Heldentenor Brenden Gunnell has won critical acclaim in his current title-role in Britten’s Peter Grimes at Oper Leipzig. The production premiered on the 13 May and runs through to the 19 October. The reviews were unanimous in their praise for his portrayal of the character:

“A performance of Peter Grimes naturally rises and falls with the performer of the title character. Leipzig is fortunate to be able to cast this role with a member of the ensemble, the American tenor Brenden Gunnell. On the one hand, his Grimes is in some passages a deeply feeling poet with ravishingly tender tones: “Now the Great Bear and Pleiades. On the other hand, however, he is not only impetuous and rough in his demeanour, but also in his voice. Just think of the harsh words with which he rejects Ellen: “Take away your hand! Gunnell’s final monologue, when Grimes realizes that there is no place for him in society, is somewhere between turmoil and resignation – it is shattering and has stayed with me long after the opera is over.” – Opernglas

“Brenden Gunnell is a first class Grimes” – Freiepresse

“At the center is Brenden Gunnell. He sings the title role full of emphasis, beautiful, sonorous, powerful.” – Sächsische Zeitung

“Brenden Gunnell renders the title role extremely impressively, singing and acting a torn, haunted character” – ONM

“First and foremost in the title role is the American Brenden Gunnell, a grumpy, gnarly, red-haired tenor who comes across as a picture book Brit and fisherman. Not only in acting, but also in singing, he spans a wide arc from the lyrical to the heroic.” – NMZ

“…With him, his scenic presence as well as with his wonderfully bright, powerful, clear and phonetically flawless tenor, the musical threads of this impressive production come together.” – LVZ

“He met the challenges of the role with heldentenoral power and revealed a full sound that gave the needs of the outcast eruptive power. Lyrical intimacy and a variable range were at his disposal, as was a subtle intonation developed from the word.” – IOCO

Last Saturday as a last minute jump in, Gunnell made his Gewandhaus debut with the Gewandhaus Octet, singing G. Mahler’s The Song of the Earth. The concert formed part of the Leipzig Mahler Festival, a celebration of Mahler’s orchestral works. Gunnell also performed with the Gewandhausorchester the following evening at short notice, singing Mahler’s 8th symphony conducted by Andris Nelsons.


The much sought-after Heldentenor Brenden Gunnell is renowned in opera and in concert. Born in the USA, he has gained an international reputation for his clarion and carefully nuanced tone, effortless upper tessitura, clear articulation, and intense acting style. Recent and upcoming highlights include Verdi’s Requiem in the Pisa Cathedral with Staatskapelle Halle, a concert performance of Die Walkure with the Philharmonie Zuidnederland in Eindhoven, The Dream of Gerontius in the Hauptkirche St. Michaelis in Hamburg, as well as with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Erik in Der Fliegende Hollander at the Komische Oper Berlin, Idomeneo at the Opéra National de Lorraine, Paul in Die Tote Stadt and Florestan in Fidelio.

Photo credit: Kirsten Nijhof/ Gert Mothes