Known for his “wonderfully bright, powerful, clear and phonetically flawless tenor” (Leipziger Volkszeitung), Brenden Gunnell has fast established himself as a key player in the next generation of heldentenors.
Born in the USA, Brenden has been an ensemble member of Oper Leipzig since the 2022/2023 season. His upcoming roles with the company include Siegmund Die Walküre, Sergej Lady Macbeth von Mtsensk and the title role in Peter Grimes; a role he’ll also sing for Oper Köln. In the 2023/2024 season, his concert engagements include Das Paradies und die Peri with Symphoniker Hamburg/Sylvain Cambreling and Das Lied von der Erde with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Alpesh Chauhan. The upcoming season will see Brenden’s debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Boston Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall, performing the role of Sergej in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk under the baton of Andris Nelsons. The concert will be recorded for release on the Deutsche Grammophon label.Read more
Brenden’s recent operatic roles have included Herodes Salome for Oper Leipzig; Erik Der fliegende Holländer for the Komische Oper Berlin; the title role in Lohengrin for the Bolshoi Theatre; Duke of Kent in Reimann’s Lear and Hüon in a new production of Oberon for the Bayerische Staatsoper; Prince Rusalka for the Glyndebourne Festival and Bergen National Opera; Loge Das Rheingold for the Birmingham Opera Company and for the Göteborg Opera; Jimmy Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny for Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; Jenik The Bartered Bride for Garsington Opera; the title role in Peter Grimes at the Staatstheater Saarbrücken and the title role in Idomeneo for Opéra National de Lorraine.
On the concert platform, 2023 marked Brenden’s debut with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig singing both Das Lied von der Erde with Matthias Foremny and Mahler Symphony No. 8 with Andris Nelsons.
He is particularly noted for Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, which he debuted with the Symphoniker Hamburg/Sir Jeffrey Tate. He has subsequently sung the work with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Dortmund Philharmoniker, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Ryan Wigglesworth, and for the Rheingau Musik Festival. Other recent highlights include Mahler Symphony No. 8 with Filarmonica della Scala/Riccardo Chailly and at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Fabio Luisi; Verdi Requiem with the Staatskapelle Halle/Hartmut Haenchen and a concert performance of Die Walküre with the Philharmonie Zuidnederland/Hartmut Haenchen.
After completing his studies at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 2006, Brenden Gunnell was a member of the ensemble at the Tiroler Landestheater in Innsbruck from 2007 to 2011, under artistic director KS Brigitte Fassbaender, and a member of the Ensemble of the Den Norske Opera and Ballet from 2011 to 2013.
“His hefty instrument is also capable of considerable subtlety and that was evident in his poetic account of the ‘Great Bear and Pleiades’ solo, and in the variety of timbres he brought to the Mad Scene, from a barely perceptible whisper to agonized cries of rage as he mimicked the chorus clamouring for rough justice. Leipzig, an ensemble company, is lucky to have him on a part-time contract.”
“New to the cast is tenor Brenden Gunnell, who is so strongly cast that he is chiefly the one who remains in the memory, causing the production of Wake-Walker to somewhat fade . After seeing Gunnell as the title character, it’s hard to imagine another tenor as Grimes. It’s as if Gunnell has captured a monopoly in our mind.”