Kunde studied choral conducting and voice at Illinois State University before making his professional debut in 1978 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Cassio in Otello, later singing Prunier in La rondine, and Vanya in Katya Kabanova. He appeared at the Opéra de Montréal as Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette, and as Arturo in I puritani, opposite Luciana Serra, which revealed his affinity for the bel canto repertory and his impressive upper register, reaching a high F (above the tenor high C) in falsettone. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as des Grieux in Massenet's Manon.
He won considerable acclaim in Europe in Les Huguenots, A Life for the Tsar, and Anna Bolena, and at the Pesaro Festival in 1992, as Idreno in Semiramide, and in 1993, as Rinaldo in Armida, opposite Renée Fleming.
Other notable roles include; Mitridate, re di Ponto, Rodrigo in La donna del lago, Arnold in Guillaume Tell, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles, Roméo in Roméo et Juliette, Enée in Les Troyens etc. In November 2012 he made an unexpected, successful debut as Verdi's Otello in Venice, becoming possibly the first tenor able to sing both Rossini's and Verdi' s version in the same year.
He resides in Rochester, NY with his wife Linda, and his daughter Isabella.