Chelsea Opera Group present a concert performance of Massenet’s Thaïs (1894), at the Cadogan Hall, Saturday 23rd June 2018, conducted by Stephen Higgins with Sally Silver in the title role.
One of Massenet’s most popular operas, Thaïs was first performed in 1894, two years after Werther. Set in Alexandria in the 4th century AD, it tells the story of Thaïs, a courtesan, and Athanaël, a monk who converts her to the Christian faith but cannot prevent himself from becoming enslaved by her beauty. While she ultimately achieves salvation, he falls prey to his growing lust for the woman.
The Meditation, the violin solo which depicts Thaïs’s awakening faith, is one of the most famous of operatic excerpts, but the whole score shows Massenet at his best. The arias for Thaïs are brilliant and seductive and the confrontations between Thaïs and Athanaël have music of great beauty and emotional power. Although Massenet composed Thaïs for the Paris Opéra, where spectacle was often the order of the day, he wisely concentrated on the inner lives of the two lead roles. The result is an opera as seductive as its heroine, a fascinating story of two people locked in an opposing yet parallel metamorphosis. 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.
Conductor Stephen Higgins makes his debut with Chelsea Opera Group and has worked extensively in major opera houses and festivals both in the UK and abroad.
We regret to announce that Sally Silver is indisposed and unable to sing the title role of Thaïs as previously announced, and we are pleased that Natasha Jouhl will now sing the role. She sang Oksana in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Christmas Eve with COG in December 2017. Natasha has a wealth of opera experience, and in recent years has established a close working relationship with Glyndebourne having performed many roles in recent seasons including the title role in Rusalka and First Wood Nymph, Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Musetta (La bohème) and Micaëla (Carmen). She is also experienced on the oratorio and concert platform.
Tenor Nico Darmanin sings Nicias, the lover of Thaïs, and returns after a well-reviewed debut with Chelsea Opera Group as Osiride in Mose in Egitto.
Baritone Michel De Souza sings Athanaël, the monk enslaved by Thaïs, and previously sang the High Priest in Samson et Dalila.
Tickets are now available from the Cadogan Hall click here
There is a pre-concert talk for ticket holders at 5.45pm by Simon Bainbridge.
Massenet’s Thaïs, a concert performance in French, with English surtitles.
Conductor – Stephen Higgins
Thaïs – Sally Silver
Athanaël – Michel de Souza
Nicias – Nico Darmanin –
Chelsea Opera Group Chorus and Orchestra.