Press Room

René Pape: Acclaim for CD and as King Marke

Phenomenal bass René Pape was in New York City just long enough to give two galvanic performances as King Marke in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde
with his friend and mentor Daniel Barenboim, who was making his
Metropolitan Opera debut. The role is one of Pape’s greatest, and New
Yorkers have been lucky enough to hear him sing it a dozen times
previously at the Met.

The New York Times review of his performance for Barenboim’s debut reported:

“The amazing bass René Pape was better than ever as King Marke…singing
with resplendent sound, unforced power, and magisterial authority. Few
singers have conveyed Marke’s feelings of betrayal by his beloved
nephew Tristan with such lofty, noble anguish.”

According to the AP, “René Pape repeated his deeply human portrayal of the cuckolded King Marke, and drew the loudest ovations of the night.” A few days later, a routine Times listing reiterated that “the amazing bass René Pape as King Marke give[s] mesmerizing performances.” And the Epoch Times weighed in, with: “The star of the evening was René Pape
as the betrayed King Marke. His monologue grew into one of the most
tumultuous moments of the evening with his majestic, warm bass. He
simply was the King – sensitive in his sadness and thunderous in his anger.” And the New Yorker states simply that René Pape’s “ownership of the role of King Marke is unquestioned.”

New York’s loss was Dresden’s gain when Pape had to return all too soon to the city of his birth, to portray Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov
in a new production, mounted for him at the Dresden State Opera
(December 17, 21, 23, 26, and 29, January 3) and conducted by Sebastian
Weigle, who partnered the bass for his debut arias CD on Deutsche

This recording, Gods, Kings and Demons
– released in the U.S. only a few weeks ago – is a solo survey of some
of René Pape’s greatest opera roles, and some he hasn’t yet performed
onstage. The arias are by Berlioz, Boito, Dvorák, Gounod, Offenbach,
Mussorgsky, Verdi, Wagner, and Anton Rubinstein, whose Demon provides one of the three devils on the disc – the only one in Russian, and a fantastic one at that! Gods, Kings and Demons is an hommage to the late George London, another protean bass of electrifying talent, whose widow gave to Pape London’s own recording of a similar collection. Pape’s Gods, Kings and Demons has been getting its share of raves: a capsule review in the New York Times “Gift Guide” declares:

“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
by Gounod, Boito, Berlioz, Verdi, Wagner, and others. This imaginative
program allows Mr. Pape to portray, chillingly, various gods, kings and
demons, as the title suggests.”

Gramophone’s feature review is headlined: “Probably the premier basso cantante of our time, René Pape is a good god, a good king, and a still better singer.” According to Travel + Leisure magazine, “The exceptional German bass singer makes every role he assumes – Wotan to Mefistofele – seem definitive and wholly new. This collection of arias by Wagner, Mussorgsky, Boito, and others are from operas for which Pape is justly celebrated.” Classic FM
magazine challenges: “I defy anyone to hear the relatively rarely
recorded, but spine-tinglingly sumptuous, arias from Anton Rubinstein’s
opera The Demon without melting into a heap.”

The Dresden Semperoper production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov
is René Pape’s second, the first being with Barenboim at the Berlin
State Opera “Unter den Linden” in 2005. The new Dresden production
opens on December 17, and helps stoke rumors that the Met will be the
third company to present this superb vocal giant in one of the most
demanding and fulfilling basso roles in the operatic repertory,
sometime in the next couple of seasons.

After a busy winter
in Europe, Pape will return to New York in the spring to take part in
the Met Opera’s “Ring” cycle (singing the roles of Hunding and Fasolt)
and for his long-awaited Carnegie Hall recital debut on April 25, 2009.

René Pape: upcoming engagements

Dec 17, 21, 23, 26, & 29, January 3; Dresden State Opera: Boris Godunov (title role)
Jan 9, 11, & 13, 2009; Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome: Verdi: Messa da Requiem, conductor: Antonio Pappano
Feb 15, 19, 22, 25, & 28; Berlin State Opera: Gounod: Faust (Méphistophélès), conductor: Alain Altinoglu; producer: Karsten Wiegand (new production)
Mar 6 & 9; Berlin State Opera: Parsifal (Gurnemanz), conductor: Daniel Barenboim
Mar 12; London Symphony Orchestra: Parsifal, Act III (Gurnemanz), conductor: Valery Gergiev
Mar 15; Metropolitan Opera, New York: Gala Concert “125 Metropolitan Opera”, conductor: James Levine
Apr 4, 8, & 12; Berlin State Opera: Lohengrin (König Heinrich), conductor: Daniel Barenboim; producer: Stefan Herheim (new production)
Apr 10; Berlin State Opera, Orchestra and Choir, Teatro alla Scala di Milano: Verdi: Messa da Requiem, conductor: Daniel Barenboim
Apr 25; Carnegie Hall, New York: first Lied recital; pianist: Brian Zeger
Apr 23, 27, & May 4; Metropolitan Opera, New York: Das Rheingold (Fasolt), conductor: James Levine
Apr 28 & May 5; Metropolitan Opera, New York: Die Walküre (Hunding), conductor: James Levine

Return to Press Room