René Pape

“He has a voice of velvet and of thunder – one that can soothe like balm or cut like steel. He has the kind of presence that transforms the often-overshadowed characters of the bass repertory into towering figures of central importance to the drama. He has the charisma to seduce every heart on stage and out front when the occasion demands it . . . He has energy and intensity to burn . . . The Pape sound – rich, rolling, full and focused from top to bottom, seemingly limitless in range and power – would be more than enough to earn him a place in the bass pantheon.”
Opera News, New York, January 2007 (Awards issue)
Born in Dresden in 1964, René Pape was a member of the city’s legendary Kreuzchor from 1974–81. In 1988, while still a student, he made his debut at the Berlin State Opera “Unter den Linden” and was immediately engaged by the company. Since then on its stage he has sung most of the chief roles of his already illustrious career, the majority of them conducted by music director, Daniel Barenboim. Pape is equally at home on the concert platform and has appeared with the world’s leading orchestras and renowned conductors in the major concert halls all over the globe. For his recordings, he has already received two Grammy Awards.
1994 First appearances at the Salzburg Easter Festival as Don Fernando (Fidelio) and in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Invited by Solti to sing Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte at the Salzburg Festival; repeats the role in his La Scala debut also under Solti. Debut with the Met Opera as Don Fernando at the 1992 Seville EXPO and as Philip in Verdi’s Don Carlo in Basle. Sings in Haydn’s The Seasons with the Orchestre de Paris and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, both under Solti; first guest appear¬ances with the Vienna State Opera as Don Fernando, the Speaker and Sarastro. Bayreuth debut as Fasolt (Das Rheingold), returning each year in the role to 1997
1997 New York debut as the Night Watchman in Wagner’s Meistersinger at the Met; Hunding in Die Walküre at the Vienna State Opera; Rocco in Fidelio at the Salzburg Festival; Covent Garden debuts in Palestrina and Lohengrin. Fasolt and King (Aida) at the Met. Met tour to Japan with Verdi’s Requiem and as Brander in Faust
1998 Paris Opéra debut as King Marke (Tristan und Isolde); Verdi’s Philip (Don Carlo) at Salzburg; King Henry (Lohengrin) and Old Hebrew (Samson et Dalila, Saint-Saëns) at the Met
1999 Highly acclaimed interpretation of King Marke at the Met under Levine; Chicago Lyric Opera debut as Pogner in Die Meistersinger; Figaro at the Berlin State Opera
2000 Leporello in Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival; Rocco at the Met; King Marke in Tristan at the Berlin State Opera; Escamillo (Carmen) at the Met
2001 Debut at the San Francisco Opera as Pogner; appears in Japan with the Met (Verdi’s Requiem and Old Hebrew)
2002 Role debut as Don Giovanni at the Berlin State Opera; Frère Laurent in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at the Orange Festival; Rocco at Munich’s State Opera; Orest in Strauss’s Elektra at the Met. Named “Vocalist of the Year” by Musical America
2003 King Henry at Covent Garden; Glyndebourne Festival debut as King Marke; Escamillo at the Verona Arena; debut as Gurnemanz (Parsifal) at the Met. DVD release: Rocco in the Met Fidelio, conducted by Levine
2004 Leporello at the Met; Gurnemanz with the North German Radio (NDR) Symphony Orchestra; King Marke at the Lucerne International Festival (TV broadcast); Philip at the Florence Opera. Solo recording debut on Deutsche Grammophon: Mein Herz brennt, a song cycle composed by Torsten Rasch and based on the lyrics of the German industrial rock band Rammstein. On DVD: the Met productions of Tristan und Isolde (Record Academy Prize, Tokyo, 2005), Samson et Dalila, and Die Meistersinger, all conducted by Levine
2005 Rocco at the Chicago Lyric Opera. First sings Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust, conducted by Levine; Gurnemanz at St. Petersburg’s White Nights Festival, and the title role in Boris Godunov at the Berlin State Opera under Barenboim
2006 Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Boston Symphony under Levine. With the Met he sings King Henry, Gurnemanz, King Philip, Sarastro, on tour in Japan with Hunding and Leporello, and participates in a Gala Concert in honour of Joseph Volpe at the Met together with Plácido Domingo and Roberto Alagna. He performs the title role in Boris Godunov at the Berlin State Opera – for which he is named “Artist of the Year” by Germany’s opera critics –, and the leading role in Don Carlo at the Mariinsky Theatre and in Munich. Pape is greatly acclaimed for his Sarastro at the Salzburg Festival, where he also appears in concerts with Anna Netrebko, Magdalena Kožená and Elīna Garanča. He plays Sarastro and Speaker in Kenneth Branagh’s English-language film of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (English Chamber Orchestra under James Conlon; release 2007). Signs exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Recordings on DG: Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, conducted by Abbado (Gramophone Award, 2006) and The Mozart Album – a selection of arias sung by Deutsche Grammophon’s star singers
2007 Sarastro at the Met; Gurnemanz, Boris Godunov and Don Giovanni under Baren¬boim in Berlin; King Philip under Paolo Carignani also in Berlin; Wagner arias with the Munich Philharmonic and Christian Thielemann in Munich (recorded for Deut¬sche Grammophon and scheduled for release in 2008); King Marke at the Glynde¬bourne Festival under Jiří Bělohlávek, on tour in Japan under Barenboim, and in Munich under Kent Nagano. Appears at St. Petersburg’s White Nights Festival under Valery Gergiev with excerpts from Russian operas and as King Philip; in a Wagner Gala Concert together with Plácido Domingo at the Bavarian State Opera; and at a Gala Concert at the Los Angeles Opera with Domingo and James Conlon. Sings Frank Martin’s Jedermann Monologue with the Dresden Staatskapelle under Fabio Luisi at the Semperoper and in Vienna, and Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death with the Hamburg Philharmonic under Simone Young in Hamburg. He sings in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst in Cleveland (recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, release 2007) and in Miami, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiří Bělohlávek at the BBC Proms in London and with the Berlin State Opera at the end of the year under Barenboim: at the Verbier Festival he sings in Mozart’s Requiem. René Pape is honoured as “Singer of the Year 2006” by the Metropolitan Opera Guild in the Opera News Awards