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René Pape Stars in “Parsifal” at the Met and in “Die Walküre” on Disc

René Pape – an exponent of “the purest Wagnerian gravitas,” according to Gramophone – helps mark this year’s bicentennial of Wagner’s birth with productions on both sides of the Atlantic, plus a new Valery Gergiev-led recording of Die Walküre. Pape sings his signature Gurnemanz in the new François Girard production of Parsifal at the Metropolitan Opera, conducted by Daniele Gatti and running from February 15 to March 8. Past praise for Pape’s Gurnemanz at the Met includes New York magazine lauding his “textural beauty and expressive range,” with the New Yorker concluding, “He sang, as Domingo sings, with the conviction of a born actor.” This run of Parsifal – which Girard promises “will get to the hardcore reality of what Wagner is talking about” – finds Pape singing alongside his friend and fellow noted Wagnerian, Jonas Kaufmann.  Pape and Kaufmann also teamed last month for Wagner’s Lohengrin at Milan’s La Scala, with the New York Times review calling the bass “authoritative.” Pape also features in another of his signature Wagner roles – Wotan – in the recording of Die Walküre conducted by Gergiev and due out February 12. This first release in a “Ring” cycle from the Mariinsky Orchestra’s own label – available on Super Audio CD and download – sees Pape joined by Kaufmann and Nina Stemme.
On February 3, Pape will sing in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at Carnegie Hall with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim. Then there is more Wagner from Pape in March and April, when the bass returns to the Berlin State Opera for the reprise of its “Ring” cycle and performances of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, with Barenboim conducting. In June, Pape performs Die Walküre at La Scala (also under Barenboim), and the following month has Pape singing King Marke in Tristan und Isolde conducted by Kent Nagano at the Munich State Opera, as well as concerts featuring Wagner arias in Dresden and Aix-en-Provence.
For those desiring a preview of what marvels Pape can manage in Die Walküre, Lohengrin and Parsifal, there is his album Wagner Arias, released by Deutsche Grammophon in 2011. That acclaimed recording, with Barenboim conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin, presents the bass as Gurnemanz in Parsifal and Wotan in Die Walküre, as well as Heinrich in Lohengrin. The album was featured as an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine, where Arnold Whittall’s review summed up the singer’s appeal: It’s not often we hear this music so gorgeously intoned. . . . When it comes to sheer vocal refinement and the purest Wagnerian gravitas, René Pape is hard to beat.” Wagner Arias won Pape his second ECHO Klassik award, the German equivalent of a Grammy, for Opera Recording of the Year. WQXR, New York’s classical station, declared the album to be “a must for any Wagnerite.”
René Pape: upcoming engagements
Feb 3
New York, NY: Carnegie Hall
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra; Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Feb 15, 18, 21, 27; March 2, 5 & 8
New York, NY: Metropolitan Opera
Wagner: Parsifal – Gurnemanz
Daniele Gatti, conductor
More info
March 23; April 4, 13
Berlin, Germany: Berlin State Opera
Wagner: Das Rheingold – Wotan
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
March 24; April 5, 14
Berlin, Germany: Berlin State Opera
Wagner: Die Walküre – Wotan
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
March 30
Berlin, Germany: Berlin State Opera
Verdi: Requiem
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
April 1
Berlin, Germany: Berlin State Opera
Mozart: Requiem
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
May 2
St. Petersburg, Russia: Mariinsky Theatre
Concert: TBA
Valery Gergiev, conductor
May 12
Dresden, Germany: Dresden Music Festival
Elgar: Dream of Gerontius
Roderich Kreile, conductor
May 16
Florence, Italy: Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Verdi: Requiem
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
May 20
Salzburg, Austria: Salzburg Festival
Brahms: A German Requiem
West-East Divan Orchestra; Daniel Barenboim, conductor
June 18, 25
Milan, Italy: Teatro alla Scala
Wagner: Die Walküre – Wotan
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
July 6-7
Dresden, Germany: Albertinum
Wagner: Arias
Dresden Philharmonic; Juanjo Mena, conductor
July 11
Munich, Germany: Munich State Opera
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde – King Marke
Kent Nagano, conductor
July 18
Aix-en-Provence Festival, France
Wagner: Arias
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
July 25, 28
Munich, Germany: Munich State Opera
Verdi: Don Carlos – Phillip II
Zubin Mehta, conductor
July 27
Munich, Germany: Munich State Opera
Verdi: Requiem
Zubin Mehta, conductor
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© 21C Media Group, January 2013

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