In an interview given to PlaybillArts in May of 2006, German bass René Pape disclosed that he is preparing the role of Hans Sachs in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin in 2008. However, the current information on the Staatsoper website reveals that James Morris is scheduled to play Hans Sachs in this production, which is a revival of a staging by Harry Kupfer.
I venture to guess that Pape might need a little extra time between other engagements to learn the role of Sachs which is monumental in length. Who knows what the reason for the change was! One thing's for certain: once he masters it, however, the role is one that he will be able to sing until he retires.
Now my sources tell me, however, that René Pape will debut his Hans Sachs in a new and first ever staging in Glyndebourne in 2009. If this is true, then this is good news and worth waiting for.