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The Sunday Opera: Two by Massenet: "Thais" & "Therese"

We’re featuring the music of Jules Massenet on this week’s Sunday Opera (6/6 3:00 p.m.) with two of his operas.  We’ll begin with a story of lust and misplaced religious fervor in “Thais.”    The program will feature the 1989 revised version in a recording made over six months between 1997 and 1998.   Thais (Renee Fleming) is a wealthy courtesan in Alexandria whom a Cenobite monk named Athanael (Thomas Hampson) sees in a supposed vision.   He sets off to find Thais and save her soul, but he learns too late that it’s not her soul that he’s really after.   Athanael is able to persuade Thais to leave her life with the wealthy Nicias (Giuseppe Sabbatini), but his burgeoning lust for her leads him to lose his religion as Thais finds hers with dire consequences.  The cast also features Marie Develleereau, Isabelle Cals, Stefano Palatchi, and David Grousset with Yves Abel conducting the Bordeaux Opera Chorus and the Orchestre National Bordeaux, Aquitaine.  

The second opera, “Therese,” was written in 1907 and takes us to the France during the Revolution.  Therese (Agnes Baltsa) is the wife of a Girondist Representative named Andre Thorel (George Fortune) but is in love with Armand de Clerval (Francicso Araiza) who is a nobleman trying to flee for his life.   When the Revolution becomes more violent, Therese must choose between staying with her husband because of her sense of duty which will lead to certain death or fleeing France with Andre.  

This short, two-act opera also features Giancarlo Luccardi, Eftimios Michalopoulus, and Gino Sinimberghi with Gerd Albrecht conducting the Radio and Television Symphonic Orchestra of Rome.  

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.