Music by Jules Massenet
January 30, 2020 at 7:30PM
February 1, 2020 at 2:00PM
Sung in French, with English surtitles
Running time is about 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one intermission
|Thaïs:||Sarah Joy Miller|
|Nicias:||Joseph Michael Brent|
|La charmeuse:||Sarah Joyce Cooper|
|Albine:||Allegra De Vita|
|Set and Lighting Designer:||Harry Feiner|
|Costume Designer:||Sam Fleming|
|Chorus Master:||Steven Gathman|
Choreography by Sarah J. Ewing in collaboration with Dancers Performed by S. J. Ewing & Dancers
Libretto by Louis Gallet, based on the novel ”Thaïs”by Anatole France
Athanaël, a Cenobite (Christian) monk has visions of a courtesan and priestess of Venus named Thaïs, whom he had seen many years ago in his native city of Alexandria. Believing these visions to be a sign from God, he resolves to return to Alexandria to convert Thaïs to Christianity and persuade her to enter a convent.
Athanaël arrives in Alexandria and visits his old friend Nicias. Nicias welcomes him and reveals himself to be Thaïs’ current lover. Upon hearing of Athanaël’s plan, he laughs at his friend, yet decides to help him. He gives Athanaël fancy clothes to hide his identity of a monk. Later in the evening Thaïs comes to the lavish celebration and sings a bittersweet love duet with Nicias: this is their last night together. Nicias’ gloomy friend arouses her curiosity. Athanaël reveals that he has come to lead her away from her dissolute lifestyle to find the only God, but she replies that she believes in the joy of life.
Exhausted, Thaïs laments her empty life and ponders that, one day, old age will destroy her beauty. Athanaël enters, praying to God to conceal her beauty from him. He tells Thaïs that he loves her spiritually and that this kind of love is everlasting. Intrigued, she asks him to teach her the ways of this love. He tells her that if she converts, she will gain eternal life. At first, she rejects it, but after a long meditation, she changes her mind.
Thaïs has joined Athanaël and has resolved to follow him into the desert. He orders her to burn down her house and all her possessions in order to destroy all traces of her wicked past. She agrees, but asks if she can keep a statuette of Eros, the god of love. When he hears that Nicias gave it to her, Athanaël demands her to destroy it. Nicias appears with a group of revelers who see Athanaël taking Thaïs away. Furious, they go after him. Although Nicias is astonished at Thaïs’ decision to leave, he respects it and throws handfuls of money to distract the crowd. Thaïs and Athanaël escape.
Thaïs and Athanaël travel on foot through the desert. Thaïs is exhausted, but Athanaël forces her to keep going and thus do penance for her sins. As they reach the convent where Thaïs is to stay, Athanaël places her in the care of Mother Superior Albine. As he realizes that he has accomplished his mission, he understands that he will never see her again.
The Cenobite monks are concerned with Athanaël’s strange behavior since his return from Alexandria. Athanaël confesses to Palémon that he is experiencing sexual longing for Thaïs. Palémon castigates him for having attempted to convert her in the first place. Athanaël falls into a depressed sleep and has an erotic vision of Thaïs. He tries to seize her, but she laughingly evades him. Then, a second vision tells him that Thaïs is dying.
Realizing that his existence is worth nothing without Thaïs, Athanaël repudiates all his vows and rushes off to find her. He reaches the convent and finds her on her deathbed. He tells her that all he taught her was a lie, that “nothing is true but life and the love of human beings” and that he loves her. Blissfully unaware, she describes the heavens opening and the angels welcoming her into their midst. As Thaïs dies, Athanaël collapses in despair.
Meet the Artists
Sarah Joy Miller
Sarah Joy Miller, praised by The New York Times as “vivacious and fearless” is widely acknowledged as one of the industry’s foremost emerging talents. Ms. Miller first began turning heads at her New York City Opera and BAM débuts to great critical acclaim singing the title role in the Royal Opera House commissioned opera Anna Nicole by Mark-Anthony Turnage. Ms. Miller joined the esteemed roster of The Metropolitan Opera for their productions of Orfeo et Eurydice , Rigoletto, Thaïs, L’elisir d’amore, Gianni Schicchi, and Adriana Lecouvreur in which she performed the role of Mlle. Jouvenot in her main stage début. Ms. Miller is frequently a guest artist on domestic and international concert stages including the Bolshoi Theater; Slovak Sinfonietta; the New York Choral Society; the Marcello Giordani Foundation. Concert engagements include performances of Carmina Burana with Dallas Symphony Orchestra; a “Puccini to Pop” concert with Tulsa Opera; Eternal Light: An advocate of bridging the gap between opera and musical theatre, Ms. Miller made her professional operatic début singing Mimì in Baz Luhrmann’s acclaimed Broadway production of Puccini’s La bohème and went on to reprise the role at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles.
Ms. Miller’s musical collaborations and accomplishments reach well beyond the traditional scope of opera. Signed to Decca Records as part of the trio Three Graces, Ms. Miller recorded an album featuring contributions by the finest producers and songwriters in the pop music industry including Walter Afanasieff (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion), Desmond Child (Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin) and Guy Roche (Christina Aguilera,
Michael Bolton). She co-wrote two of the album’s original tracks – “I Wish” and “Do not Let Me Forget” and recorded a Music video of “Requiem” for Panasonic. Three Graces performs throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and enjoyed an invitation to perform at a Youth Rally honoring Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to New York, among numerous televised appearances.
In 2013, she released her début classical album, A Glorious Dream, recorded with the Pannon Philharmonic conducted by Maestro Steven Mercurio in Pécs, Hungary.
A major stage personality noted for his incisive interpretations, in a career which spans more than 40 years, Louis Otey has performed with the leading opera companies of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera and, in Europe, with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opera de Paris, Teatro Real Madrid, Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Opera de Geneve, Royal Danish Opera , Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf, Opera de Monte-Carlo, Opera de Lyon, Lyric Opera Dublin, Opera de Nantes, and Stadttheater Basel. In North America, he has appeared with many regional theaters, including the Austin Lyric Opera, Calgary Opera, Florentine Opera, Opera Hamilton, Hawaii Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, New Orleans Opera, Portland Opera, Seattle Opera, Spoleto Festival, U.S.A, Utah Opera, Connecticut Opera, Cleveland Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Michigan Opera Theater. He has also been engaged by numerous orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and American Symphony, and the Israeli Philharmonic and the Orchestra of Santa Cecilia, to name a few. Besides performing in many of the leading theaters of the world, Mr. Otey has performed with some of the finest artists and conductors of our time. He has sung under the batons of James Levine, AnthonyPappano, Richard Bonynge, Sir Andrew Davis, James Conlon, Nicola Rescigno, Bertrand de Billy, Marco Armiliato, Nicola Luisotti, Alan Gilbert, Fruhbeck de Burgos and Zubin Mehta. Renowned artists with whom he has shared the stage include Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jon Vickers, Grace Bumbry, Cornell MacNeil, Joan Sutherland, Renee Fleming, Roberto Alagna, Anna Netrebko, Marylin Horne, Ezio Flagello, Samuel Ramey, Jose Carreras, Rosalind Elias, Justino Diaz, Anthony Laciura, Carlo Bergonzi, Roberta Peters, Katia Ricciarelli and Frederica von Stade.
Joseph Michael Brent
Tenor Joseph Michael Brent, a native New Yorker, began his operatic career as a doctoral student at the University of Georgia, Athens. Since graduating in the fall of 2014, Dr. Brent’s lyric tenor voice has continued to gain recognition around the United States and abroad. Most recently, he became the inaugural tenor resident artist of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio, under the artistic direction of internationally acclaimed tenor Richard Leech and opera impresario Dr. David Dichiera. He completed two seasons as resident artist, ending his tenure at the Michigan Opera Theatre in the spring of 2017.
As a member of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio Dr. Brent’s roles included Theodore “Laurie” Lawrence (Little Women), Martin (The Tender Land), the Kronprinz (Silent Night), Malcolm (Macbeth), Trin (La Fanciulla del West), and Remendado (Carmen).
Bass-baritone Hunter Enoch joined the Cafritz Young Artist program at Washington National Opera in the fall of 2015. During his time with the company, he was heard as Count Almaviva in the Young Artist performance of Le nozze di Figaro, a Corporal in The Daughter of the Regiment, ADC in The Dictator’s Wife, covered Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking, and sang Sharpless in the Young Artist performance of Madame Butterfly. His WNO debut was as Moralés in Carmen and he was later heard as James Miller in the world premiere of Better Gods. In the 2019-2020 season, Mr. Enoch returned to WNO as Montano in Otello, and sang the role of Kurwenal in Act 2 of Tristan und Isolde with the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda at both the Kennedy Center and at Lincoln Center, and performed Palémon with Maryland Lyric Opera. In the 2018-19 Mr. Enoch performed the role of William Dale in Silent Night at Washington National Opera, made his company and role debut as Scarpia for Opera Birmingham, and sang Happy in La Fanciulla del West and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor for Maryland Lyric Opera, and debuted Wotan with Pacific Northwest Opera in The Ring in One Evening. This season Mr. Enoch will sing Scarpia with Anchorage Opera and returns to Pacific Northwest Opera as Germont in La Traviata.
Born in South Korea, Hayan Kim returns to MDLO fresh off perfroming Crobyle in Thaïs. Kim was recently an apprentice artist at The Santa Fe Opera covering Despina Così fan tutte and Jano Jenůfa. Hayan graduated with her Professional Studies and Master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Korea National University of Arts. Previous credits include Gilda Rigoletto with Garden State Opera, Servilia La Clemenza di Tito and Sabina Hadrian with the Aspen Music Festival, Konstanze Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Dew Fairy Hansel and Gretel for the Manhattan School of Music and Adina L’elisir d’amore, Musetta La Bohème, and Despina Così fan tutte for companies in Korea. Concert credits include Soprano Soloist in Haydn's Die schöpfung and Harmoniemesse and Händel’s Messiah. Hayan was recently chosen as the finalist for the Concurso de Canto Tenor Vinas, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Eastern Region and Marcella Sembrich International Voice Competition. Ms.Kim has received awards and recognitions from the Opera Index Competition, Berliner International Music Competition, East Coast International Competition, Verismo Competition and also been awarded the AOC Fellowship, in honor of Renée Fleming in Aspen Music Festival.
Praised for her “grease lightning coloratura” and “impressive dramatic versatility,” Caroline made her professional operatic debut as Dido in Houston Opera Project’s Dido and Aeneas. Other operatic roles include Angelina in La Cenerentola, Cherbuino in Le nozze di Figaro, Lucia in La Gazza Ladra, Isoletta in La Straniera, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Luisa Fernanda, Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte, Meg Page in Die Lustige Weber von Windsor and Thelma in John Musto’s Later the Same Evening.
This season, Caroline returns to Sacramento Opera as Rosina in their new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia, Operatunity Theater for Sing in the New Year!ä and joins North Shore Music Festival in Carmen. Caroline was named the first prize winner at the 2018 Lotte Lenya Competition and has won prizes from the Kristin Lewis Foundation, PASF Santa Barbara, and the Henry & Maria Holt Scholarship Foundation.
A California native, Caroline Hewitt is an alumni of The Moores Opera Center where she graduated with Highest Honors, Vanderbilt University, American Conservatory Theater, Brevard Music Center, and SongFest. Caroline is also the host of the podcast Music & Weights.
More info can be found at mezzocaroline.com.
Sarah Joyce Cooper
Commended for her "meltingly beautiful" (Opera News) singing, soprano Sarah Joyce Cooper performs year-round throughout the US. Recent performances include Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (CoOPERAtive), Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro (Savannah Voice Festival), Micaëla in Carmen (Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance), Violetta in La Traviata (New York Opera Studio/ Elizabeth R. and Co.), Mimi in La Bohème (Boston Opera Collaborative), and Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Boston Opera Collaborative). In 2016, Sarah was a first-place winner of the Coeur d’Alene Symphony Young Artists Competition and the Westminster Choir College Voice Scholarship competition. Sarah also received the 2017 Colleen and Edward Carducci Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan National Council Auditions in Columbia, South Carolina. In 2018, Sarah earned first place in The American Prize Competition’s Opera and Operetta division and Second Place in the International Talents of the World Competition in New York City. As a TOW competition prizewinner, she made her Carnegie Hall debut in December in a tribute concert to Maria Callas. In 2019, Sarah appeared as a finalist in the George London Competition and was nominated for a Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation. Most recently, Sarah performed as a soloist with the Du Bois orchestra in the historic world premiere of Florence Price’s long-lost cantata, Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight. Sarah looks forward to joining the Maryland Lyric Opera Institute this coming season, where she will perform the role of La Charmeuse in a production of Massenet’s Thaïs.
Allegra De Vita
Allegra was recently seen as Angelina in La Cenerentola at Boston Midsummer Opera, The Page in Salome at The Spoleto Festival, Siebel in Faust at Washington National Opera and the title role in Carmen in a semi-staged production with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Future engagements include Maddalena in Rigoletto with Austin Opera, Rinaldo in Rinadlo at the Glimmerglass Festival. As a 2018 graduate from the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program she was seen as Rosina in The Barber of Seville (Emerging Artist Performance), Tebaldo in Don Carlo, Sister 2 in Provin’ Up, The Fox/A Rose in The Little Prince, Ruggiero in Alcina (Emerging Artist Performance), the title role in The Dictator’s Wife, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro (Emerging Artist Performance) and Kate Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly. She was also seen as Tancredi in Erminia with Opera Lafayette, Arsamenes in Xerxes at the 2017 Glimmerglass Festival as well as the roles of Olga in Eugene Onegin with Syracuse Opera and Isaura inTancredi with Opera Philadelphia. Allegra was a 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finalist.
Louis Salemno is the Music Director of Maryland Lyric Opera and is the principal conductor for all its performances, including the recent Thaïs, La fanciulla del West, and the MDLO Orchestra concert featuring pianist Leon Fleisher. He oversees the recruitment and training of the emerging artists of the MDLO Institute and leads the team responsible for auditioning, hiring, and managing the MDLO Orchestra and Chorus.
Maestro’s long and storied international conducting career includes posts at some of the world’s leading opera houses, including Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and New York City Opera, among many others. He studied with Nadia Boulanger in France and was mentored by the legendary Kurt Herbert Adler, Krzysztof Penderecki, Gianandrea Gavazzeni and Bruno Bartoletti. As a pianist, he has appeared in recital with Montserrat Caballe and Denyce Graves.
As a mentor, he held the post of Resident Coach for Washington National Opera’s acclaimed Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program for nearly a decade, where he also trained conducting students as well as visiting conductors in preparation for performances. He has also mentored singers at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. He studied piano with Mieczyslaw Horszowski and conducting with Max Rudolf at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Claudia Zahn trained as an actor and director at Carnegie-Mellon University School of Drama (BFA) and Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts (MFA). She also studied in the NYU Certificate program in Arts Administration and at the Foundation Center in New York City. From 1998 to 2008, she was associate professor and Director of Opera and Musical Theater at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle. Claudia has also directed at opera and musical theater companies throughout the country.
From 2013 to 2015, Claudia was Managing Director and on the Board of Directors of the Malibu Playhouse. Since returning to NYC in 2017, she has worked as a producing and development consultant with Mango Baroque, as well as with Welcome Change Productions. She recently joined the Board of the York Theatre Company in New York City. This winter, she returns to the opera world to direct a new production of Massenet’s THAÏS at Maryland Lyric Opera.
Set and Lighting Designer
Harry Feiner is a set and lighting designer for theatre, opera and dance. His work includes many Off-Broadway productions, as well as LORT and regional productions, including designs for: The Mint Theatre Co., The Peccadillo Theatre Company, The Cherry Lane Theatre, The Pearl Theatre, The Directors Company, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Virginia Stage, A Red Orchid Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Peoples’ Light & Theatre Company, Olney Theatre, Studio Arena Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, McCarter Theatre, Capital Rep, Delaware Theatre Company, Two River Theatre Company, GEVA, Premier Stages, George Street Playhouse, Syracuse Stage, Theatre Virginia, Philadelphia Drama Guild, The Pennsylvania Stage Company, New Jersey Rep, & The Actors’ Studio. He has designed for The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Colorado Shakespeare Festival, The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. Dance designs include Rioult Dance, Germaul Barnes’ Viewsonic Dance & North Carolina Dance Theatre. He has designed opera for Central City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Lake George Opera, Florida State Opera, Pennsylvania Opera Theatre, Syracuse Opera, Chatauqua Opera, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth Opera, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Feiner has served as head of production for Lake George Opera Festival and resident designer for Missouri Repertory Theatre. Exhibitions include several Prague Quadrennials including the upcoming PQ 2019, The World Stage Design Exhibition and USITT Design Exhibitions. Mr. Feiner has received grants from the Graham and Tobin Foundations. His awards include nominations and awards received in Boston, Connecticut and Santa Barbara, and company commendations with the Pearl Theatre Company (Drama Desk and Obies). He also received a CUNY Chancellor’s Honoree for Excellence award. Mr. Feiner has written on the relationship between consciousness studies, theatrical space and the arts, on which he has given several papers internationally, and published book chapters and conference anthologies. He teaches at Queens College, CUNY and served as department.
Her costume designs have been seen at theatres across the country including the Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera (world premiere of Dead Man Walking, with the international premier at State Opera South Australia), Alley Theatre in Houston, Atlanta's Alliance Theatre Company, Playmaker's Repertory Company, Hartford Stage Company, Denver Center Theatre Company, Buffalo Studio Arena Theatre, Center Stage in Baltimore, StageWest in Springfield, MA, Houston Opera Studio, Skylight Opera Theatre, Texas Opera Theatre, ACT Seattle, Georgia Shakespeare Festival and Berkeley Repertory Theatre (Craig Lucas's award-winning Reckless). She designed over 50 productions for Milwaukee Repertory Theater during her 14 years with the company. Ms. Fleming received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for her designs for the Dr. Seuss-inspired A Midsummer Night's Dream at Westwood Playhouse. Off-Broadway, she designed the new musical Prince and the Pauper, and has worked with the Pearl Theatre, Manhattan Class Company and Womens' Project Productions at American Place Theatre. She is the associate costume designer for The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.
Steven Gathman was appointed Chorus Master of Maryland Lyric Opera last fall and prepared the chorus for La Fanciulla Del West. He has spent 24 years with Washington National Opera and was appointed Chorus Master in 1997. He has prepared the WNO Chorus for over 120 productions in seven languages. For WNO he has conducted performances of Tosca, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La clemenza di Tito, Der fliegende Holländer, and Carmen. At the Miami Summer Music Festival he has conducted Dido and Aeneas, The Medium, Albert Herring, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Gianni Schicchi. He has served on the music staffs of the Metropolitan Opera, Il Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Pacific. He was on the faculty of the University of Maryland at College Park and served as a guest coach at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, in addition to giving master classes around the country. He holds a bachelor’s of music in piano from DePaul University and a doctor of musical arts degree in piano accompanying and chamber music from the University of Michigan.