The 42-year-old was born and raised in Dresden, where he began his singing career as a treble in the famous Dresdner Kreuzchor. He made his debut at the Berlin Staatsoper in 1988 while still a student, his Salzburg Easter Festival debut in 1990 and his Salzburg summer debut in 1991 as Sarastro under Georg Solti. By 1995 he had made his debuts at the Vienna State Opera, the Bayreuth Festival and the Metropolitan Opera; now, more than a decade on, he has appeared with just about every major opera company and symphony orchestra in Europe and North America. His most celebrated roles include Sarastro (The Magic Flute), King Henry (Lohengrin), King Philip (Don Carlo), King Marke (Tristan und Isolde), Boris Godunov, Don Giovanni and Leporello, Rocco (Fidelio), Gurnemanz (Parsifal) and Mephistopheles (Gounod's Faust).
Pape's first recording under the new agreement, a selection of opera arias with Daniel Harding conducting the Dresden Staatskapelle, is scheduled for release in early 2007. He has already appeared on three DG titles: the best-selling June 2006 release of Mozart's Die Zauberfl‹te conducted by Claudio Abbado, a compilation titled The Mozart Album released this month, and a 2004 recording of a song cycle by Torsten Rasch called Mein Herz brennt, based on the music of the metal band Rammstein. In addition, Pape is featured on four DG DVDs, all of Metropolitan Opera productions conducted by James Levine: Fiedlio, Tristan und Isolde, Samson et Dalila and Die Meistersinger von N‹rnberg.