GP at the Met: Thais

Renée Fleming is Egyptian courtesan Thaïs in Jules Massenet’s perfumed tale of lust and salvation Saturday, March 28 at noon on Great Performances at the Met on PBS HD (check local listings). Joining the soprano is brilliant baritone Thomas Hampson as the tortured monk Athanaël, who falls from grace in his attempt to lead the Godless voluptuary to redemption. Presented by THIRTEEN in 5.1 surround sound, the telecast is conducted by Jesús López-Cobos and features tenor Michael Schade as Thaïs’ lover, Nicias.

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“Renée Fleming owns the title role,” wrote The New York Times when the new Met production of the 1894 work premiered last December, calling her performance “vocally sumptuous and unabashedly show-stealing.” Hampson, the paper added, is “in top form,” singing with “plaintive sound and sensitive lyricism.”

The production, which comes from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, is by John Cox, with new costumes for Renée Fleming by renowned designer Christian Lacroix. Duane Schuler is the lighting designer; Sara Jo Slate makes her Met debut as choreographer.

Great Performances at the Met: Thais, the fifth of 11 productions airing this season, is sung in French with English surtitles; Louis Gallet wrote the libretto. It was transmitted onstage as part of The Met: Live in HD December 20, 2008, and recorded for this telecast. Gary Halvorson directs, with Plácido Domingo as host and Jay Saks as audio producer.

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers.

For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.

  • clement

    Just wondering if PBS WNED will be broadcasting into Toronto area (Hamilton)when (which date, time, station) in Canada?

  • clement ng

    Just wondering if the PBS WNED will be broadcasting into the Toronto (Hamilton?) these Opera productions? If so, when- which date, times? These are fabulous!

  • Ken J

    After spending 20 minutes looking, I have to conclude that PBS is determined to keep schedule information on the Met series from the audience. It’s just not there. Did I miss Thais already? I can’t even find out if it has already aired in Flint/Detroit/Toledo. I have to jump through INCREDIBLY ANNOYING hoops to check all 3 of the PBS stations available to me.

    It would be hard to see how PBS’s distribution of info about the Met series could be less useful. Last year, in contrast, there was a lovely schedule page outlining the whole series with approximate air dates.

  • Lory

    I have to agree, this season of GP at the Met has been underadvertised and undersubscribed. How is it that no station in the DC/MD/VA area will be showing the opera? This is incredibly annoying!! And like pulling teeth to find out when the performances will air. Especially after receiving my PBS spring guide and having the Thais performance being listed as airing this coming weekend, but none of the stations are airing it!

  • Thomas Liu

    Would like to see Thais opera by Massenet broadcasting into Kera ( Dallas Ch.13) sometime in the future say next month or so.

  • Hood Roberts

    I saw Thais as part of the HD Broadcast Series. It was wonderful. Some of the most achingly beautiful and poignant music ever written. I am planning on taping it on my DVR and having some friends over to watch it. However, like everyone above I can’t find any National schedule. My local PBS station only lets you search for programs 3 weeks in advance. I did a search for my Mother who lives in Gainesville, FL (WUFT) and they don’t even have a search capability. It’s like we were still back in the 50’s having to wait for the Sunday paper to tell us what was going to be shown that week. Frustrating! PBS needs to aggressively advertise these incredible productions and make it easy to figure out when they will be shown in the local markets.


    I would like GP and Met will be able to air Thais in the future in KERA Dallas and Fort Worth area. It would be wonderful.

  • melissa

    i agree with lory and anyone who has been having difficulties finding out when performances will air, and i find it even more anoying when you cant see them on line

  • Maria Wu

    I am sorry to have missed theatre & WNED broadcasts. I live in Toronto. Will there be future broadcast of Thais? Is there a way I can download the opera?

  • John

    KERA in Dallas is broadcasting now!

  • Bob

    Stunning performance, just perfect, a privilege to watch. But I wandered into Act 1 by accident as Thais wasn’t listed in my local program guide.

  • Almedia Lueg

    This was just outstanding aired in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area on April 12th. Please repeat it soon for those who missed the notification of date and time. It needs to be advertised far in advance since opera audience is small.

  • Fannie Wong

    Will there be a re-run in the Toronto area? I missed this. it does not show in our local listing. I checked weekly on the PBS web site. It did not show.

  • Rhonda

    I was very annoyed to find that both Faust and Thais were broadcast with no announcement and during Sunday morning church services in the Milwaukee area! Will there be a rebroadcast???

  • shiella Fodchuk

    Please play all of the classical music–operas, symphony, recitals– that you can; it heals the soul and the world.

    Shiella Fodchuk

  • Judith Johnston

    Totally agree about the viewer-unfriendly PBS/GP at the Met non-listings. It is impossible to plan ahead, or even to know, what’s on. Guess we missed Thais and are just out of luck.
    Do they not want people to watch?

  • Kenneth Kerr

    Why is it almost impossible to find out when GP will be presenting operas from the Met???? What is next and when and where is the schedule?? Very user- unfriendly format. Thanks.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t know how it happened but a inadvertenly recorded Lucia di Lammermoor last night on PBS Ch27 in the Vancouver area. I was so excited that I had recorded it and will now be able to watch it but was sad to know there have been other broadcasts that I missed. I have just read some of the comments on not being able to find out when these Met Broadcasts are airing. Where can we find a schedule so we can know ahead of time when these brodcasts will be on. Thank you for airing them, they are wonderful

  • Patricia Erlanger

    I saw this remarkable Opera in NY in December and was distressed to see that you broadcast it and I did not know about it even though I am an avid PBS watcher. Please keep broadcasting the MET and let us know about it.

  • karin pendle

    I agree with the many comments on the inaccessiblility of program info on the Met operas.Why does it have to be such a big secret? I found out about Lucia and the gala quite by accident, but it took a little research to learn the names of cast members (other than Fleming) in the gala. Don’t you want people to watch these shows?? Will any of this season’s post-Lucia operas be shown anywhere at all? If so, when?

  • Mary Dye

    I enjoyed the performance very much but I am sorry
    there is no mention here of the musician who did the violin solo. He was magnificant and moved me
    to tears.

  • Jean-François

    This was the first great performance that aired on my channel….

  • Stuart M

    Appears that GP is on often in So Florida’s PBS stations. Yet,unannounced, Thais was on today, and a fabuous treat it was too. Fleming and Hampson et al, were as expected which was sooo wonderful that it is hard too supress tears throughout. The absolutely gorgeous violin solos (meditations)etc. were perfect. The Met crowd had their mouths agape as Thais sees several celestial bodies comming at her from heaven. She then sees God and dies. WOW! For those interested, todays Thomas Hampson Renee Flemming version of Thais can be easily listened to. In fact as I write I’m listening from my computer right now. Just seek and you will easily find. Ain’t it worth it? This Opera is not for the faint of heart as is usual in the genre. However, Thais will rip all the tears from your heart, as Jules Massenet turns it on for we Opera lovers. I absolutely love what PBS is broadcasting now. Still, I must agree with the postings that complain of no announcement on their PBS station of GP. Both classical and especially Opera MUST be announced as often as possible, as these art forms need all the support they can get from the general public as most of us know. Just give these wonderful works a chance to have everyone possible listen and view. Then we will see the support for Companies around the country and world have the big money flowing in which they so desperately need.

  • Stuart M

    Just a note for poster Mary Dye. The violin soloist is the very famous Yves Abel. For anyone that would like to hear more from this most accomplished Violinist, he has recorded a great plethora of work. Most of his work was done with French orchestras as would make sense given we are talking about a French masterpiece in Thais. However their is a virtual ton of fabulous. most beautiful work there for all to listen to from this first violinist/world renowned soloist. Hope that helps.

  • Stuart M

    CORRECTION: Renaud Capucon is the violin soloist for the 1994 recording of Thais.
    Yves Abel is the conductor.

  • Mark Cleghorn

    Last Sunday I caught the last 2 acts of Thais on GP from tne Met…..I wish I could have experienced ALL of it – will it be repeated, OR can I purchase it through PBS? It was Fantastic!!!!..Mark C – Cincinnati

  • Rocky Bayer

    Can I get a DVD?

  • Don-n-ABQ

    TO: Mary Dye (to correct Stuart M; and to all):

    Violin solo – David Chan

    Violinist David Chan is the Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and an active soloist, recitalist and chamber musician.

  • Don-n-ABQ

    TO: Stuart M:

    Jesús López-Cobos is the conductor.

    Did you not watch the same program as we are talking about? This page is about the 2008-2009 season performance, not 1994.

  • Bob Starr

    My wife and I watched Thais last night. An obscure opera to us became a very pleasant suprise. Very beautiful music and so well done. However, I agree that these programs receive little,if any, promotion by PBS stations. Earlier I missed Lucia because it was not even mentioned in the WPT Member Magazine. Please PBS people, pay a little attention to what your Art’s viewers are saying and give GP some spcial mention and support.

  • Tom Silverwood

    I have been following GP at the Met this year, but I am surprised that “Thais” has not been broadcast in the Washington, DC, Harrisburg, PA, Maryland nor Virginia area. Was there something wrong with the performance? Thais is a terrific opera, and Fleming and Hampson usually do an outstanding job. So I am both puzzled and dissatisfied.

    Tom Silverwood

  • Terry Maher

    A beautiful performance. But I missed the first few minutes, and at the end the “crawl” seemed to FLY! I could barely catch any of the credits. Who was the violinist? Who sang Palemon and Albine? Not even listed on this websiste – a real disservice to the wonderful cast and musicians.

  • Dan Calleja

    My local PBS station did not carry this broadcast. Would somebody who recorded it be willing to make me a copy? I have almost every MET telecast on DVD (recorded from TV of course) and I am open to trading videos. Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks!

  • Rick Y

    Dan, I have Thais. How can I contact you?

  • jade

    i have been trying to find a dvd of Thais with Renee and it seems like unavailable. Anyone out there kind enough to copy one??

  • Anthony M Davis

    Rick Y, I too have been searching everywhere for a copy of Thais on tape and would like to get a copy. for a contact number…Thanks…Super I’m really excited now.

  • flamant

    This Thais will go on DVD January 12th !!!

  • fosca

    Omg, I have been waiting for this to come out on DVD for over a year! How do you know?

  • ron zink

    RonZ Says – Amazon says Jan 26th release date.

  • Richard Heinzkill


    03/23/2009 :: 09:21:04 AM
    Ken J Says:

    After spending 20 minutes looking, I have to conclude that PBS is determined to keep schedule information on the Met series from the audience. It’s just not there. Did I miss Thais already? I can’t even find out if it has already aired in Flint/Detroit/Toledo. I have to jump through INCREDIBLY ANNOYING hoops to check all 3 of the PBS stations available to me.

    It would be hard to see how PBS’s distribution of info about the Met series could be less useful. Last year, in contrast, there was a lovely schedule page outlining the whole series with approximate air dates.

  • Margaret Sanderson Anteblian

    It is ashame so many missed seeing the MET performance of Thais. Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson were wonderful, and the violinist’s performance of the “Meditation’ was outstanding, moved me to tears. Fortunately there is a DVD of this performance for those who missed it or want to see it again. I did not see Thais on the Opera marathon–was it included? Will it be on PBS again so I can notify friends. Massenet wrote the title role for my great aunt, Sibyl Sanderson, who was appreciated by Massenet, Saint-Saens and others for her sensitive interpretations of their music.

  • CDS

    I recall seeing it at the MET about 40 years ago while I was in school.

    Memorable to say the least

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