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Subject: Met's Saturday Broadcast: "Thais"
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:24:17 -0500
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I’m a bit surprised the Met’s Saturday Matinee broadcast performance of 
Thais this past Saturday of the November 11th Sirius broadcast generated 
not a single post.  In fact, the entire run of Thais this season went nearly un
unnoticed on the list, producing only 3 or 4 posts.

Although I listened to this performance when it was aired live, I still 
couldn’t resist spending my Saturday with Massenet’s glorious score in wh
what was a pretty terrific performance.  

Ailyn Perez had a great success in her role debut with a sensual feel and a 
mostly easy top.  I’m sure she’s still finding her way regarding pacing, but 
at the prima while she landed on the big D’s in the final duet, they were 
not as easy and quickly let go of as opposed to using a more elastic  
approach . . .  lingering just a tad longer to bend the line into a frisson of 
excitement.  A minor quibble, particularly of someone who seems to have 
every other aspect of the role rather nicely in place.

Gerald Finley offered absolutely gorgeous tone, maybe the most sensual so
sounding Athanael in my experience.  From the opening scene with the Ce
Cenobites he made believable both the pious religious leader and a man po
possessed and obsessed by the unattainable.  Each of the duets with his fe
femme fatale were terrific.

Luxury casting came in the form of French tenor, Jean-Francois Borras 
(whose pinch hitting for Kaufmann in “Werther” several seasons ago was an
an unexpected season highlight) taking on Nicias thus elevating a fairly mi
minor (if crucial) role, fleshing him out a substantial character he should be
be.  Even the little duet between Thais and Nicias came across as less arch or
or fake than it sometimes does, with a touch of sentimentality that seemed ge
genuine.

Maestro Villaume knew exactly which direction to take Massenet’s 
Alexandrian adventure,  and it was about as romantic and strong a case for 
Thais as can be presented today.  Wisely, he built the work up from the 
hushed religious opening to the sparkling portrait of Alexandria that, for 
me, contains some of Massenets most memorably infectious music.  While 
I’ve known this opera since my early teens, perhaps it is 
because “Meditation” is one of my earliest musical memories (from Church, 
of all places) the entrance of the wordless chorus remains, for me, one of 
operas most unexpected “surprises” – every single time.  

On FB I announced I was ready to be called a heathen for it, but that I will 
take Thais over Manon any day of the week.  I was pleasantly surprised to 
learn I wasn’t as alone as I thought!

I hope others got to enjoy this broadcast, as much as I did.  

p.

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