Cher Public

What the well-dressed Alexandrian will wear

“The courtesan’s entourage included dancing girls in filmy harem pants and bedazzled Afro wigs, and the hunky chorus boys pranced about in velour leggings, codpieces and nipple ornaments.” [New York Post]

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    This much better resolution Elektra with Rysanek is nice to have

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      another one:

    • armerjacquino

      It’s. A. Review. Of. Thais.

  • Nerva Nelli

    Elen Dosia is not just one of opera’s most celebrated sopranos, but perhaps its most convincing actress. A consummate artist, her one and only role when she stands in the spotlight is to breathe so much life into the opera’s main character that audiences lose themselves in her unforgettable performances. That is the passion of Elen Dosia.

  • stevey

    “the hunky chorus boys pranced about in velour leggings, codpieces and nipple ornaments.”

    Doesn’t everyone???

  • Will

    Thais, for me, is one of those operas like Samson et Dalila that’s in the “guilty pleasure category. They are not perhaps first rank operas but such great sings, such wonderful fun. And there is a lot of pleasure to be had in Second Empire and Belle Epoque decadence. Thanks for the delightful review.

    • MontyNostry

      At least both of them have some first-rank moments. Dalila’s three arias are gorgeous (even if the character is two-dimensional) and the final duet of Thais is spine-tinglingly thrilling!

    • Porgy Amor

      I wish more of S&D’s music were top-drawer Saint-Saëns (where I would put, for example, the C-minor piano concerto, the septet for piano/strings/trumpet, the first violin sonata). It only intermittently gets there, but I don’t think of it as a guilty pleasure. I like it more than most Massenet (including THAIS).

      It’s interesting to closely observe Verrett in her two videos, the San Francisco and the London. She’s generally a standard leering villainness in the first, while Moshinsky got her to suggest more under the surface — someone who has been corrupted at some point before we meet her, and now is driven by things we (and perhaps she) cannot entirely understand. Those two productions were separated only by a matter of months, and it points up that the direction and the actors can make more or less of the (any?) piece.

      I like the elaboration and refinement Moshinsky did later at the Met, but the Met DVD doesn’t really improve on the ROH one (other than in picture/sound). Borodina is less subtle than Verrett.

      • MontyNostry

        For me, the problem with Saint-Saëns is that his music lacks a really distinctive personality. If I hear something by him without knowing the piece already, or who the composer is, I always think he sounds vaguely like someone else (eg Mendelssohn in some of the chamber music). But he could certainly write a good tune (unlike Meyerbeer)!

        • Belfagor

          There’s a late Saint-Saens opera called ‘Helene’ -- a one-acter written for Nellie Melba that bombed at Monte-Carlo in 1904 and has just been recorded by Rosamund Illing and Steve Davidslim. It’s very dull. He apparently wanted to rescue Helen of Troy’s reputation from the naughtiness associated with Offenbach. So much so, that it sounds as if Helen and Paris have fluffy slippers and are off to make each other hot milk at bedtime.

          The difference between Saint-Saens and Massenet seems to me to be that: even when Massenet is on auto-pilot and writing the first thing that comes into his head, the dramatic focus is there -- Saint-Saens’ other operas, with the partial exception of Henry V111, have no voltage whatsoever and have some stunningly dull invention. I heard an old recording of ‘Phryne’ -- which had a vogue as a vehicle for Sybil Sanderson (the original Thais and Esclarmonde) with Denise Duval, and it is quite lovely in parts, but mostly bland and well-behaved -- and no dramatic through line.

          ‘Thais’ though is a gorgeously inventive score -- it is one of my favorite guilty pleasures and I may whizz up to NYC to see it, if i can get in.

      • Belfagor

        Two of my most treasured memories were seeing Shirl as Dalila at ROH -- with Vickers as Samson when the production was new -- 1981. In the initial run she had allergy problems and her voice was uneven and raspy -- though, the performance on DVD seems not to register this -- maybe it was later in the run. I went to the revival in 1983 when they were both in resplendent form, the duet was one of the most spellbinding experiences of starry music theatre I have ever witnessed. It’s an odd piece and frustrating that the great dramatic arc of Act 2 is mot replicated elsewhere -- Act 3 is problematic with its ballet and schematic structure.

    • derschatzgabber

      Will, Thais is in my guilty pleasure drawer as well. I am delighted to see an actual positive review of a production of Thais. An opera like Thais requires a special touch to showcase its charms. The last two MET productions appear to have lacked that special touch, based on the reviews of those productions.

      Did anyone in Parterre land see both the Met revival for Flemming and the Manhattan School of Music productions? I would be very interested in reading a discussion that compared the two.

      My only live experience with Thais was a bargain basement production in Seattle back in 1975 (I saw the B cast, the A cast featured a past her prime Anna Moffo). There was no high concept and no haut couterre costumes, but the opera still charmed me.

  • tannengrin

    That review -- and especially the snippet -- definitely deserves to be accompanied by photographic evidence.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    YIKES! Huge cancellation for La Scala tonight:

    Cast change on 7 December -- Annett Dasch from Bayreuth to La Scala

    “Due to a persistent flu, Mrs. Anja Harteros is forced to postpone her debut in Lohengrin, which opens our 2012/2013 Season. With Mrs. Ann Petersen also having contracted a similar indisposition, the part of Elsa will be sung by Mrs. Annette Dasch, who has sung the role since 2010 at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth.
    The Teatro alla Scala wishes to thank Mrs. Dasch, who arrived last night in Milan, and with her generosity has given a sign of her affection to the Theatre and friendship to La Scala.”

    • Does Harteros actually appear anywhere anymore?

  • Clita del Toro

    Alert: I just read on opera-l that Anette Dasch (yuch) will replace Harteros as Elsa in today’s broadcast of Lohengrin from La Scala, which begins in 20 minutes.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Director Guth must be going nuts! All those weeks of in depth rehearsals with details impossible to impart to someone walking in to the performance with only hours (now minutes) left before the curtain. Obviously this is one of those the show must go on moments and it wil, but the telecast and broadcast make this even more difficult for everyone there. In bocca al lupo!

    • Clita del Toro

      I especially wanted to hear Harteros today (as well as Kaufmann). It’s a shame she will not sing.

      • Clita del Toro

        I started listening to Lohengrin, but the sound level was so low that I decided to listen later on French or Belgian radio, which have better sound--but who knows when that will start??

        • brooklynpunk


          Check “Operacast”--there are multiple delayed starting times on quite a few other European stations--and the videocast will not start until a number of hours later—

          I have found that the Latvian stream is one of the best I have connected to, in some time!

          • Clita del Toro

            Grazie, BKLYN--hope you are feeling okay.

          • brooklynpunk

            Thank you, only hurts when I try to swallow( which could really crimp my style—lol)--turn my neck--try to sleep..and--breathe--


            the friggin percocets are not doing a damn thing--least of all, even giving me a BUZZ.. : (

            ..other than that, Mrs Lincoln…….!

          • brooklynpunk

            BTW…is it just MY ears..or is just about EVERYONE , other than the Chorus and Orchestra a TAD bit --FLAT , in this performance, today?

        • phoenix

          clita, get the DVD from Bayerische Staatsoper recorded a few years back live with Kaufmann -- I don’t know if its on utube or not, but it has Harteros in good form

          • Clita del Toro

            Oh, thanks Phoenix--good idea.

  • oedipe

    I am NOT attempting to be the umpteenth person to alert Parterre about Dasch replacing Harteros at La Scala tonight. I just wanted to mention “le mot du jour” posted by a French blogger a short while ago: “Dasch sings whiter!” (Which is of course a takeoff on the famous detergent ad “Persil lave plus blanc!”)

    • armerjacquino

      ‘Persil washes whiter’ was also the message of the first ad ever shown on UK television. An early piece of globalisation!

      I’ve only heard Dasch sing Mozart (badly). Is she any better in Wagner?

      • Buster

        Annette Dasch is a stunning Brünnhilde:

  • spiderman

    bloody hell -- why is this arte-stream only available in france and germany???

    • A. Poggia Turra

      Country restrictions are an unfortunate fact of life -- this is why a good proxy service is worth its minimal cost.

      I’m watching the stream -- Pape is wearing what looks like a Civil War era Union Army uniform :)

      • spiderman

        do i look like i know what a proxy-server is?

        • A. Poggia Turra

          NO, you look like the cute young Jonas-double with the swan feathers (I assume this is Gottfried)

          Simple description: a proxy service lets you push your internet traffic through a machine (server) located in France or Germany. When you go to the Arte stream site, it sees you as coming from France or Germany,and it lets you in.

          GO to to see the service I use.

          Disclaimer: I have no connection to Witopia except as a very satisfied customer.

          • louannd

            You need to have a STRONG internet connection to make this work right! (more than 12 mbps).

  • DonCarloFanatic

    Just post the whole thing on YouTube, somebody, during the weekend when the art police aren’t looking.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Lousy weather for opening night!

  • DonCarloFanatic

    Sorry, I was referring to the Lohengrin, but if anybody would like to post footage of this Thais, I’d be more than thrilled.

  • phoenix

    Did anyone hear the Thaïs bdcst today from São Carlos de Lisboa? I am listening to it now. I don’t know any of the singers, but I believe some of them have sung at Opera Holland Park, Grange Park Opera and Opera North -- terra incognita for me, but I am enjoying listening to these singers and this performance on my replay right now.