“Singing his first Met performances in the role of the steadfast knight Gurnemanz, René Pape was a revelation. … His refined yet stentorian singing demonstrated that there need not be a dichotomy between crisp diction and legato phrasing.” – The New York Times
While René Pape is preparing to sing the title role of Boris Godunov for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera, the Mariinsky label releases its recording of Parsifal featuring the bass in a role for which he has garnered much critical praise: Gurnemanz. Taken from live performances in St. Petersburg conducted by Valery Gergiev in June 2009, the four-disc Super Audio set, available today (Sep 14) in the US, is the first commercial recording of a Wagner opera led by the Russian maestro (who also conducts the Boris production in October). Pape's fellow cast members on the recording include Violeta Urmana as Kundry and Gary Lehman as Parsifal.
A New Yorker review of Pape's performance in a 2003 Met production of Parsifal was a fount of praise: “The evening belonged to the young German bass René Pape, whose performance as Gurnemanz astounded everyone. Wagner wanted more than anything to hear his words etched in the air, and he would have leaped to his feet for Pape; every syllable shot out to every seat in the house. The magnitude of the voice was almost frightening – I’m not really sure how in the Good Friday Spell he managed to sing an extended high D at the end of a long, unbroken phrase, then swell his voice for the note that followed. He sang, as Domingo sings, with the conviction of a born actor. When Parsifal kills an innocent swan in Act I, Pape had us grieving for the dirty white prop onstage.”