione in Bellini’s Normain Bilbao and now Calaf, in Puccini’s unfinished work, and always with unanimous opinions by critics and audiences, who adore him. The voice is firm and imposing in the high range, he has incredible breath control; obviously he sang the high variation, going up to the C in the final repetition. The pertinence of the phrasing is impressive, as is the performer’s composure, always maintained with great nobility: a sign of rare intelligence and control in a tenor. The lover’s vehemence was overflowing in the spectacular Nessun dorma, performed as an encore following the audience’s frenzied response, to the surprise of the tenor himself, who confided to us that this was the first encore he has given in a performance in his entire career. Thank you Gregory, for many other very pleasant evenings!” Andrea Merli (Impiccione Viaggiatore, I Teatri dell’Est e non solo)