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Opera Cheat Sheet

Opera Cheat Sheet: Thaïs

Our overview of Massenet’s ultra-romantic love story, Saturday’s noon opera broadcast.



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In this week’s Opera Cheat Sheet, Houston Public Media’s St.John Flynn and Eric Skelly provide a quick, laugh-filled intro to Jules Massenet’s Thaïs, a tale full of religious eroticism!

Set in the 4th century A.D. in North Africa, Thaïs tells the story of the monk Athanaël who attempts to convert to Christianity the Alexandrian courtesan Thaïs only to discover that he is in love with her. As she renounces her life of worldly pleasure and discovers a more satisfying spiritual love, Athanaël experiences precisely the opposite, renouncing his religious vows to give full expression of his desire for the woman he saved.

You can listen to LA Opera’s presentation of Thaïs, with Nino Machaidze in the title role and Plácido Domingo as Athanaël, Saturday at noon on Houston Public Media Classical 91.7.

[The excerpts heard in this OCS are from the EMI Classics recording featuring Lorin Maazel conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra and the John Alldis Choir with Beverly Sills singing Thaïs; Sherrill Milnes as Athanaël; and Nicolai Gedda as Nicias.]