Gods, Kings & Demons
So, the DG recital disc by René Pape is out there, and, as one would expect, there's a teaser. Pape sings Wotan's monologue from scene 4 of Rheingold, beginning "Abendlich strahlt der Sonne Auge." Naturally.
Mostly Opera has this to say,
I'll go one better: if Pape continues along his current course, it won't be an issue of post-Hotter, it will be an issue of post-Schorr. I'm not entirely sure it won't be "Schorr and Pape" as opposed to "Schorr, then Pape." The man is a phenomenon, in that he seems to have been born to sing Wagner's bass (or bass-baritone) roles. For the last few decades, we've had to make do with a lot of very good singers working with Wagner (Windgassen comes immediately to mind as an example of a singer whose intelligence made up for his deficiencies), but not innately suited to his music. Pape is, and he's young enough still that we might be so lucky as to get a Ring out of him and on records.However, though represented only by the rather short “[Abendlich] strahlt der Sonne Auge“ (a Wotan/Hans Sachs CD with Christian Thielemann is upcoming) it is plainly obvious that René Pape is the Wotan everyone has been waiting for as long back as memory goes. It has been speculated he will be the best Wotan since Hans Hotter. In fact he will most likely surpass Hans Hotter. The glorious nobleness of the voice, the legato-lines, the phrasing...
Marke's monologue from Tristan, act 2 sc. 3, of course, is equally splendid. Indeed, Pape's nobility makes the emotional impact of the content so damned powerful. Some time back, on one of the standard interweb classical-music message boards, there was a discussion of Marke's music and its perceived dryness (as I recall). Pape takes care of that by delivering an account of the monologue that makes Marke's pain, despite his regal character, easily understood. Now, anyone with a libretto can figure out that Marke isn't happy with the situation, and, indeed, feels pretty darned blue about it. That is simple enough, right? Well, on the off chance it isn't, Pape brings the point home. Talk about a good singer.
The other stuff is good, but Pape could sing Bob Dylan's Shot of Love from end to end and it would still sound good, notwithstanding inherent limitations in the material. I'm not familiar enough with it to make too many judgments. Wagner, though, I know reasonably well, and I know Pape hit a homerun with the Rheingold and Tristan selections.
If you're not in the United States, what are you waiting for with this? If you are, download it from DG, write the ten bucks off, and buy the CD when it comes out in a couple of months. Once you've digested it properly, you can start getting on pins and needles for a Wagner-devoted disc of Pape and Thielemann. That should be pretty great, since both will be in their element.