Sunday, March 24, 2013— 2:30pm
in french with english surtitles
Psychological. Erotic. Tragic.
This rarely performed French opera is an emotionally-packed tragedy. Massenet's late Romantic style conveys a sense of realism that is embedded in a sensual score.
The eastern influences woven into this story also have present day resonances. Thaïs tells the tale of an Egyptian courtesan in need of redemption. When an
ascetic monk attempts to convert her, he soon finds himself seduced by her beauty. His baser human desires lead to a struggle between good and evil.
Raisa Nakhmanovich, Music Director and Pianist
Robert Cooper, Chorus Director
Laura Whalen and James Westman
Athanaël, a Cenobite monk, returns from Alexandria to report to his brother Cenobites that Thaïs, whom he once knew as a good child, is now the Priestess of Venus and the leading courtesan in that sinful city.
He goes to Alexandria to save her and contrives to meet her at the house of Nicias. Intrigued by the
strange visitor, Thaïs puts on her most lascivious act and Athanaël flees in disgust.
Athanaël visits Thaïs and attempts to draw her away from the cult of Venus. Her conscience is
troubled. Nicias and his friends find her modestly dressed when they expect her to be decked for more
conviviality. They threaten Athanaël when they learn that she is destroying her house and her wealth at Athanaël 's bidding, but Nicias, having respect for Thaïs decision, holds them back.
Athanaël leads Thaïs to a desert convent where she is to offer her repentance. He has imposed on her
such penance that her strength is failing. Athanaël returns to the Cenobites, but is troubled by impure
thoughts and visions of Thaïs as she first appeared to him; he then hears voices that tell him she is dying.
He hurries to her side, drawn by her beauty and confessing his passion for her while she dies, full of
dreams of divine happiniess.