Thais

The next installment in The Met: Live in HD series will be a new production of Massenet's romantic 1892 opera, Thaïs. Massenet was a master of tailoring his scores to evoke the historical settings of his operas, and Thaïs gives him an opportunity to luxuriate in a sensual musical exoticism. The opera, set in fourth century Alexandria, concerns an ascetic monk, Athanal, who sets out to convert Thaïs, a notorious courtesan, to Christianity, and the conflict that results from her move toward a radical spirituality, and his move toward acceptance of his repressed sexual passion.

The new production, directed by John Cox, features sumptuous settings and costumes by Paul Brown, with Thaïa' wardrobe provided by Christian Lacroix. The performance stars Renee Fleming as Thaïs and Thomas Hampson as Athanal. These are signature roles for both singers, and they recorded the opera together in 1997.

The live transmission of Thaïs will be on Saturday, December 20, from noon to 3:35 (ET), with an encore broadcast on Wednesday, January 7, 2009, at 7:00 pm (local time). Check your local theater listings for details, or check out the Met's website.