“The evening was stolen … by René Pape, the powerful, playfully sardonic Méphistophélès. His basso ... rolled, roared, and crooned, as needed, with easy insinuation. Strutting through the evil charades with a different costume from a different period in each scene, he underplayed the menace, and doubled its impact. This devil got his due.” – Financial Times (2005)
German bass René Pape’s exclusive appearances in the United States this season are at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he reprises the part of Méphistophélès in Gounod’s perennial favorite, Faust. Pape sang the role for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005, winning unanimous favor with critics and audiences. At that time, the New York Observer’s Charles Michener wrote:
“Faust stands or falls on its Devil. René Pape, the towering German bass with the figure of a pole vaulter, the agility of a panther and a voice of thunder, isn’t merely magnetic, he’s all-enveloping. There was nothing insinuating or even sinister about his Méphistophélès – there was simply implacable power.”
Opera News described his portrayal as the “portrait of a protean villain as ubiquitous, tirelessly inventive and versatile as Evil itself”, and called his high notes “kaleidoscopic”. The New York Times wrote, “These are Mr. Pape’s first performances as Méphistophélès, and he already owns the role.” Chicago is only the second opera house in the United States to present this artistic phenomenon.