How Low Can You Go: The Great Operatic Basses from Feodor Chaliapin to Rene Pape

Paul Offenkrantz
Music / Arts & Letters

Course Description

Following on the heels of our survey of operatic sopranos, tenors, and baritones...we reach "rock bottom" with the lowest category of vocal range: the bass. Basses and Bass-Baritones often get to portray the most interesting characters in opera, ranging from monarchs such as King Phillip in Verdi's Don Carlo and the title role of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov; to haunted other-worldly figures such as the Dutchman in Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander; to the devil himself in Gounod's Faust; Boito's Mefistofele; and Berlioz' La Damnation de Faust. This survey will include all the greats, including: Feodor Chaliapin; Alexander Kipnis; Ezio Pinza; Cesare Siepi; Boris Christoff; Jerome Hines; Nicolai Ghiaurov; Giorgio Tozzi; Martti Talvela; Samuel Ramey; Kurt Moll; Rene Pape and many others.


  1. Casting a Giant Shadow (Feodor Chaliapin and contemporaries)
  2. The Bass as Superstar (Ezio Pinza and contemporaries)
  3. Germans, Bulgarians and Americans (Boris Christoff and Contemporaries)
  4. The Modern Basso (Samuel Ramey and Contemporaries)

About the Instructor

  • Paul Offenkrantz, PhD, a graduate of Oberlin College, attended the Yale School of Music and earned a Master of Sacred Music from Hebrew Union College, where he was also ordained as a cantor. In his distinguished career, he has served communities in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and West Palm Beach. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Hebrew Union College and received rabbinic ordination from The Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute. He began singing professionally on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera at the age of nine and appeared in over 30 different operas at the MET over the course of five seasons. He has worked with Leonard Bernstein, Richard Tucker, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine and many other important artists. He concertizes and lectures extensively throughout South Florida and is also an adjunct professor of Music History at the Conservatory of Music at Lynn University.

Upcoming programs presented by Paul Offenkrantz.

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