Segerstrom Center Welcomes LA Opera in Concert Version of Jules Massenet's THAIS Tonight
Segerstrom Center for the Arts will present LA Opera Off Grand with a special concert performance of Jules Massenet's lyric masterpiece Thaïs tonight, May 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The opera tells the story of Thaïs, a courtesan in Alexandria, Egypt during the Byzantine period whom men find irresistible in the hedonistic way she celebrates life and its most sensual pleasures. The monk Athanaël vows to save her soul, but loses his own when his unholy obsession for her overpowers him. The incomparable Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze will sing the title Role alongside LA Opera General Director Plácido Domingo in the baritone role as her conflicted savior, Athanaël. Patrick Fournillier will conduct the same cast as well as the LA Opera Orchestra and Chorus that will appear in the company's fully-staged production from May 17 - June 7 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The opera is filled with intoxicating melodies, including the well known violin concert piece, Meditation. There will also be a free Preview Talk prior to the Segerstrom Center performance in the Studio Performance Space from 6:30 - 7:15 p.m. Thaïs will be performed in French with English supertitles.
Tickets to Thaïs start at $45 and are on sale now. They are available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787. The TTY number is (714) 556-2746.
Center President Terrence W. Dwyer said, "It is always a pleasure to welcome Plácido Domingo and his LA Opera back to the Center. It is one of the world's greatest opera companies, and their performances at the Center enable us to expand our programming and offer new cultural opportunities to our audience. Each time the company comes to the Center, they bring works that have never been performed here before, making these especially exciting and welcoming experiences for our audience. To our knowledge, this will actually be the first time that one of Massenet's operas will have been performed in Orange County. We can think of no greater introduction than with this spectacular production of Thaïs starring Mr. Domingo and his wonderful company."
"Thaïs is not as well known as many operas, but it should be. It is an incredibly beautiful work and a wonderful star vehicle for a soprano with vocal virtuosity, physical beauty and stage charisma. We have just such an artist with Nino Machaidze. I personally love singing the part of Athanaël; it's a dramatically challenging role with lots of beautiful music. And I'm so pleased that we are returning to Segerstrom Center for the Arts and performing for our many friends in Orange County. Those who have not heard Thaïs will fall in love with it, and for those who do know it, this will be a very special treat."
Although it was popular in the early years of the 20th century, Thaïs never found a place in the standard opera repertory in the United States. But beginning with the San Francisco Opera production in the late 1950s starring Leontyne Price, Thaïs has reclaimed its place as an exciting star vehicle for such artists as Beverly Sills, Anna Moffo, Renée Fleming and Elizabeth Futral. Adding to its romantic aura, or even curiosity, are such facts that it was composed by the French Massenet for San Francisco-born soprano Sibyl Sanderson and that it was adopted as a favorite role for the great soprano Mary Garden. The first recording of Thaïs was not made until 1952, though the second act Meditation, the entr'acte for violin and orchestra played between scenes of Act II, is a well known concert piece.
Patrick Fournillier conducts Thaïs. It stars Nino Machaidze in the title role and LA Opera General Director Plácido Domingo as Athanaël. Paul Groves is Thaïs' lover Nicias, with Valentin Anikin as the old Cenobite monk Palémon, Milena Kitic as the abbess and Hae Ji Chang and Cassandra Zoé Velasco as Thaïs' servants Crobyle and Myrtale. The chorus master is Grant Gershon.
A full synopsis and additional information about Thaïs can be found on the LA Opera website:
In just 26 seasons, LA Opera has become one of America's most ambitious opera companies. Presenting benchmark productions of standard repertoire as well as new and rarely staged operas, the Company brings together world-renowned singers, designers, directors and conductors for performances that attract the attention of international audiences and critics. Highlights of recent seasons include the world premiere of Daniel Catán's Il Postino and the Company's first complete Ring cycles. For more information about the LA Opera 2013 - 2014 Season and the 2014 - 2015 Season, please visit www.laopera.com.
The concert performance of Thaïs presented as part of LA Opera Off Grand, an initiative developed to bring LA Opera performances to a wider geographical area, increase audience diversity and expand the range of experiences for the Company's existing attendees. Programs expand traditional ideas of the operatic experience by experimenting with different performance spaces and introducing creative artists new to the genre and a variety of musical styles. In addition to Thaïs, Segerstrom Center for the Arts has presented LA Opera in concert performances of The Two Foscari and Falstaff as part of the Off Grand program.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts (www.scfta.org) is unique as both an acclaimed arts institution and as a multi-disciplinary cultural campus. It is committed to supporting artistic excellence on all of its stages, offering unsurpassed experiences, and engaging the entire community in new and exciting ways through the unique power of live performance and a diverse array of inspiring programs.
Previously called the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Center traces its roots back to the late 1960s when a dedicated group of community leaders decided Orange County should have its own world-class performing arts venue.
As Orange County's largest non-profit arts organization, Segerstrom Center for the Arts owns and operates the 3,000-seat Segerstrom Hall and intimate 250-seat Founders Hall, which opened in 1986, and the 2,000-seat Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which opened in 2006 and also houses the 500-seat Samueli Theater, the Lawrence and Kristina Dodge Education Center's studio performance space and Boeing Education Lab. A spacious arts plaza anchors Segerstrom Center for the Arts and is home to numerous free performances throughout the year as part of Segerstrom Center for the Arts' ongoing Free for All series.
The Center presents a broad range of programming each season for audiences of all ages from throughout Orange County and beyond, including international ballet and dance, national tours of top Broadway shows, intimate performances of jazz and cabaret, contemporary artists, classical music performed by renowned chamber orchestras and ensembles, family-friendly programming, free performances open to the public from outdoor movie screenings to dancing on the plaza and many other special events. It offers many education programs designed to inspire young people through the arts. These programs reach hundreds of thousands of students of all ages with vital arts-in-education programs, enhancing their studies and enriching their lives well into the future.
In addition to the presenting and producing institution Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the 14-acre campus also embraces the facilities of two independent acclaimed organizations: Tony Award®-winning South Coast Repertory and a site designated as the future home of the Orange County Museum of Art.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts is also proud to serve as the artistic home to three of the region's major performing arts organizations: Pacific Symphony, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the Pacific Chorale, who contribute greatly to the artistic life of the region with annual seasons at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.