The Scene


René Pape

René Pape
Jiyang Chen

Born in Dresden, Pape has been a member of the Berlin State Opera since 1988, but considers New York’s Metropolitan Opera his operatic “home away from home.” Since his house debut in 1995, he has appeared at the Met in 18 roles and more than 160 performances, including four major debuts: Méphistophélès in Faust, Gurnemanz in Parsifal, Escamillo in Carmen, and the Old Hebrew in Samson et Dalila. But it was at the famous Unter den Linden – home of the Berlin State Opera – where Pape honed most of the great roles of his career.

Music Director Daniel Barenboim was an early supporter, and the Berlin State Opera has played host to Pape’s performances as King Marke in Tristan und Isolde; King Heinrich in Lohengrin; Sarastro in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte; Pogner in Die Meistersinger; Rocco in Beethoven’s Fidelio; Fasolt in Das Rheingold; Hunding in Die Walküre; and the title role in Don Giovanni. The opera house was also the venue for Pape’s appearances as Ramfis in Verdi’s Aida; Figaro in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro; Leporello in Don Giovanni; and Orest in Strauss’s Elektra. In 2006 he expanded his repertoire to include the title role in Boris Godunov, which won him the title “Artist of the Year” from the German Critics Association.

Mr. Pape’s 201920 season highlights include Don Carlo and Parsifal at the Wiener Staatsoper; Don Carlo and Boris Godounov for Opéra national de Paris, Tristan und Isolde at the Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Die Zauberflöte, the New Year’s Concert Galas singing Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 at the Staatsoper Berlin.

He also sings two Lieder recitals with pianist Camillo Radicke: at Graz’s Musikverein and at the Wiener Staatsoper, where he will also perform at the Europäische Kulturpreis Pro Europa.

His 201819 season included Tristan und Isolde at the Opéra Bastille, Elektra, Die Zauberflöte and Parsifal at the Wiener Staatsoper, Fidelio, Elektra, Die Zauberflöte, Macbeth and Tristan und Isolde at the Staatsoper Berlin, a new production of T.H.A.M.O.S. in Salzburg and Parsifal at the Bavarian State Opera.

In recent seasons, Pape has also starred in the title role of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, and has increased his recital activities around the world. Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times praised Pape’s role debut as Boris at the Metropolitan Opera: “With his towering physique and unforced charisma, Mr. Pape looks regal and imposing. Yet with his vacant stare, the haggard intensity in his face, his stringy long hair and his hulking gait, he is already bent over with guilt and doubt. Mr. Pape has vocal charisma as well, and his dark, penetrating voice is ideal for the role. Not knowing Russian, I cannot vouch for the idiomatic quality of his singing. But his enunciation was crisp and natural. And in every language, Mr. Pape makes words matter.”

Of his Wigmore Hall recital in 2018, Peter Reed from Classical source stated “Pape has the gift of reeling you in with his focus and stillness, and gestures such as one warning finger (in the Mozart) or both arms expansively raised in just one of his Sibelius set were more or less it in terms of dramatic emphasis. It was all down to the authority and intensity of his singing that leaves you with the impression that his voice is inexhaustible, with colour, substance, imagination and nuance to spare from pitch-black to a quietness of exceptional delicacy.”

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