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René Pape to Make Debut as Wotan at La Scala

German bass René Pape impressed Chicago recently with his Lyric Opera portrayal of Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust (his only U.S. engagements this season); he now returns home to the Berlin State Opera for holiday performances as Sarastro in Mozart’s Magic Flute.  Meanwhile, he prepares for his third recital, scheduled for January 24, 2010 in Seville, Spain, and for the role he was destined to perform: Wotan in Wagner’s Das Rheingold, in a new production under Daniel Barenboim at La Scala Milan, which opens on May 13, 2010.

Pape honored Carnegie Hall and his U.S. audiences with the first solo recital of his career in April 2009, earning accolades like a New York Times review that read, in part:

“For pure, soul-wrenching introspection, nothing on the program – not even in Dichterliebe – quite matched Mr. Pape’s rendering of the Wolf Michelangelo songs, particularly the central meditation on mortality, ‘Alles endet, was entstehet.’”

 A Chicago Sun-Times critic, reporting on Pape’s Lyric Opera Méphistophélès in Faust this fall, called him “today’s reigning bass.”  Another typical review is this one from the Chicago Tribune:

“Sealing the triumph was the debonair and sardonic Méphistophélès of René Pape…, a grand seigneur of evil, commanding his every scene with a wicked wink and an urbane shrug.  What’s more, his singing was a perfect match for his characterization: he rolled out his pliant, powerful bass for the Golden Calf song and the mocking serenade.”

Pape is a dramatic animal whose on-stage presence in a dozen roles regularly wins acclaim.  Still, his fans yearn to hear him in the more intimate atmosphere of the recital.  Acknowledging this, Pape will expand his recital activities in Europe, starting in Seville on January 24, 2010, when, with fellow Dresden native, pianist Camillo Radicke, he plans a program of songs by Schubert, Wolf, and Schumann.

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist, René Pape just received a German ECHO Klassik award (equivalent to a Grammy) for his solo debut album, “René Pape: Gods, Kings & Demons” in the category “Operatic Recording of the Year: Arias and Duets.”  According to International Record Review magazine:

“Pape seems to have everything, including a magnetism which he exerts not only when he appears on stage – how many performances of Tristan have been rescued from mediocrity by King Marke’s arrival, when Pape is taking one of his favorite roles?… – but also on disc, as this first solo recital from him immediately testifies.”

On a brand new recording for EMI Classics, Pape sings the bass part in Verdi’s Requiem conducted by Antonio Pappano, which has earned significant praise for the German bass; London’s Observer wrote “René Pape is an aristocratic, authoritative bass… . A total triumph.”  Pape is to repeat the Verdi Requiem in two Munich performances led by Valery Gergiev in January, just before his Seville recital debut, and also sings the title part in two performances of Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah in Barcelona next February.

In February and March 2010, at his home company, the Berlin State Opera, Pape reprises Méphistophélès in Faust; his signature role of King Marke in Tristan und Isolde; and Prince Gremin in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.  Most importantly, he participates in a special recital gala, a fundraiser on March 5 for the renovation of the famous home of the Berlin State Opera “Unter den Linden”.  Daniel Barenboim and James Levine will play both sets of Brahms Liebeslieder-Walzer (Op. 52 and Op. 65) with a quartet of top-flight singers – Dorothea Röschmann, Waltraud Meier, Matthew Polenzani, and Pape himself.

All of which leaves a little time for the man Opera News calls “the world’s most charismatic bass” and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung calls “the greatest operatic bass in the world” to finalize preparations for the role debut of a lifetime: as Wotan in Wagner’s Rheingold, in Milan with Barenboim in May.

[“Today’s reigning bass” – Chicago Sun-Times, Oct 2009]

René Pape: performances from December 2009 through May 2010

December 12, 15, 26, 28, and 30
Berlin, Germany
Mozart: The Magic Flute (Sarastro)
Berlin State Opera / Frank Beermann, Julien Salemkour

January 8 and 9
Munich, Germany
Verdi: Requiem
Munich Philharmonic / Valery Gergiev
January 24
Seville, Spain
European recital debut (Schubert, Wolf, Schumann)
Teatro de la Maestranza
with Camillo Radicke, piano
February 17 and 19
Barcelona, Spain
Mendelssohn: Elijah
Gran Teatre del Liceu / Antoni Ros-Marbà
February 28 and March 7
Berlin, Germany
Gounod: Faust (Méphistophélès)
Berlin State Opera / Alain Altinoglu
March 5
Berlin, Germany
Brahms: Liebeslieder-Walzer, Op. 52 and Op. 65
Berlin State Opera / Daniel Barenboim
March 21 and 28; April 2
Berlin, Germany
Wagner: Tristan and Isolde (King Marke)
Berlin State Opera / Daniel Barenboim
March 26 and 31; April 5
Berlin, Germany
Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin (Gremin)
Berlin State Opera / Daniel Barenboim
May 13, 16, 19, 22, 26, and 29
Milan, Italy
Wagner: Das Rheingold (Wotan)
Role debut – new production
Teatro alla Scala / Daniel Barenboim

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© 21C Media Group, November 2009

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