Thais, Opera

Thais was a hetaera of Alexander the Great.

Madame Geraldine Farrar as Thaïs

Madame Geraldine Farrar as Thaïs in the opera of that name.


Thaïs is an opera in three acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Louis Gallet based on the novel of the same name by Anatole France. It was first performed at the Opéra in Paris on March 16, 1894, with the glamorous American soprano Sybil Sanderson, for whom Massenet had written it, in the title role. Set in Roman Egypt, the story concerns a cenobite monk, Athanaël, who attempts to convert Thaïs, a courtesan of Alexandria and devotée of Venus, to Christianity but finds himself motivated by vanity. It has been described as bearing a kind of titillating religious eroticism in an atmosphere of suppressed hysteria. The role of the courtesan of Alexandria provided Mary Garden with one of opera's most spectacular entrances ("C'est Thaïs"— at the Manhattan Opera in 1907— and has spawned many controversial productions. Its famous Méditation for violin is an entr'acte played before a closed curtain between the scenes of Act II, a chance for the orchestra's first violinist to show his mettle; it is among the most frequently performed concert pieces and has been arranged for many different instruments.

After Manon and Werther Thaïs is one of Massenet's most performed operas, but it is not part of the standard operatic repertoire. The role of Thaïs, similar to another Massenet heroine, Esclarmonde, is notoriously difficult to sing and is reserved for only the most gifted of performers. Modern interpreters have included Anna Moffo, Beverly Sills, Leontyne Price and, most recently, Renée Fleming.

Principal Characters

  • Thaïs, a courtesan - soprano
  • Athanaël, a Cenobite monk - baritone
  • Nicias, a nobleman - tenor
  • Crobyle, his sevant - soprano
  • Myrtale, his servant - mezzo-soprano
  • Palémon, leader of the Cenobites - bass
  • Albine, an abbess - mezzo-soprano

Ancient Greece

Science, Technology , Medicine , Warfare, , Biographies , Life , Cities/Places/Maps , Arts , Literature , Philosophy ,Olympics, Mythology , History , Images

Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire

Science, Technology, Arts, , Warfare , Literature, Biographies, Icons, History

Modern Greece

Cities, Islands, Regions, Fauna/Flora ,Biographies , History , Warfare, Science/Technology, Literature, Music , Arts , Film/Actors , Sport , Fashion



Greek-Library - Scientific Library




Hellenica World