Thais is a story with immense irony encapsulated by devotion’s counter evolution between a vastly religious monk and that of a sinful courtesan. The faithful monk travels down an unadvised path towards worldly affairs due to inward obligation and unresolve as the immoral courtesan, Thais, given brief opportunity to find salvation through the monk, seeks purity of the soul after realizing the horror of her emptiness and destructive ways. A long trek back to the fateful convent in which she begins immediate purification proves to be the counter evolution’s apex as the exchange of emotion between two complete opposites provides the spark needed to lure them over a boundary that both believed they were incapable of crossing: love. In the end, her swift death in the convent within the arms of the love-stricken and aloof monk is perceived as pure and saintly, yet the fallen and chastised monk is left in a world of despair and loss begging for the mercy of God; thus communicating a perverse and paradoxical transition of faith.

Thais by Jules Massenet and librettist Louis Gallet is based on the novel of the same name by Anatole France. It’s called a ‘comedie lyrique’ with three acts and seven tableaux and premiered in Paris at the Opera Garnier on March 16th, 1894.

Why you should see it:

  1. A celibate monk and a slutty courtesan fall in love… I mean, seriously?
  2. A seductive full lyric soprano being tamed by the powers of a convincing baritone.
  3. Is ‘religious eroticism’ dramatic enough for you?
  4. Soul-searching should be on everyone’s to do list.
  5. It epitomizes T.S. Eliot’s civilized savage.
  6. Sneaking around, seduction, deception and uncontrollable desire, anyone?
  7. “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” is Dis-moi que Je Suis Belle – Snow White has nothing on the beauty of Thais!
  8. Renee Fleming rocks this role!
  9. An untimely eternal love duet for opera singers in the final scene!
  10. Who doesn’t think a paradox is cool?

Photo by Justin Namon/ra-haus fotografie


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