Monday, January 15, 2018

Thaïs Is Jan. 20, 2018, Met Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcast


Summary: The Jan. 20, 2018, Met Opera Saturday matinee broadcast is Thaïs by French Romantic Era composer Jules Massenet.


Ailyn Pérez as Thaïs and Gerald Finley as Athanaël: Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera via Twitter Nov. 14, 2017

Thaïs, a three-act opera by French Romantic Era composer Jules Massenet (May 12, 1842-Aug. 13, 1912), is the Jan. 20, 2018, Metropolitan Opera Saturday matinee broadcast.
The French libretto for Massenet’s redemptive opera comes from French librettist Louis Gallet (Feb. 14, 1835-Oct. 16, 1898). The opera’s literary namesake is a fictionalized telling of the life of Saint Thaïs of ca. fourth century Alexandria, Egypt, by French writer Anatole France (April 16, 1844-Oct. 12, 1924). France first published his fictionalized tribute to the legendary former courtesan turned saint in three installments, as a conte philosophique (“philosophical story”), in the July and August 1889 issues of Revue des Deux Mondes, a French language monthly cultural affairs and literary journal established in 1829. Calmann-Lévy, a Paris, France-based publisher renowned for publishing important French authors of the second half of the 19th century, published Thaïs as a novel in 1890.
Massenet’s Thaïs premiered March 16, 1894, at Opéra Garnier in Paris, France. The Paris opera house’s inauguration was Jan. 5, 1875. The exemplar of Second Empire Beaux-Arts style is sited on the north side of Place de l’Opéra in Paris’s ninth arrondissement (9e arrondissement de Paris) on the Right Bank (rive droite de la Seine).
In his memoirs (1912), Jules Massenet mentions receiving a highly complimentary from Anatole France the day after the opera’s premiere.
“Cher Maître, Vous avez élevé au premier rang des héroïnes lyriques ma pauvre Thaïs. Vous êtes ma plus douce gloire. Je suis ravi.” (Mes Souvenirs, p. 202)
“Dear Master: You have lifted my poor Thaïs to the first rank of operatic heroines. You are my sweetest glory. I am delighted.” (My Recollections, translated by H. Villiers Barnett, p. 205)
Seven performances of Thaïs are scheduled for the 2017-2018 Met Opera season. Six performances are offered in November: Saturday, Nov. 11, at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time; Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 25, at 8 p.m.; Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 7:30 p.m. A seventh performance is given Saturday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m.
Estimated run time for Thaïs is 3 hours 16 minutes. Act I spans 49 minutes. An intermission of 31 minutes precedes Act II, which spans 43 minutes. An intermission of 29 minutes precedes the final act, Act III, which spans 44 minutes.
Emmanuel Villaume conducts all performances of Thaïs. His birthplace is Strasbourg, Grand Est, northeastern France. The French conductor debuted Sept. 22, 2004, at the Metropolitan Opera in Madama Butterfly by Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini (Dec. 22, 1858-Nov. 29, 1924). In the 2017-2018 Met Opera season, Emmanuel Villaume also conducts Sir David McVicar’s new production of Puccini’s Tosca.
Ailyn Pérez appears in the title role for all performances. Her birthplace is Chicago, Cook County, northeastern Illinois. The American operatic soprano debuted Feb. 6, 2015, at the Metropolitan Opera as Micaëla in Carmen by French Romantic Era composer Georges Bizet (Oct. 25, 1838-June 3, 1875). In the 2017-2018 Met Opera season, she also appears as Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro by Classical Era composer Wolfgang Mozart (Jan. 27, 1756-Dec. 5, 1791) and as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette by French composer Charles-François Gounod (June 17, 1818-Oct. 18, 1893).
Jean-François Borras appears as Nicias, Thaïs’s current, wealthy lover, in all performances. His birthplace is Grenoble, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, southeastern France. The French operatic tenor debuted March 3, 2014, at the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Massenet’s Werther. As cover, Borras was called in to substitute for an ill Jonas Kaufmann. In the 2017-2018 Met Opera season, he also appears as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème.
Gerald Finley appears in five performances as Athanaël, an ascetic monk whose intention to convert Thaïs from courtesan to nun thinly veils a non-spiritual fixation on her. His performance dates are Nov. 11, 15, 25 and 28, and also Dec. 2.
Gerald Finley’s birthplace is Montreal, Quebec, eastern Canada. The Canadian operatic baritone debuted Jan. 24, 1998, at the Metropolitan Opera as Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
He shares the role of Athanaël with Bradley Garvin, who performs Nov. 18 and 22. Bradley Garvin’s hometown is Chicago, Cook County, northeastern Illinois. The American bass-baritone debuted Sept. 30, 1993, at the Metropolitan Opera as the Second Prisoner in Fidelio, the solitary opera composed by German transitional Classical to Romantic composer and pianist Ludwig von Beethoven (bapt. Dec. 17, 1770-March 26, 1827). In the 2017-2018 Met Opera season, he appears as the Imperial Commissioner in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, as the Priest in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, as the King in Massenet’s Cendrillon and as Pâris in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.
David Pittsinger appears in all performances as Palémon, the monks’ leader who is unable to dissuade Athanaël from his non-spiritual fixation on Thaïs. He grew up in Clinton, Connecticut. The American bass-baritone debuted Nov. 20, 1997, at the Metropolitan Opera as Trulove in The Rake’s Progress by Russian-born composer, conductor and pianist Igor Stravinsky (June 17, 1882-April 6, 1971).
The 2017-2018 Met Opera season’s presentation of Thaïs revives staging debuted Dec. 8, 2008, by John Cox. The English opera director’s production team includes Duane Schuler, lighting designer; Sara Jo Slate, choreographer.
Met Opera’s staging observes the opera’s original time and place settings. The plot unfolds in the fourth century CE in the cosmopolitan Egyptian city of Alexandria and in the harsh, surrounding desert.
Thaïs is performed as the eighth of the 2017-2018 Met Opera season’s 23 Saturday matinee broadcasts. CavPag, the double feature of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci was the season’s seventh Saturday matinee broadcast. CavPag aired Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, at 12:30 p.m.
The season’s ninth Saturday matinee broadcast is Puccini’s Tosca. Tosca is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2018, at 1 p.m.
Online database Operabase places Jules Massenet at number 20 in a worldwide ranking of 1,281 composers for the five seasons from 2011/2012 to 2015/2016. Thaïs occupies place 204 in the worldwide list of 2,658 most popular operas.
The Metropolitan Opera’s Repertory Report provides statistics for the opera house’s operatic performances. Thaïs occupies place 75.
Above Thaïs, in place 74, is Mozart’s Idomeneo. Immediately below Thaïs, in place 76, is L’Africaine, the last work composed by German opera composer Giacomo Meyerbeer (Sept. 5, 1791-May 2, 1864).
Thaïs’s Metropolitan Opera debut took place Feb. 16, 1917. Prior to the 2017-2018 Met Opera season, Thaïs’s most recent Met Opera performances occurred with the 2008-2009 season’s new production by John Cox.
Thaïs appears as the first of two Massenet operas offered during the 2017-2018 Met Opera season. The second opera, Cendrillon, is the April 28, 2018, Met Opera Saturday matinee broadcast. The 2017-2018 Met Opera season’s presentation of Cendrillon represents the opera’s Metropolitan Opera premiere.
The takeaway for Thaïs as the Jan. 20, 2018, Metropolitan Opera Saturday matinee broadcast is that the 2017-2018 Met Opera season’s eighth Saturday matinee broadcast is a captivating musical portrait that contrasts Thaïs’s redemptive spirituality with Athanaël’s uncontrollable sensuality.

Thaïs (Ailyn Pérez) finds spiritual redemption whereas Athanaël (Gerald Finley) is mired in sensuality: Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera via Twitter Dec. 1, 2017

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
Before her spiritual transformation, courtesan Thaïs (Ailyn Pérez) interacts sensually with conflicted monk Athanaël (Gerald Finley): "The voices must be heard ... the experience must be felt." -- @Operawire Massenet's Thaïs is on stage tomorrow, 11/15.": Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera via Twitter Nov. 14, 2017, @ https://twitter.com/MetOpera/status/930502559718133766
Disentangling herself from a sensual lifestyle, Thaïs finds spiritual redemption whereas Athanaël is mired in sensuality: "Tomorrow, 12/2, marks the final performance of Thaïs this season starring @AilynPerez1. Did you follow Ailyn's journey in #BecomingThaïs?”: Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera via Twitter Dec. 1, 2017, @ https://twitter.com/MetOpera/status/936691758251077633

For further information:
Barnett, H. Villiers, trans. My Recollections by Jules Massenet (1848-1912). Boston, MA: Small, Maynard & Company, 1919.
Available via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/details/myrecollectionsb00barniala
"Composers: Composers Ranked by the Number of Performances of Their Operas Over the Five Seasons 2011/2012 to 2015/16." Operabase > Opera Statistics.
Available @ http://operabase.com/top.cgi?lang=en
“Debuts: Ailyn Pérez, Gábor Bretz.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 355797 Carmen {994} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/06/2015.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=355797
“Debuts: David Pittsinger, Peter J. Davison, Judy Levin, Jennifer Tipton.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 330180 The Rake’s Progress {9} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/20/1997.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=330180
“Debuts: Emmanuel Villaume, Felicia Velazquez.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 351017 Madama Butterfly {789} Metropolitan Opera House: 09/22/2004.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=351017
“Debuts: Gerald Finley, Edo de Waart.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 330372 Die Zauberflöte {317} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/24/1998.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=330372
“Debuts: Tony Stevenson, Bradley Garvin.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 314020 Fidelio {193} Metropolitan Opera House: 09/30/1993.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=314020
France, Anatole. Thaïs. Paris, France: Calmann-Lévy, 1890.
Available via HathiTrust @ https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.$b317725
France, Anatole. “Thaïs, Conte Philosophique: I. Le Lotus.” Revue des Deux Mondes, LIX Année, troisième période, tome quatre-vingt-quatorzième (15 Juillet 1889): 110-134. Paris, France: La Revue des Deux Mondes; Londres [London], UK: Bailliere Tindal et Cox, 1889.
France, Anatole. “Thaïs, Conte Philosophique: II. Le Papyrus.” Revue des Deux Mondes, LIX Année, troisième période, tome quatre-vingt-quatorzième (15 Juillet 1889): 319-371. Paris, France: La Revue des Deux Mondes; Londres [London], UK: Bailliere Tindal et Cox, 1889.
France, Anatole. “Thaïs, Conte Philosophique: III. L’Euphorbe.” Revue des Deux Mondes, LIX Année, troisième période, tome quatre-vingt-quatorzième (1 Août 1889): 606-637. Paris, France: La Revue des Deux Mondes; Londres [London], UK: Bailliere Tindal et Cox, 1889.
Marriner, Derdriu. “2017-2018 Met Opera Season Premiere of Thaïs Is Saturday, Nov. 11.” Earth and Space News. Monday, Oct. 30, 2017.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2017/10/2017-2018-met-opera-season-premiere-of_30.html
Marriner, Derdriu. “2017-2018 Met Season Stages Three Rare Operas and Premieres Cendrillion.” Earth and Space News. Monday, July 17, 2017.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2017/07/2017-2018-met-season-stages-three-rare.html
Marriner, Derdriu. “CavPag Is Jan. 13, 2018, Met Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcast.” Earth and Space News. Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. Available @
Massenet, Jules. Mes Souvenirs (1848-1912). Paris, France: Pierre Lafitte & Cie, 1912.
Available via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/details/messouvenirs184800mass
Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera. "Tomorrow, 12/2, marks the final performance of Thaïs this season starring @AilynPerez1. Did you follow Ailyn's journey in #BecomingThaïs?" Twitter. Dec. 1, 2017.
Available @ https://twitter.com/MetOpera/status/936691758251077633
Metropolitan Opera @MetOpera. "The voices must be heard ... the experience must be felt." —@Operawire Massenet's Thaïs is on stage tomorrow, 11/15." Twitter. Nov. 14, 2017.
Available @ https://twitter.com/MetOpera/status/930502559718133766
“New Production: Thaïs.” MetOpera Database > [Met Performance] CID: 352738 Thaïs {64} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/08/2008.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=BibSpeed/fullcit.w?xCID=352738
"Performances Statistics Through October 31, 2016.” MetOpera Database > The Metropolitan Opera Archives > Repertory Report.
Available @ http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/Database%20Opera%20Statistics.xml

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