Operagasm Review Rundown: LA Opera’s Thaïs
by Christie Connolley
Even Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times could not resist Placido Domingo and Nino Machaidze in LA Opera’s production of Thaïs. Check it out in the Operagasm Review Rundown!
First, let’s remember an old-timey version of Janet Jackson: “The “Thaïs” premiere in 1894 is remembered for Sibyl Sanderson’s wardrobe malfunction. A strap holding up the gown of the full-figured soprano from Sacramento, the daughter of a former California Supreme Court chief justice, slipped (or she let slip). Sanderson finished the first act by seducing the monk Athanaël topless, to, it was reported, the pleasure of the company, the composer, the crowd and the critics.”
LOL: “A hoary, horny monk, moreover, suits Raab’s production, which is feminist and chaste. The German director makes the monks not religious recluses but kinky swells in white tie and tails, the theater crowd.”
Voluptuous mush nonetheless: ”Thaïs, particularly as sung by Machaidze, might be Sarah Bernhard portraying Tosca. Her theatrical gestures are broadly histrionic in the overstated manner of an earlier age. Machaidze’s voice is grand-sized to match, not the more delicately precise inflection of a French soprano. She turns words into mush, but gorgeous, voluptuous mush.”
The melodrama is spreading faster than MERS: ”The performance is generally strong, if sometimes too strong. Domingo is ever on. He impressively doesn’t hold back, beginning, middle or end. That, then, becomes contagious, not just to Machaidze’s melodramatic Thaïs but also to the excessive hothouse nature of many aspects of this show, musically, visually and theatrically.”