Gregory Kunde triumphs with Samson et Dalila at Les Arts de Valencia

2016-01-28
Gregory Kunde triumphs with Samson et Dalila at Les Arts de Valencia

The tenor Gregory Kunde scores yet another triumph in this year’s season, this time in the role of Samson, in the Samson et Dalila staged by Les Arts de Valencia from January 12th to January 23rd.

The performance on January 20th was really something special because Plácido Domingo was the conductor. The two coincided 35 years ago in a Samson staged in Chicago, with the Madrid-born maestro in the starring role. Now, Plácido Domingo leads the orchestra and Kunde, who is singing this role for the first time, becomes the leader of the Israelites who is the main character in Camille Saint-Saëns’ beautiful opera, in celebration of the former’s 75th birthday. The musical direction of the other performances was by Roberto Abbado.

The production, by Carlus Pedrissa, of the Fura dels Baus, had to be slightly modified, so that the American tenor, who had injured his leg during a rehearsal, could go on stage. Despite the mishap, the work of Gregory Kunde has been very well-received by opera critics, who have expressed themselves in the following terms:

“Gregory Kunde was making his debut in the role of Samson, a true test of fire for a tenor because of its dramaticism (…). Vocally he once again broke the mold, performing as a first-class Samson, especially in Act III in which his voice flowed with the role’s true weight and dramatic colour. Most definitely, the tenor expands his legend once again.” César Rus (Las provincias)

“The misfortune (his injury) is largely forgotten in light of this great tenor’s miraculous vocal qualities. Kunde does not do a classically balanced Samson like the one given by Domingo; he leans instead toward the heroic and suffering aspects, for which his impressive voice is perfect. When Kunde sings there’s a party in the air, from the beginning to the end. Let’s hope it lasts many years.” Joaquín Guzmán (ABC_Valencia)

“The performance of the American tenor Gregory Kunde was certainly worthy of praise because even performing with an injury he had more than enough vocal power to be an excellent Samson. (…). The physical limitation did not prevent him from showing off an intense and powerful voice that reached the depths of Samson, the hero and saviour of the Israelites but who ended up being conquered by Delilah’s charms. The audience rewarded his determination and dedication with enthusiastic applause afterwards.” (Agencia EFE)

“Gregory Kunde marks another milestone. The American tenor, who is 61 years old and has reached the top during the later stages of his career, interpreting 15 ambitious new roles in just three years, successfully debuted as Samson on Tuesday at the Palau de les Arts de Valencia (…). Kunde’s mobility problems were no impediment to him unfurling his precise timbre, his musicality and his vocal power.” César López Rosell (El periódico)

“Gregory Kunde interpreted a valiant and musically generous Samson (…). A Samson with the aesthetics of the Hulk was able to offer an expressive palette that went full circle, from the initial recitative (…) with a vocal strength that was measured and always plethoric in all registers, to the most lyrical and intimate moments of the duets with Delilah and especially in the last act’s recitative with chorus, “Vois ma misère, hélas! vois ma détresse!”; an excellent example of phrasing and musicality.” Nicolás Piquero (OperaWorld)“Gregory Kunde demonstrates with each new debut his absolute love for and devotion to his work, with such a confident vocal and dramatic technique that it seemed he had been singing the role for years, although he has done only a handful of performances. An impeccable musician, the writing of this Samson suits Kunde’s current vocal characteristics perfectly, with long legato lines in which he displayed a fiato worthy of respect and also a first high note that he nailed and then gave a round centre which was very attractive, with hints of spinto.” Rubén Martínez (Revista Codalario)

“Gregory Kunde has debuted as Samson in Valencia and again he has done it with high marks, approaching the extraordinary (…). What really stands out is how incredibly well his voice matches the part (…), he gives Samson a voice that is lyrical yet intense, he is flawless in his knowledge of the style and in his work with the text.”  Alejandro Martínez (Platea Magazine)

Gregory Kunde is one of the world’s most highly sought-after tenors. In recent months he has sung Otello, by Rossini, at La Scala in Milan, as well as Aida at the Verona Arena, Norma at the Liceu, La Fenice and the Munich Opera, and Il Trovatore at La Fenice and in A Coruña. He also performed the role of Roberto Devereux in Bilbao and in Madrid, opening Teatro Real’s current season. At the Teatro de la Maestranza of Seville he recently performed Verdi’s Otello.

Kunde’s upcoming engagements include Rossini’s Otello (Gran Teatre del Liceu de Barcelona), Manon Lescaut (ABAO-Bilbao), Idomeneo (Les Arts de Valencia), Les Troyens (Hamburg Opera), Otello (Cincinnati Opera) with James Conlon, and Il Trovatore (Royal Opera House), with Maestro Noseda.