Massenet's Thaïs from LA Opera

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Massenet's 'Thais' stars Placido Domingo (right) Massenet's 'Thais' stars Placido Domingo (right) (Robert Millard/LA Opera)

Join us Saturday at 1 pm for the Los Angeles Opera's debut production of Massenet's Thaïs, recorded this past May at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The production, by director Patrick Fournillier and imported from Sweden's Gothenburg Opera, features Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze in the title role and Plácido Domingo in the baritone role of the tormented monk Athanael.

In this 1894 opera, Thaïs holds an entire city in her thrall as she embraces life’s most sensual delights. One man alone, Athanaël, weeps for her sins, but his pilgrimage to save the sinner’s soul becomes a tortured journey of erotic obsession. As seducer transforms into saint, the holy man falls victim to his own passions. The opera features plenty of sweeping, melodic music, including the Act II meditation with solo violin and harp.


Thaïs: Nino Machaidze
Athanaël: Plácido Domingo
Nicias: Paul Groves
Palemon: Valentin Anikin
Albine: Milena Kitic
Crobyle: Hae Ji Chang
Myrtale: Rebecca Nathanson
Servant: Kihun Yoon

Los Angeles Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Conductor: Patrick Fournillier
Chorus Master: Grant Gershon

Comments [12]

consuela sollazin from Massapequa

I found Ms.Concetta's comments amusing. Lighten up folks. Opera fans are supposed to have a sense of humor.

Aug. 17 2014 09:27 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Mr. St. Onge, I was having fun.. Don't be so sensitive.

Aug. 17 2014 07:25 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Apropos the scenes constituting the acts in this production, the Kalmus vocal score differs from the Heugel full score in that the Alexandria scene followed immediately after the opening Cenobite scene. In the full score, Act I ends with the Cenobite scene and Act II begins with the Alexandria scene. Maybe Maestro Fornillier and/or the stage director thought an intermission before the Alexandria scene wasn't warranted since the Cenobite scene is relatively short. A similar decision was made in what was presented as Act II; and obviously there was no ballet music in this production.

Aug. 17 2014 06:58 AM
Robert St.Onge from Cochiti Lake,NM

Today's conductor was the French Conductor Patrick Fournillier (who has conducted at the Met) not Maestro Conlon who, I'm sure, could conduct a fine 'Thais'. As Les from Miami wrote, "Genius is in the details." But I'm puzzled by his rearrangement of the scenes in the opera. They were all in the correct order and in the right acts. Concetta, when one has to explain that what one wrote was meant to be funny, then it really wasn't.

Aug. 16 2014 06:36 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

MASSENET deserves more representation in the popular rep scheduling. His music exudes the sensual. His women are treated wretchedly by their male lovers who seem infantile or dismissive in their interaction with the female.
The men kvetch too much. The performers in today's broadcast are good without being memorable. Sorry Domingo ! JAMES CONLON conducts with the soul of a poet. I have heard that he conducted RIENZI at the Wien Staatsoper. I am sure he gave it the "works." We must secure enlightened genius general managers for the opera companies or we will see a domino effect of disgruntled fans and frustrated performers so disgusted with the endless aimless decision-making that they will seek other "pastures." Composers like Gustav Mahler and singers like Beverly Sills have had success as general directors, but "the times they are a-changing" and more discipline and hutspah to gain accord with all the participants are now required.

Aug. 16 2014 04:38 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

Act II started with the third Tableau of Act I and some of Act III was included in Act II in this production. There was no ballet music played in this production. Today's Thai"s had great amplitude and ease with high C's and D's: the laughter in Act II as well as the optional high D's in her death scene. I'm somewhat taken aback by what to me is a slow vibrato as evidenced by many of today's internationally renowned singers (and orchestral flutists, too). Perhaps tight vibratos aren't taught or favored in this day and age. Along with the two principle singers, I liked the timbre and singing of Pale'mon and Albine. Croble and Myrtale sang on pitch in their comfortable writing in thirds. Nicias I expected to enjoy and did. The conductor was Patrick Fourestier (spelling?) and I have no criticisms or complaints about his conducting or the orchestra's playing at all. The concertmaster shown in his Meditation solo as did the chorus who humm the reprise of the melody as well as their loud reaction when Nicias tosses the gold. The more who come to like "Thai"s"(and Massenet's operas in general) the better, in my opinion. I'm always struck by what a master of orchestration Massenet is, too. In the music immediately following the "Meditation", the offstage instruments providing the exoticism are oboe, English horn, piano, arab drum, triangle, celeste and a pair of crotales. Genius is always in the details.

Aug. 16 2014 04:21 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Casta Diva and Pisher: I was just having a little fun. Beautiful opera. Your comments are valid. Hoping no one took offense.
Best wishes

Aug. 16 2014 03:07 PM
pisher from New York.

concetta, that's not the point of the story. The point is that we're all torn between the flesh and the spirit, and to fully experience one is to starve the other. Thais had her fill of the flesh, and wanted the spirit--soon, her lovers will tire of her, and she'll be alone. There's nothing anyone can do about that. The flesh withers and dies.

Athanael, having awoken her to the spirit, realized too late that he'd only experienced half of existence. There's no reason to pity Thais. What was left for her but old age and death? Athanael is the one to feel sorry for. She was his doom, but he was her salvation.

Aug. 16 2014 02:59 PM
CastaDiva from New York

Yes, but Fleming was in fabulous vocal form. The music was so right for her kind of voice. And she did get to wear those gorgeous Christian Lacroix gowns. Even the penitent's black dress she wore after she renounced the world was a stunner.

Aug. 16 2014 02:02 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

Typo: It's Conte di Luna, not de Luna.

Aug. 16 2014 10:27 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Harking back and looking forward: I'm sure those who have the 1947 recording of the "Death of Tha"is" with Dorothy Kirsten and Robert Merrill with Jean Morel conducting the RCA Orchestra wishes RCA had recorded the entire opera with them as the two principles. I'm eager to hear this production of this beautiful opera. I've never heard Machaidze sing a French opera before. Groves is a wonderful lyric tenor; and incomparable Domingo adds Athana"el to his baritone repertory of "Simone Boccanegra", "Germont", and "Count de Luna" as of this week in Salzburg's "Il Trovatore" production. As an aside, let's see if Conlon includes the ballet music complete and uncut.

Aug. 16 2014 09:57 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau

This opera is about a career change with tragic consequences. Thais runs the best little house in Alexandria. Then a Mad Monk comes along and convinces her to change her wicked but happy ways. Into the desert they go on the way to a convent where she will repent. Poor Thais, she is very ill. The Mad Monk leaves but realizes that "Hey, she offered me her charms and I refused." He goes back to the convent but Thais dies. He runs into the desert. He should have left the poor woman alone. Some beautiful music in this. Do not know if Thais will be doing a hootchie, kootchie dance like Rene Fleming did during a Met performance. Looked like Bollywood.

Aug. 16 2014 07:09 AM

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