René Pape says he won’t return to the Met after Pride week

René Pape says he won’t return to the Met after Pride week


norman lebrecht

July 04, 2022

The German bass has surprised many colleagues with a condemnation of Pride activities at the Metropolitan Opera.

The post that triggered his reaction read: People from all departments at The Metropolitan Opera came together to celebrate and march for #pride at the NYC Pride Parade on Sunday. Here are some videos provided by chorister #RemyMartin, who represented us well!

This was Pape’s response:


  • Klaus J. says:

    Bravo René!

  • Tiredofitall says:

    I can guarantee you that Mr. Pape (whose artistry I have admired for many years) will not be welcome back after this post. It speaks volumes for his politics. There are certain bridges that can’t be burned.

    On the other hand, from Operabase, it seems that he has no future dates with the Met, so perhaps he is just blowing smoke? After all, at 58, he is pushing the outer limits of his career.

    Such a waste of nearly three decades of good will with New Yorkers.

  • MacroV says:

    If he’s been in opera for 35+ years, he’s surely aware of the extent of its LGBTQ population (and fan base). It looks like here he’s responding directly here to a tweet from a MET chorus member, and is really a big middle finger to a group that has supported him through countless performances over the years.

    I think the proper response of the MET artists (if not the management) is Good Riddance.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Regardless of his display of, homophobia, you don’t s**t where you eat. Basic stuff.

      • Paul Brownsey says:

        Is it clear that homophobia is involved? Perhaps it’s some other element under the LGBTQIA+ initialism that he is unsympathetic to.

    • Hugo Preuß says:

      Indeed. If after decades in the business he really has not noticed that there are one or two gay people in classical music, he must be thick enough to retrain as a proverbial tenor. And worse…

      • Paul Brownsey says:

        Do we know that gay people are the object of his opposition? So many other and different sorts of people now take part in Pride marches besides gay people. That’s why it’s no longer known as “Gay Pride”.

    • William Boletta says:

      Oh, and by the way, the current Music Director of the Met is gay and has a husband!

  • Bulgakov says:

    What a load of nonsensical gobbledy-gook.

  • william osborne says:

    Let’s see which houses continue to collaborate with an outspoken homophobe. To say say nothing of the other implied gender phobias.

    I should hope not, but might his views be correlated in some direct or indirect way with his seven years as a member of the Dresdner Kreuzchor? Choirs that exclude girls–which includes excluding them from elite musical educations–are increasingly questioned, though Germany hangs onto to the “tradition,” even with some court rulings, while countries like the UK are phasing them out as unnecessarily anachronistic. It’s all part of a history so misogynistic that men chopped off their nuts so they could sing soprano parts in operas.

    The Kreuzchor has about 150 members between the ages of 9 and 19, all boys, who attend the elite Kreuzschule in Dresden. They are called “Kruzianer” and held in high esteem. Let’s just say that without girls it’s not an education that includes a lot of gender diversity and in a city noted for a strong far-right presence (the bastion of the AfD party.) Still, maybe Pape’s objections to gender diversity are all just a coincidence.

    As for the children’s choirs, there is hope. Germany has always lagged concerning questions of gender in classical music. In about 20 years it will finally catch up with the children’s choir issues in the same way orchestras like the Berlin Philharmonic realized in 1983 that it could admit women. And the Vienna Phil in 1997 (though the first woman aside from harpists wasn’t given membership until 2007.) All just a coincidence…….?

    • Peter says:

      Boys voices are not the same as girls. No problem with boys,girls or mixed choirs. English cathedrals are starting to have both of the first two but not mixed. It is to do with art not illiberal sexual politics. You obviously don’t have a very subtle ear.

    • andy lim says:

      Madeleine Carruzzo won her audition in 1982.

      • William Osborne says:

        Madeleine won her audition on 23 June 1982, but didn’t become an official member of the orchestra until she passed her trial year. 1982 was the same year that clarinetist Sabine Meyer was driven from the orchestra. Meyer suffered extreme harassment, such as seating herself at rehearsals only to have the men slide their chairs away from her. The German musician’s union supported the orchestra, noting the all male ensemble had the “democratic right” to choose who it wanted. Karajan supported Meyer and the conflict ended his 40 year relationship with the orchestra. All just a coincidence?

    • Tamino says:

      One shouldn‘t comment about issues one obviously knows nothing about. No man ever became a soprano by chopping his testicles off. That had to be done pre-puberty.
      Boy’s voices are having a different sound than girls from about the age of 7-8 to the onset of puberty when they become male voices themselves. Girls hit their voice puberty change much earlier.
      Now if sound itself can justify to have boys choirs, I can’t ultimately say. I believe yes, it is worth it.

      Your conjecture about Pape’s stand having to do with his boy choir past is your usual far fetched idea. I read nothing from Pape’s statement, that he is homophobic. He is just pissed about wokeness taking precedence over artistry. That’s all I can see in it.

      • William Osborne says:

        If that’s all you see in his statement, you are blind, and probably a bigot.

        • Württemberg says:

          Why are you attacking Tamino? He is right about boys’ and girls’ voices (where you reveal a hole in your knowledge), as is Peter above, and right too to distinguish between homophobia and irritation over political agendas being forced on an entire company. And Karajan’s relationship in Berlin ended in April 1989, fwiw.

          • William Osborne says:

            Both the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics defended their all-male status with the explanation that women instrumentalists sound different. They were wise enough to never put that assertion to a blind test.

            York University did put the boys vs. mixed choirs to a blind test and proved that the difference cannot be heard. People defend boys choirs based on outdated and disproven beliefs in the same way bigots refuse to respect the gender identities of the LGBTQ community. It’s all part of the larger picture of gender bigotry that has historically plagued classical music. And as we all know, SD is a rallying point for classical music fans with reactionary views.

          • Tamino says:

            Crooked comparison. The physiological differences of boy and girl voices in the pre-puberty phase – while in early childhood they are similar – are a fact. How much those differences matter, is of course subjective, but they exist.

            Do you have link to the York study with a description of the methodology?

          • William Osborne says:

            A factual comparison that the supposed differences created by gender in these examples cannot be confirmed through blind evaluations. Your bluster is simply a way of avoiding the plain truth of a scientific study.

          • William Osborne says:

            The methodology is described in study, whose link I have already listed above.

        • Tamino says:

          And no, it’s not all I see in his statement. His statement is stupid, probably done under the influence, and he never was the brightest person.
          But your already “legendary” SD conjectures, evoking Hitler, Celi’s misoginy, East German Nazis and such like Pavlovian reflexes, based on nothing much but your own far fetched projections, are quite hilarious.

          My personal conjecture about Pape’s stupid rant is that he’s just enraged about the Met not wanting him in the future anymore and felt the need to vent. The Met always paid him royally, more than most European stages.

          • William Osborne says:

            I suggest you read the York University study linked above, and that you have the integrity to respond with your real name instead of answering with cowardly ad hominin attacks.

          • Bone says:

            You really are insufferable. The artist questioned the wokeness associated with the exuberant Pride displays – not sure that qualifies outright as homophobic. I don’t attend Pride events, but I have no problem working with homosexuals.

  • TishaDoll says:

    Do you suppose he was looking for a reason not to return to NYC. After all the Berlin Staatsoper is his home base and he can sing here as often as he wants at full fee. Endless opportunities for Sarastro which he often sings twice weekly and everything else in the company’s repertory. Jonas stays in Bavaria and Salzburg

  • Günther Kraus says:

    Was sollte man sagen…

    Mr. Pape has had a long and storied career and his interpretations of Boris, Sarastro and Gurnemanz are the things of legend.

    What a shame that the beauty of Mr. Pape’s character does not match that of his voice. How can one sing Sarastro hundreds of times without internalizing the message that tolerance instead of exclusion should be preached.

    I wonder if these posts were written when Mr. Pape was completely sober. I do not think I am talking out of term to say that it is well known in the opera industry that Mr. Pape is an alcoholic and has shown up too many performances inebriated, forcing management to question it if he would be able to complete the performance.

    I remember I performance scheduled for January 1 a few years ago at the Vienna State Opera where Mr. Pape canceled only a few hours before when he was too drunk to “Auftritt.”

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Knowing Rene personally, I didn’t want to bring up this topic, but, yes, it is entirely within the realm of possibility. However prompted, the homophobia was, sadly, already there.

      On reflexion, it is out of character for him, but people surprise me every day.

      • Paul Brownsey says:

        As I said above, do we know that homophobia is involved? Objections to Pride shouldn’t be equated with homophobia, since so many other sorts of people besides gay people are now included in Pride.

        • Simon Marcus says:

          And disapproval of French traditions should not be interpreted as Francophobia, since so many foreigners live there!

    • Bloom says:

      He seems to be in a sort of personal/identity crisis for quite a time. He has invented for himself a sort of Rubber Duck Doppelgänger which can be purchased online. Maybe PapeDuck has written the posts, not him.

    • music lover says:

      Yes,true….I played in a gala concert with him he was so pissed he couldn´t remember his lines.And at the post concert reception he was unbeliavably rude,boorish,mean and tactless towards orchestra members,colleagues,staff members,and fans,who really had welcomed him so much.

  • JB says:

    A hack of his facebook account ? Too much vodka ? A mega contract in Moscow ? Let’s wait for an official statement by Pape.

  • RW2013 says:

    und Tschuess!

  • zeno north says:

    I always liked his singing, but I won’t shed a tear if I don’t hear him again.

  • Peter says:

    This hurts me deeply. How it is possible that Mr. Pape can hold these views – when we have been told -so- -many- -times- that there is only one acceptable view on Pride?

    My safe space has been invaded. Please help me out by forcing Mr. Pape to express publicly that he will never again carry ANY opinions in opposition to the majority. Next time, it can be you who will see your safe space invaded.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      People are allowed to hold their own beliefs and to express them publicly if they so desire. On the flip side, they have to accept the social and political backlash. Just ask Anna.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it is Mr. Pape who feels his safe space has been invaded. He’s the one who has read an opinion a former employer has endorsed and is so addled by it that he doesn’t want to work with the employer anymore. He is the one who is peeved. Commenters here are just agreeing he should stay away if his sensitivities are such that he can’t file to grips with the post.

    • nimitta says:

      Sarcasm aside, Peter, it sounds as if your safe space has indeed been invaded, right along with René Pape’s.

      Since no one here seems to be denying Herr Pape the right to publicly express his views, one wonders what has compelled you to defend them? Do you agree with him that gays “don’t know who they are”? In light of the discrimination, prohibition, violence, and suppression LGBTQs have faced and continue to face, do you too think their contemporary expressions of pride are “terrible”?

      And Peter, do you really think that those who find his comments disappointing, distasteful, ignorant, or homophobic should just shut up? Your comment suggests exactly that – an eloquent reminder why speaking out is important for everyone, not just René Pape.

    • BP says:

      Mr. Pape is the offended party whose safe space has been invaded by garish images of obscene and colorful people. Now he refuses to collaborate with an institution some of whose members participated in a Pride parade.

      • zeno north says:

        Who gets to decide they’re “obscene” and what’s wrong with being “colorful”???

      • fcg says:

        Dude, he was trolling on the Met Chorus Facebook page. On their post. How was his space “invaded?”

    • music lover says:

      There are two views on pride.One by people who have honor,character,moral standards,ethics….And the other by those who haven´t.Obviously you,and Mr Pape belong to the second category.

    • Lynne says:

      Homophobia is an “opinion”. It is hate.

      • TishaDoll says:

        Homophobia is hate. Pure and simple.

        • Bone says:

          If you dislike gays because of overtly flagrant displays of public indecency, that isn’t necessarily hateful.
          If you dislike the extreme posturing done by wokesters kowtowing to every new gender descriptor, you are rational.

  • Bloom says:

    I think he is reacting to the intolerance of a statement like ”there is hope to globally solidify that #loveislove is love, and no one has the right to control, enforce, and say otherwise”. On the other hand, his view on homosexuality proves some deeply embedded, rather inept homophobia which he is entitled to as a private individual , but which , for humanistic reasons, he should refrain from venting in public.

    • PaulD says:

      If no one has the right to question whom another “loves”, does that mean that adult/child non-familial love is ok? Perhaps that’s what Pape and others take offense at.

      • Tony_B says:

        This is a tired “what if” argument. It’s understood by any except the most dull-witted that #loveislove refers to consenting adults, not kids, animals, or anything else.

  • Concerned Opera Buff says:

    I’m a bit puzzled here. Why would a busy opera singer have time to notice posts made by other people? It’s not as if it was addressed to him. Why does he care? And if it bothers him so much, why doesn’t he complain about Cologne’s Pride Parade?

    • Nicholas says:

      Busy opera singers have time to notice posts by other people because they’re regular folks, I guess. I hear that the internet and social media are omnipresent and easily accessible. Why do art institutions obsess over Pride Month? Will there now be the usual two minutes of hate directed at Mr. Pape because he holds a contrary view of Pride Month? It won’t matter if he apologizes now. The dye has been set. He will now have to be sent to a re-education camp, unthinkingly ascend and affirm the goals of the LGBTQ movement, and disclose which personal pronoun he uses to continue his career. Pity, I enjoyed very much Pape’s role as Gurnemanz in my first live Parsifal at the Met along with Jonas Kaufman despite the bleak stage production values.

      • Anonymous says:

        Of course, you know none of these things is true. Art institutions don’t “obsess” over Pride month, and nobody gets sent to anything remotely resembling a reeducation camp. If posting about Pride month reflects an obsession, then Pape is obsessed as well.

      • zeno north says:

        To whatever extent “art institutions obsess over Pride Month”, they do so because a huge number of artists (of all types including graphic, literary and music) are members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

  • James LaMendola says:

    Wow. I didn’t expect this.
    I don’t know what to say.
    Just, ‘wow’.

  • MuddyBoots says:

    Is it possible that Pape’s contract negotiations with the Met are not going well and this is a way to save face? Or maybe there are no negotiations going on at all…another reason to save face. The Russian trolls always ask, “why now?” and the correct answer is that Putin crossed a line. But since the Met/opera in general/ and Pride have always been supportive of each other and this is not exactly a new development… why now?

  • Herr Doktor says:

    Rene Pape’s alcoholism is an open secret in the opera world. His possible homophobia, however, is not. If this tweet is his final word on the subject, I’m going to conclude that he’s a very small human being notwithstanding his size and his outstanding artistry and career. But I’m not convinced that in the sober light of morning, Rene will have some different thoughts that we will hear. Time will tell.

    It’s been my experience that when someone expresses thoughts that are rather homophobic, there are often reasons for that which are internal to themselves. In my experience, those who are truly secure in who they are as people, of whatever sexual orientation, are not generally hostile to others’ sexual orientations unless they are ideologues of some persuasion (religious, political, etc.). I’ve had personal experiences in my own life of others’ homophobia, and it turned out that the source of that homophobia was either a religious fanatic, or someone dealing with deep issues they did not want to face. Hence, projection.

    Herr Pape, I’ve enjoyed your artistry over the years. But if this comment is something that genuinely reflects your soul, albeit a tortured alcoholic soul, you’re a very small human being who’s a fraction of what you are as an artist.

  • Maria says:

    Well done, Rene. Their loss not his. Too much politics instead of putting thelr energy into putting on first-class operas with first-class singers and musicians, abd getting an audience. Using people like Anna Netrebko who suddenly, and if only on here alone by the remarks, think she is the devil incarnate, either disliked openly for her voice or openly disliked for her Russian nationality., or both. Would you say the same if gay?
    No way! Then along comes Pride with their rainbow flags, and all hell is let lose. Disagree and you’re classed as a homophobe or some other kind of terminology – out comes the weapon of alcoholism and ridicule, be it true or false, and very, vert unkind. Alcoholism is an illness like cancer – it kills and you don’t ridicule cancer. But still good for Rene that he stands up for what he believes in, and leaves the politics behind, and to live his own version of life that he sees greater for him than just be another Met singer and a commodity that would always come to an end one day. Wish him well.

    • Herr Doktor says:

      Politics, “Maria”? The only people who make this political are right-wing kooks. SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS NOT A CHOICE. Period. It’s what you’re born with. Most of the developed world understands that now. It’s the right wingers who still believe it’s a choice, and thus a bad choice, and thus make it political, something to be punished.

      We don’t see laws being passed punishing people who are born with brown eyes, do we?

      The “problem” per se is coming from idiots from the right, of which apparently you are one. It’s a refusal to accept facts of life and reality, to the detriment of the rest of us.

      • Paul Brownsey says:

        Where does Maria say that sexual orientation is a choice? I can’t see that she says or implies this. To point that out is not to defend everything she says. I am not a Manichaean.

    • Sebastian Melmoth says:

      You seem like fun.

      And you also are a bigot. I wonder why celebrating one month out of the year upsets you so much? If you’re a bigot like Mr Pape, just keep your damned mouth closed until Pride month is over. Is that so hard? And would have been so supportive of Mr Pape had his comments been about black or brown or Asian singers? Because his comments are as hateful and shouldn’t be tolerated either.

  • Alan says:

    Homophiobia has no place anywhere. Get on with your job or go back where you came from.

  • John Parker says:

    Well good, he’s had a great career, time for him to sit down somewhere and take his rest.

  • Willem Philips says:

    His is a remarkably incoherent response, which is nonsensical. No matter how I read it, I don’t understand what he’s trying to say.

  • music lover says:

    Apart from the sheer idiocy of Mr.Pape´s word salad(made under influence?)…..he is just a guest in the house..A famous guest,yes.But he should behave as a guest of an institution which always welcomed him with open arms,and,believe me,payed him very well!!!He is no full time member of the ensemble.The gay pride event of the MET is none of his business…In addition,it didn´t even afflict his performances in any way.The MET should cancel his contract with immediate effect.His appearance on the MET stage is a slap in the face of those house members who took part in the pride event,and have to share the stage with him.

  • springbeg says:

    What I find worrying about many of the reactions to Mr Pape’s statement can best be summed up in a quote from Elias Canetti:
    “…All prejudices are caused by other prejudices, and the most frequent are those deriving from their opposites.”
    Hate begets hate.

  • mary says:

    In the immortal words of the Hot Priest in Phoebe Waller Bridge’s Fleabag:

    “Well, fuck you then.”

    I mean, seriously, what was THAT about?

    Is he suffering from long Covid brain fog or did he just crawl out of an underground bunker from the 1950s and saw a gay pride parade for the first time in his life?

    Or did Peter Gelb just inform him that morning that the Met was no longer going to engage him and he suffered a mental meltdown?

  • Helen says:

    If this is for real, then it is sad indeed. I have always enjoyed his singing and high quality performances, but this statement shocks me and has quite put me off him as a person. I shall look at him anew.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Wow, another great moment in human communications . . . . what did he just say?!?

  • John in Denver says:

    Herr Pape may have been singing at the Met for 30 years (not 35, as he says), but gay pride parades have been going on in New York for more than 50 years. Only a disordered individual would react this way to a simple Facebook post saying a bunch of people from the Met had gone to the pride parade. As for the sentence “People who don’t know who they are are using these fantastic institution to explain to them who they should be,” God only knows what this is supposed to mean, and possibly not even He.

  • Richard says:

    Imagine what kind of person takes “pride” in sexual practices and seeks to flaunt it. Bravo, Rene Pape!

    • Anonymous says:

      People “flaunt” it because for centuries governments and churches have been obsessed withand fixated on it. Once (if) that legacy does out, the need for such parades can be reassessed. In any event, people celebrate all sorts of silly aspects of themselves that confer no special merit (being Irish, being Italian, etc.). Do you get worked up about them, too ? Or is this the only such group you scorn.

      And there is no sexual practice that typifies gay people. There are gay virgins. And it’s hard to come up with a sexual practice that is exclusive to either gays or straights.

    • CRWang says:

      Do you know what pink stars and triangles are ignorant fool?

  • Artistic says:

    Greediest mofo the met negotiated with in my 20 years at the house. Fantastic voice, but not a cultured bone in his body. All just about the money. Good riddance.

    • MuddyBoots says:

      Do you recall the Covid concerts artists did in their homes? Pape’s was “Sleazy 1980s Playboy in Black”. It could have been a set for Boogie Nights. So I can believe “not a cultured bone in his body”. The guy should check himself into the Betty Ford Center; that is the only way he could revive his career after this debacle.

  • R.G. says:

    There’s a difference between homophobia and objecting to LGBTQ propaganda and corporate virtue signaling.
    Progessives are so shocked when people hold differing opinions to them but it turns out there are quite a lot of them. It’s the reason Disney has lost 50% of its share value and Buzz Lightyear has been banned in 14 countries. You won’t get a national Muslim or Christian values month any time soon from our inclusion and diversity brothers though.

  • Edoardo Saccenti says:

    Another proof that singers should only sing and refrain from speaking as much as possible.

  • Ernest says:

    He is entitled to his own personal views. But he is going to alienate a fair number of his colleagues and audience if he voices them publicly. I guess he no longer cares ….

  • Too blaisé to care…. says:

    Pape is a notorious drunk….he always has been. I have witnessed him piss himself in bars, grope women, and was so hammered he had to be put in taxi cabs by the MET employees whom he now derides. He was probably three sheets to the wind when he wrote this. After his poor showing as Boris, and sawdust throated Gurnemanz let him stay in Europe. Bye Felicia….

    • Brian says:

      That’s the first thing I thought too: This reads like the rantings of a drunk. Even so, it reveals his homophobia quite plainly.

      Did he not get the memo that the LGBT community is a large part of the opera audience?

  • Sanity says:

    The voice has been in tatters for many years. His absence from the Met roster is a step in the right direction, regardless of his repellent opinions…

  • La plus belle voix says:

    The deepest thoughts come, as ever, from Mr Osborn, who manages to mention gender phobia, misogyny, the AfD, harpists, Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler (inevitably), boys’ choirs and testicles, all in one breath as it were.

  • Lilas Pastia says:

    I’m reminded of Karl Ridderbusch, also a German bass with a marvellous voice, but whose public personality was sort of Ochs von Lerchenau-like, just like Pape. There also was rumors about Ridderbusch’ political sympathies.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Not just “rumors” – he was an open Hitler admirer with a swastika tattoo on his forearm and another one painted on the floor of his swimming pool.

  • MMcGrath says:

    Another perfect example of artists screwing up with unnecessary communication on social media they don’t understand and underestimate. Hubris and stupidity. His PR agency must be having fit.

    Reading his barely intelligible english text I’m not sure what happened to inspire this comment, what specifically he is referring to. I do NOT read it as a homophobic statement; rather he seems to be taking serious issue with specific events, tactics.

    Maybe we should hold off on the snap judgements, vitriol, smears of his East German origins, etc. Reading the comments below, many are just hysterical in their hubris and self-righteousness.

    I predict their will be clarification forthcoming. Patience.

    Meanwhile, let’s focus on music and his singing and not react like offended clairvoyant furies to what essentially was a misguided vent (about something we don’t yet understand and probably isn’t any of our business) to the wrong audience.

    • John says:

      You don’t take it as homophobic? What the hell? And the reactions are “self righteous”? MMcGrath, the comments ARE homophobic, so what can he possibly say to make it better? Those comments were no better than racist or sexist comments. A bigot is a bigot, no matter who it is.

  • Concerned Opera Buff says:

    Well, Gelb will have to find another bass to replace him. How about Danish bass Stephen Milling? Haven’t heard him in person, but he gets great reviews.

  • John S. says:

    Sorry to hear such ignorance from Herr Pape. Anyway, it’s good you won’t be coming back to NY. It means we won’t have to avoid your performances.

  • Marianna says:

    ….aaaand….. That’s how a great artist kissed his career good-bye! (Oh, and Rene: take the trash out on your way out)