Opera Star Lashes Out Against Met Opera for Celebrating Pride, Apologizes

Wednesday July 6, 2022

René Pape in "Boris Godunov" at New York's Metropolitan Opera
René Pape in "Boris Godunov" at New York's Metropolitan Opera  (Source:PBS)

World-renowned opera star René Pape isn't wild about Pride. He all but said so in a post to the Metropolitan Opera website last week. It was subsequently removed, but was captured on social media, according to Opera Wire.

The Met had celebrated Pride on Sunday, June 26 with performances by Stephanie Blythe, Lucia Lucas, Anthony Roth Costanzo, and David Portillo as well as many members of the company.

"Wow! For me a reason to not come back!" Pape wrote on the Met's Facebook page. "Dear Met thanks for the last 35 years! What I see now...Terrible! People who don't know who they are are using these fantastic institution to explain to them who they should be! And if the explanation doesn't fit the world is bad! Thanks New York for a great time in a great world! Now you are just a rest what you have been! I feel sorry for this wonderful city! Ok, see you somewhere someone..."

"Pape last performed at the Met in a production of 'Boris Godunov' and is currently performing a production of 'Turandot' at the Berlin State Opera," Opera Wire said.

Early on Wednesday, July 6, Pape issued an apology that can be read in full at this link, the website Slipped Disc reported. "I was attempting to make a statement about what I feel are sometimes performative actions by opera houses, but instead I wrote poorly written comments that seemed filled with hate for a community which has loved and supported me for years, and which I have love and respect for in return," he wrote in part.

He also confessed that he has drinking issues that likely contributed to his outburst. "I am an alcoholic, and have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. I have fought on and off with a demon that brings out the worst in me. There is no excuse for any behaviour that comes from this. I have no lasting victory over this demon, only a series of won and lost battles."

"I will spend the summer focusing on my health, not only for myself but so I can be better for everyone else going forward. My most sincere apologies to the LGBTQIA+ community and all of you," Pape said.

The Berlin State Opera, where the bass is currently performing in "Turandot," issued a statement condemning his comments in a subsequent report, Opera Wire said.

"The comments René Pape posted on social media regarding the Metropolitan Opera's participation in the Pride Parade in New York have caused great irritation in the house and among the management. René Pape is a long-standing and valued member of the ensemble of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, who can currently be seen on our stage, and management sought out a personal discussion with him about these intolerable comments directly. It is clear that homophobia and discrimination of any kind have absolutely no place in our house and will not be accepted. During the conversation, René Pape announced that he will publish a statement and we would like to give him the opportunity to do so."

OperaWire has also been in contact with Pape's team, who noted that they would get back to their request for comment. The site also said it reached out to the Metropolitan Opera for comment.