“Meditation” From Jules Massenet’s 1894 Opera “Thaïs”

by • November 19, 2010 • MusicComments (0)3965

Thaïs is an opera in three acts by Jules Massenet based on the novel Thaïs by Anatole France.  It was first performed at the Opéra Garnier in Paris on March 16, 1894.   Thaïs takes place in Egypt during Byzantine rule, where a Cenobite monk, Athanaël, attempts to convert Thaïs, an Alexandrian courtesan and devotée of Venus, to Christianity, but discovers too late that his obsession with her is rooted in lust; while the courtesan’s true purity of heart is revealed, so is the religious man’s baser nature.  The work is often described as bearing a sort of religious eroticism, and has had many controversial productions.  Its famous Méditation (the entr’acte for violin and orchestra played between the scenes of Act II) is an oft-performed concert music piece and has been arranged for many different instruments.


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