On this Sunday, April 17, René Pape makes his role debut as Wotan in Wagner’s Die Walküre at the Berlin State Opera under Daniel Barenboim. Of the compelling, very human qualities Wotan possesses, Pape says: “There is something about Wotan’s plight, wanting control and love, that I think most of us recognize; we see how hard it is, perhaps impossible, to have both.” Welcoming the German bass’s combination of sensitivity and authority in the role, after his debut in Das Rheingold at La Scala last May, Germany’s Die Welt anticipated that his portrayal of Wotan would “change the perception of this Wagner character for decades to come.”
Pape’s important Walküre debut comes just two days after the European release of his most recent Deutsche Grammophon recording, Wagner. Also featuring Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle, the new disc is a dream release for fans of both Pape and the music of Richard Wagner; it includes excerpts from such signature roles as Gurnemanz and the Rheingold Wotan as well as a terrific teaser of a part that Pape has yet to reveal on stage: his eagerly anticipated Hans Sachs, the noble cobbler of Die Meistersinger. With music from Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, and Die Walküre, the recording also boasts a special guest appearance by Pape’s friend and esteemed colleague, tenor Plácido Domingo, who joins him in a scene from Parsifal.