Don Carlo / San Francisco Opera

“If you’ve seen a great Parsifal this lifetime, Rene Pape was probably the Gurnemanz, and if he’s ever given a slack performance, I haven’t heard about it. Still, the sharp, multifaceted character Tcherniakov draws out of him makes his earlier portrayals look like sketches for this canvas in Rembrandt oils. There’s singing that will bowl you over. Pape’s expressive range is complete, his timing incisive and alarmingly immediate. Tcherniakov cleverly turns the first act’s long Grail narrative into a slide show Gurnemaz conducts, complete with pointer, but an idea that could have gone terribly wrong is saved by using historical depictions of the Grail legend and early Parsifal productions, Pape a holy Scheherazade talking-story.”

 Tim Pfaff, The Bay Area Reporter

“Of course a mature singer like Rene Pape has a majestic grip on his role, no matter what, and his monologue of a sleepless night, pondering his loveless marriage and the limits of his power, brought the house down.”

– Renate Stendhal, Huffington Post

Verdi’s “Don Carlo,” in a serviceable production directed by Emilio Sagi and designed by Zack Brown, was all about the cast. The standout was René Pape’s riveting King Philip II, the embodiment of power until he crumbled in his late-night reflection that his wife doesn’t love him.”

– Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal

Equally compelling was Pape’s ability to contrast Philip’s autocratic authority in the first two acts of the opera with his solitary confrontation with the consequences of his actions in the fourth act.”

– Stephen Smoliar,

The great bass René Pape was a regally stirring Philip, showing poise ruling almighty Spain, but also fretting over his marriage to Elizabeth, knowing full well that her heart belongs to his son. Pape’s stentorian voice resonated throughout, especially in the Act 4 aria “Ella giammai m’amo,” in which he is as much a man with feelings as Europe’s most powerful monarch.”

– James Ambroff-Tahan, San Francisco Examiner

“The cast’s other powerhouse was René Pape as Philip. Singing with dark, magisterial tone, the German bass made the king a commanding, intriguingly complex character . . .”

– Georgia Rowe, The Mercury News

“Yet perhaps the afternoon’s most commanding contribution came from bass René Pape as King Philip II, Carlo’s father and rival in both love and war. With his gleaming, polished sound and impeccably focused phrasing, Pape created a character at once formidable and sympathetic; his long Act 4 soliloquy, accompanied by the San Francisco Opera Orchestra’s great principal cellist David Kadarauch, was a virtuoso display of fierce pathos.”

– Joshua Kosman, SFGate

“René Pape is completely believable as King Philip II, his rich tones sounded mature . . .”

– The Opera Tattler

Don Carlo” on June 21 also enjoyed international-level casting ... The unhappy regal pair took the highest honors ... René Pape’s bass showed considerable velvet sheen and elegant dynamic play; purely as singing and star presence, he impressed."

– David Shengold, GCNews