The Metropolitan Opera HD Live: Season 3, Episode 5

Massenet: Thaïs (20 Dec. 2008)

TV Episode  -   -  Music
8.7
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 16 users  
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Missionary Athaniel converts the prostitute Thais to Christianity; he even leads her to enter a nunnery. The convent door slams shut: No Men Allowed. Oh no, cries Athaniel, I've fallen in love with her. Too bad, so sad. Meditate on that.

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Title: Massenet: Thaïs (20 Dec 2008)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Thaïs
Thomas Hampson ...
Athanaël
Michael Schade ...
Nicias
Daniel Clark Smith ...
Cenobite Monks
Roger Andrews ...
Cenobite Monks
Kurt Phinney ...
Cenobite Monks
Richard Pearson ...
Cenobite Monks
Craig Montgomery ...
Cenobite Monks
Alain Vernhes ...
Palémon
Trevor Scheunemann ...
Guard
Alyson Cambridge ...
Crobyle
Ginger Costa-Jackson ...
Myrtale
Leah Partridge ...
La Charmeuse
Maria Zifchak ...
Albine
...
Solo Dancer
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Storyline

Missionary Athaniel converts the prostitute Thais to Christianity; he even leads her to enter a nunnery. The convent door slams shut: No Men Allowed. Oh no, cries Athaniel, I've fallen in love with her. Too bad, so sad. Meditate on that.

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20 December 2008 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
A wonderful Met production, Fleming stuns and the final scene affects
25 January 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

To me, Massenet's masterpiece will always be Manon. However, Thais is memorable for its beautiful Meditation, and one of the most affecting final scenes of any opera. The story this said is engaging if not quite as plausible as Manon or Werther, and Massenet's music is always beautiful. I have always liked the Met productions, even with some not so good ones like their Tosca and Hansel and Gretel, and having always liked Renee Fleming I was all for seeing this production.

And it was wonderful, one of my personal favourites of the Metropolitan Opera:Live in HD broadcasts. The costumes look absolutely lovely, especially Fleming's dresses and she looks amazing in them and the sets are striking and effective in their simplicity. There is a lot in common with the Met broadcasts and it is that generally the High definition looks fantastic. It is no exception here. I had seen this production a little under a year ago, and loved it then. Then like Met's La Rondine I thought I would watch it again, and I loved it just as much and found even more impressive things about it.

Musically this Thais is superb. The orchestra are nearly always reliable, and they perform with real sensitivity and beauty here, David Chan in particular deserves credit for his truly gorgeous rendition of the famous Meditation. Jesus Lopez-Cobos really astounded me with how musical and nuanced his conducting was.The staging is mostly very good. For anyone not familiar with the final scene or not knowing what to expect, I advise you to bring a packet of tissues with them. This scene never fails to affect me on an emotional level, and boy does this production not disappoint. The Mirror scene is also interestingly staged and I liked how erotic the ballet sequences are.

The performances are of really high quality. Of the principals it is Renee Fleming who dominates. She is stunning in every sense of the word, sensual in look, creamy in vocal tone and colour and arresting in acting. She also manages the high Ds in the final scene with ease, they didn't sound shrill to me, like some sopranos can be above the stave, which was a good thing. Athanael may be a role too heavy for him, however Thomas Hampson(in dread-locks) does sing and act the part in a conscientious way, acting with intelligence and singing with great musicianship and a pleasing sound and exudes a great chemistry with Fleming.

Nicias is somewhat thankless as a role, however Michael Schade performs it very well, even if he is slightly stiff. Overall, a wonderful production. And for those wanting to hear more of Thais, I recommend the Beverly Sills-Sherrill Milnes recording, Sills is past prime but sings beautifully despite the role being perhaps too heavy for her lyric instrument, but Milnes is outstanding; I also heard a rare clip of them doing the final scene live and it is one of those occasions where that particular scene gets to me every time. 10/10 Bethany Cox


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