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Essentials

Comédie lyrique in three acts and seven scenes

Music by Jules Massenet (1842-1912)

Libretto by Louis Gallet, after the novel of the same name by Anatole France

Premiered at the Paris Opera on 16 March 1894
Premiered at the Teatro Real on 14 March 1916

Opera in concert version

Principal Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Real
(Coro Intermezzo / Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid)

Starting Point

Inspired by a story dating to the 10th century the opera by Jules Massenet can be seen as two journeys in opposite directions: that of the courtesan Thaïs, who abandons her life of sin to become the most consummate of nuns, and that of Athanaël, a monk who guides her along the way but, inevitably, becomes bewitched. The rigor of Athanaël’s moral commitment is irredeemably replaced by his feelings of lust which are perceived from the beginning of the opera. The allure of that which is prohibited is stronger than his vows, yet it is precisely in his efforts to convert Thais, that the woman he loves becomes beyond reach. In the path chosen by Thaïs there is no going back: she has given herself to God.

Massenet composed the role of Thaïs for the famous soprano Sybil Sanderson; she had premiered the part of Esclarmonde five years earlier. This mature, intriguing score combines virtuous and erotic motifs, they intertwine and in so doing, underline a story which is at once disturbing and hopeless. 

Production Team & Cast

  • Musical director: Patrick Fournillier
  • Chorus Master: Andrés Máspero
· - ·
  • Athanaël: Plácido Domingo
  • Nicias: Michele Angelini
  • Palemón: Jean Teitgen
  • Thaïs: Ermonela Jaho
  • Myrtale: Lidia Vinyes Curtis
  • Crobyle: Elena Copons

Performance Dates

  • 26 JUL (T) 20:00h
    Turn Première
  • Place: Main Auditorium