Press Room

René Pape is Boris at the Met on Monday

On Monday, René Pape will make his house role debut as Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in a new production at the Metropolitan Opera (Oct 11-30).

The press is eagerly anticipating Pape’s first Met portrayal of the Russian tsar, giving the ‘glorious and powerful’ bass star coverage in several notable publications. Pape graced the cover of Opera News’s September issue, and in the New York Observer Zachary Woolfe writes about what New York audiences can expect to see and hear when the singer assumes his crown:

“The sheer beauty of the voice can make you forget how thoughtful the portrayals really are, how carefully each word is considered. He does the thing that great operatic voices do so well, particularly in his repertoire of conflicted gods and wounded kings: combining authority with vulnerability and tenderness. There are no broad effects, no yelling or sobbing, just a truthfulness that makes his characters’ emotions seem, in the way opera makes possible, simultaneously individualized and archetypal.”

Olivia Giovetti in Time Out New York eloquently examines the character that Pape will portray over the coming weeks, as well as observing how the conductor, Valery Gergiev, will likely bring an extra dimension to this music of his homeland:

“He’s a man who really suffered,” says Pape of the Russian Macbeth (whose short-lived reign in blood is splattered with discontent and madness). “He didn’t want to be the tsar; he was forced to be the tsar.… And this killing thing, it’s in his hands completely, from the first tone until he dies.” Like Shakespeare’s moody thane, Boris is a role that can be simply played as a wretched murderer. However, the role is far more compelling when the character’s complexities and moral ambiguities are explored for all they’re worth.  …

“It helps to have conductor Valery Gergiev, who has been a driving force in exposing Americans to the operas of his homeland, in the pit for this performance.  “He’s a genius as a conductor, and especially also in this field of Russian music, of course. He was born with it,” Pape explains of the imperious maestro. “For me, we are very close to each other, so it’s very easy to work with him. And it’s always a pleasure…. To make music also has to give you a pleasure as well; it’s not just thinking about technique or success.  You also need to feel free and have pleasure.”

After a production of Mussorgsky’s opera at Dresden’s Semper Oper in 2008, Pape’s performance in the title role was acclaimed for its theatrical power and technical sophistication. A critic for the Frankfurter Rundschau described how he “is not just a glorious and powerful voice planted on the stage, but also [he] succeeds as a figure driven to madness by stress, tension and despair. … Pape sings Boris with a voice beautifully modulated in every register and at every volume – tender, nuanced in the expression of his self-doubt, his urge for power, being an attentive father and the awareness of own guilt. There is no better performer of this role in the world today.” The Met’s production of Boris Godunov is directed by Stephen Wadsworth. After the opening fall run, Pape will return as Boris to the Met in March 2011.


“Met Mastersingers”  and an LA recital

While in New York for Boris Godunov, Pape will be featured in a “Met Mastersingers” presentation by the Metropolitan Opera Guild at Town Hall, on October 27. Pape will take the stage for an interview with host Paul Gruber, and a specially created video profile of the singer’s career will be shown. Pape will also sing a few of his favorite songs. The only other singer previously honored with such a Met Guild event was soprano star Renée Fleming.

On January 15, following his run in La Scala’s Die Walküre, Pape will give a solo lied recital at the Los Angeles Opera with pianist Brian Zeger.


René Pape’s fall/winter 2010-11 engagements

October 11, 15, 18, 23, 25, 30
New York, NY
Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov (title role)
Metropolitan Opera
Valery Gergiev, conductor; Stephen Wadsworth, stage director
October 27
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera Guild’s “Met Mastersingers”
Town Hall
December 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 28; January 2
Milan, Italy
Wagner: Die Walküre (Wotan)
Teatro alla Scala
Daniel Barenboim, conductor; Guy Cassiers, stage director
January 15
Los Angeles, CA
Lied recital
Los Angeles Opera
Brian Zeger, piano
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© 21C Media Group, October 2010

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