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Bass René Pape: Acclaim for Boris Godunov (Dresden) & arias CD

René Pape’s Boris Godunov Earns Headlines in his Hometown of Dresden, While his Solo Recording, Gods, Kings & Demons, Makes Important “Best New CDs of 2008” Lists

Pape Gives His First Solo Recital at Carnegie Hall on April 25, 2009

“The world’s most charismatic bass,”* René Pape, returned in triumph to his home town of Dresden, Germany, in December, for his first new production at the city’s esteemed Semperoper – and the red carpet was rolled out. Posters were all over the city, and critical acclaim for his galvanic performance as Mussorgsky’s tortured Russian tsar, Boris Godunov, was unanimous. Meanwhile, year-end “Best CDs of 2008” lists were published internationally, several of them featuring Pape’s survey of operatic Gods, Kings & Demons, recorded on Deutsche Grammophon.

According to London’s Financial Times, the Dresden Boris “is a tormented man, a role played with riveting conviction by René Pape … . Pape is the consummate Boris, terrifying yet pitiable, a complex and charismatic ruler whose greatest battle is with himself. … This is not Pape’s first Boris, but it is surely his best.” The DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) wrote: “Pape celebrated an enormous success as Boris Godunov in his hometown of Dresden, not just because of his great singing. The audience was spellbound by acting that would have done a great film actor proud, and he embodied the psychic downfall of Czar Boris thrillingly.”

The influential German website was struck by the contrast between the modernized production and Pape’s classic portrayal: “Pape’s sung Boris is totally unlike the production: his scruples interfere in no way with the power, precision, and glorious sound of his voice. But still, Boris must fall.”

Die Welt, one of Germany’s major national papers, wrote: “Any opera company that can present a bass of such seductively tender, velvety, shocking, and passionate voice [as Pape’s] is in a winning position.”

The Frankfurter Rundschau stated that Pape’s Boris was “not just a glorious and powerful voice planted on the stage, but also succeed[ed] as a figure driven to madness by stress, tension, and despair.”

Fortunately, Pape fans who didn’t hear his Dresden or Berlin performances can get a taste of his characterization on his debut solo CD for Deutsche Grammophon – Gods, Kings & Demons – which features Boris’s electrifying death scene. “That the German bass René Pape is one of the most compelling artists to have emerged internationally in the last 15 years is proved again by his phenomenal singing on his new recording of arias,” says the New York Times “Holiday Gift Guide”.

Alex Ross, one of the most respected music writers in the US, and music critic of the New Yorker, named Gods, Kings & Demons one of the ten best classical recordings of 2008. Some of the other comments about this recording follow:
“German bass René Pape is one of the most compelling artists to have emerged internationally in the last 15 years, proven by his phenomenal singing on this new recording.”

Bloomberg Muse:
“With a voice of dark-brown purity, Dresden-born Pape is the basso of choice for roles ranging from the saintly (Tristan’s King Marke) to the diabolical (Faust’s Mephisto), wonderful to hear in any guise.” – Alan Rich

Boston Globe:
“The German bass is one of the most vocally exciting and dramatically forceful singers out there today. This disc of arias features music from two of his signature roles (Verdi’s Don Carlo and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde), plus a lot more.” – Jeremy Eichler

Later in 2009, another great Pape specialty will be made available on CD: in Rome this week, the German bass is giving three performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, with its terrifying bass arias. Antonio Pappano conducts the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and soloists Anja Harteros, Sonia Ganassi, and Rolando Villazón; EMI Classics has announced plans to release a live recording from these concerts later this year.

After a busy winter in Europe, Pape returns to New York in spring for the Metropolitan Opera’s 125th anniversary gala, and for his long-awaited Carnegie Hall recital debut on April 25. He also participates in the Met Opera’s “Ring” cycle under James Levine, as Fasolt in Das Rheingold and Hunding in Die Walküre. Details are given below and at the website
• Opera News

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René Pape: upcoming engagements

January 9, 11, & 13
Rome, Italy: Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Verdi: Requiem
Antonio Pappano, conductor, with Anja Harteros, Sonia Ganassi, and Rolando Villazón

February 15, 19, 22, 25, & 28
Berlin, Germany: Berlin State Opera “Unter den Linden”
Gounod: Faust (Méphistophélès)
Alain Altinoglu, conductor; Karsten Wiegand, director (new production)

March 6 & 9
Berlin, Germany: Berlin State Opera “Unter den Linden”
Wagner: Parsifal (Gurnemanz)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

March 12
London Symphony Orchestra
Wagner: Parsifal, Act III (Gurnemanz)
Valery Gergiev, conductor

March 15
New York City: Metropolitan Opera 125th Anniversary Gala Concert
James Levine, conductor

April 4, 8, & 12
Berlin, Germany: Berlin State Opera “Unter den Linden”
Wagner: Lohengrin (King Heinrich)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor, Stefan Herheim, director (new production)

April 10
Milan, Italy: Berlin State Opera at La Scala
Verdi: Requiem
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

April 25
New York City: Carnegie Hall
Recital debut with pianist Brian Zeger

April 23, 27, & May 4
New York City: Metropolitan Opera
Wagner: Das Rheingold (Fasolt)
James Levine, conductor

April 28 & May 5
New York City: Metropolitan Opera
Wagner: Die Walküre (Hunding)
James Levine, conductor

– January 13, 2009

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