Through a brief encounter, two people change one another forever. The most beautiful woman in fourth century Alexandria, the courtesan Thaïs lives a life devoted to luxury and pleasure — until she is confronted by Athanaël, a monk obsessed with saving her soul.

Already beginning to fear death and the loss of her beauty, Thaïs repents, choosing spiritual love and everlasting life. But the zealous monk discovers too late that his feelings for her are sensual rather than spiritual.

The music of Thaïs is best known through the lovely Meditation, which is frequently heard as a concert piece for violin. But its poignancy resonates even more within the opera as it illuminates Thaïs' search for meaning, love, and everlasting life.

Massenet's music for this opera is as sensuous as the story he tells — lush, yearningly passionate, subtly flavoured with religious serenity and Eastern exoticism. Through his voluptuous music, his compelling characters, and the tragic inevitability of the story, Massenet compassionately but relentlessly lays bare the bond between religious and erotic passion.

The renowned director-designer team of Renaud Doucet and André Barbe, who collaborated on Lee Hoiby's The Tempest for POV, returned to POV to re-create the sumptuous production of Thaïs which they devised for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and l'Opéra de Montréal.

Thaïs has everything we've come to expect from grand opera: music to swoon to, yearning passion, romantic characters, and a spectacular, exotic setting. Thaïs is grand opera at its most intoxicating. It is both a lesser known work that will intrigue the experienced operagoer and a magnificent introduction for the newcomer to opera.

Creative Team and Cast

  • Timothy Vernon, Conductor
  • Renaud Doucet, Director
  • André Barbe, Set and Costume Designer
  • Guy Simard, Lighting Designer
  • Monica Whicher, Thaïs
  • Aaron St. Clair Nicholson, Athanaël
  • Chad Louwerse, Palémon
  • Luc Robert, Nicias
  • Rebecca Hass, Albine
  • Julie Daoust, Crobyle
  • Mireille Lebel, Myrtale
  • Charlene Santoni, La Charmeuse