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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.

“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.