Press Room

René Pape’s Long-Awaited First Solo CD, Available Today

Opera News describes German bass René Pape as “an artist
who thrills his audiences with charisma, intelligence, and a
one-in-a-million voice.” It is no exaggeration to claim that his first
solo recording has been eagerly awaited, and for a very long time.
Since his 1995 U.S. double-debut at the Metropolitan Opera in Mozart’s Magic Flute and Wagner’s Meistersinger,
critics and audiences have been clamoring for a chance to hear more
from the artist than “mere” public performances. So the November 11
release of his first solo recording – Gods, Kings and Demons – is sure to be a major event.

Pape’s solo debut recording, on Deutsche Grammophon, is an overview of
many of the roles that have made his career, in addition to a couple of
rarities. Accompanied by Dresden’s Staatskapelle under Sebastian
Weigle, Pape embodies ten towering characters of 19th-century opera in
twelve scenes and arias, singing in five languages (French, Italian,
German, Russian, and Czech). For the first time, American audiences
will hear his Wotan, in the closing scene of Wagner’s Rheingold; the terrifying death scene of his Boris Godunov, which he has so far performed only in Berlin; both Boito’s and Berlioz’s versions of Mephisto – in Mefistofele and La damnation de Faust, respectively; Vodnik, the water-goblin of Dvorák’s Rusalka; and two selections from a nearly vanished rarity, Anton Rubinstein’s Demon.

Pape also performs one of his signature set-pieces, King Marke’s grief-stricken scene from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, as well as King Philip’s magnificently heartbreaking “Ella giammai m’amò”, from Verdi’s Don Carlo; two wicked arias from Gounod’s Faust; and, from Offenbach’s Contes d’Hoffmann, Dappertutto’s seductive “Scintille, diamant!”.

Pape has performed many of these roles to the highest critical acclaim
at the Metropolitan Opera and his home company, the Berlin State Opera
Unter den Linden. As a proud native son of Dresden, Germany, René Pape
expressly chose to make this debut solo recording with his home town
orchestra, one of the world’s oldest, the internationally renowned
Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, which was founded in 1548 and
celebrates its 460th anniversary this year!

Pape has
sung more often at the Met than at any other U.S. opera house, although
both Lyric Opera of Chicago and Los Angeles Opera have presented him,
and he has yet to participate in one of the international Met: Live in HD transmissions.

Early European reviews of Gods, Kings and Demons include praise from Germany’s top critics, including Axel Brüggemann, who wrote: “[Pape] doesn’t just sing Wagner’s King Marke, he breathes
his suffering; his King Philip and Boris Godunov are tyrants who
wrestle with their humanity. His voice is no one-dimensional deep
bass-rumble, but a rainbow-hued array of sounds.” (Rheinischer Merkur)

It was Pape’s first performance as Mussorgsky’s flawed Boris Godunov,
in Berlin in December 2005, that elicited the comment “world’s greatest
bass” from Germany’s principal national newspaper, the distinguished Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Only three months later, in Verdi’s Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera, Pape assayed his first King Philip II, a role he has sung often in Europe. The New York Times review stated:

The astounding German bass René Pape … so dominated the performance that Verdi’s Don Carlo might have been renamed The Tragedy of King Philip.
… Mr. Pape was wrenching in the immensely sad aria when the emotionally
shattered king, alone in his chamber, realizes that he has alienated
his son, is unloved by his wife, and is feared by his people.

René Pape will soon return to the Met for just two performances (Nov 28 and Dec 2) as King Marke in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde
– not incidentally, the belated house debut of his mentor and friend
Daniel Barenboim, the only conductor in the world who has led Pape in
more performances than the Met’s own James Levine.

However, Pape is scheduled to return to the U.S. in spring for two
thrilling firsts: on April 23, 2009 he will give a single Met Opera
performance as Wotan in Wagner’s Rheingold, followed by his Carnegie Hall recital debut on April 25, with pianist Brian Zeger.

# # #

René Pape: Gods, Kings and Demons

Arias by Berlioz, Boito, Dvorák, Gounod, Offenbach, Mussorgsky, Rubinstein, Verdi, & Wagner
Staatskapelle Dresden (Dresden State Opera Chorus and Orchestra) / Sebastian Weigle
Deutsche Grammophon 4776408


Gounod: Faust, “Le veau d’or”; “Vous qui faites l’endormie” (Méphistophélès)
Boito: Mefistofele, “Ecco il mondo” (Mefistofele)
Berlioz: La damnation de Faust, “Voici des roses” (Méphistophélès)
Verdi: Don Carlo, “Ella giammai m’amò” (King Philip II)
Offenbach: Les contes d’Hoffmann, “Scintille, diamant” (Dappertutto)
Wagner: Das Rheingold, “Abendlich strahlt der Sonne Auge” (Wotan)
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde: “Tatest du’s wirklich (King Marke)
Rubinstein: The Demon, “In the ocean of the air”; “Do not weep, my child” (The demon)
Dvorák: Rusalka, “Alas! Alas! Poor, pale Rusalka” (Vodnik, the water-goblin)
Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov, “Farewell, my son, I am dying” (Boris)

* Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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