Miami performances are at the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami.
Fort Lauderdale performances are at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale.
Children must be at least six years old to attend.
“Dis-moi que je suis belle”
About Thaïs, continued
About Thaïs, continued
Jules Massenet Libretto by Louis Gallet
“I have departed from this planet…I am living in the scintillating splendor of the stars.” ―Jules Massenet
Which proves to be the stronger urge, the desire for redemption and forgiveness for sins, or the lustful passions hidden deep inside? In ancient Egypt, a beautiful and seductive courtesan named Thaïs has captivated the city of Alexandria with her charm. At the same time, the monk Athanaël decides Thaïs needs to reform and turn to a life of religious devotion and piety. However, the monk becomes obsessed with the eroticism of this courtesan. Will the courtesan find religion and salvation, or will the monk give in to his lustful urges and compromise his own virtue for this fallen woman?
The opera includes the moving aria “Dis-moi que je suis belle” (Tell me that I am beautiful) and one of the most beautiful orchestral pieces in all classical music, the intermezzo for solo violin and orchestra in Act II, known as the Meditation.
Setting: Byzantine Egypt (Late fourth century A.D.)
The cenobite monk Athanaël returns to his religious brethren after traveling to Alexandria. He explains to his fellow monks and to Palémon, the leader of the congregation, how shocked he was to find the city immersed in salaciousness and sin. Athanaël blames this spiritual disorder on the courtesan Thaïs. Athanaël recalls meeting Thaïs, a priestess in the cult of Venus, years before taking his vows.
The community retires to rest. Athanaël has a dream in which he sees Thaïs naked. He decides that he must return to Alexandria to try to redeem the courtesan. In spite of Palémon's warnings not to meddle in other people's lives, the monk sets off through the desert to the city of sin.
In Alexandria, Athanaël visits Nicias, a friend from his youth who is infatuated with Thaïs and has squandered a fortune on her. The monk explains the mission that has brought him to the city once again. Nicias laughs, believing Athanaël will never succeed. Nonetheless, Nicias agrees to introduce him to Thaïs, who will be coming to his house for dinner that very evening. When she appears, the monk disapprovingly stares at her. Thaïs is somewhat disconcerted when she hears his sermon, but she invites him to visit her at her house.
In her bedroom, Thaïs looks at herself in the mirror, wondering what life will be like when her beauty fades. Athanaël arrives and tries to persuade her to follow his doctrine, which will bless her with eternal life and free her from sin and death. At first his words horrify Thaïs, but little by little she is overcome by an internal peace and she begins to feel happy. From outside the voice of Nicias is heard, calling to her. Athanaël says that he will wait outside for her at dawn. Throughout the night Thaïs meditates about the spirituality of her soul.
The next morning, Thaïs is ready to follow the path of holiness. Athanaël will lead her to a convent, but she must first destroy all of her worldly possessions by fire. When Athanaël tells the crowd in the plaza that Thaïs has consecrated herself to God and that she will be leaving with him, they jeer and are about to stone her and the monk. Nicias throws some gold coins on the ground to distract the crowd as Thaïs and Athanaël flee to safety.
Thaïs and Athanaël travel through the desert to a monastery run by Mother Albine. She is exhausted and barely has the strength to walk. The monk explains that this suffering is the penance that she must endure to rid herself of her sins. But when he sees that Thaïs's feet are bleeding, he feels sorry for her and goes in search of water. He kisses her feet and comforts her. She thanks him for his kindness and for saving her soul. Once in the monastery the nuns welcome Thaïs. She bids the monk farewell and kisses his hands with love and admiration. Athanaël, knowing he will not see her again, is profoundly distraught.
Athanaël once again returns to his brethren. Twenty days have passed and he is unable to stop thinking about Thaïs; he now realizes that he desires her with physical passion. He then has a dream in which he sees Thaïs dying in the monastery courtyard. When he awakens, he decides that he must see her again.
Albine welcomes Athanaël, who finds the weakened Thaïs surrounded by the devout nuns. Athanaël tells her of his feelings of physical love and desire. In a state of mystical ecstasy, she is oblivious to the monk's words and passes away peacefully, leaving Athanaël in despair.
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