Published 15 February 2010


Opera in three acts by Jules Massenet.
Premiere at The Göteborg Opera Saturday 27 February 2010 at 18.00.

In The Göteborg Opera version of Thaïs, the Byzantine courtesan has become a celebrated diva in the 1890s’ world of theatre. Malin Byström takes on the challenge of performing the virtuoso leading role in a production with dazzlingly beautiful costumes and seductive tones.

Jules Massenet’s opera Thaïs from 1897 is one of the French romantic operas that was enormously popular at the time of its creation but that was to fall into oblivion in the later part of the 1900s. It is now experiencing a revival on the opera stages of the world and its themes are more in line with the times than ever - desire for luxury and eternal youth on the one hand and religious ascetism and fanaticism on the other hand. The opera is based on the novel with the same name by Anatole France.

Nicola Raab, currently making her Swedish directorial debut, has, in collaboration with Johan Engels, scenographer and costume designer, transferred Thaïs from 4th century Egypt to a decadent theatre milieu at the end of the 19th century – contemporary with Jules Massenet. The diva-cult surrounding actresses such as Sarah Bernhardt have been a great source of inspiration for the production team and Johan Engel’s stage and costume design are an absolute indulgence in extravagance. Linus Fellbom is responsible for the lighting design.

In this version Thaïs is a celebrated actress, desired and unattainable. The deeply religious Athanaël met her in his youth and has never forgotten her. After a revelation he decides to convert Thaïs from the sinful way of life she represents. He succeeds, only to discover, by the time it is too late, that he loves her.

The title role of the opera is known to be extremely difficult to sing. At The Göteborg Opera we have the pleasure to hear Malin Byström perform it for the first time. Most recently she performed a highly acclaimed Marguerite in our Faust in 2008. Athanaël is sung by our guest performer Thomas Lander while Nicias is performed by our own Tomas Lind. Jules Massenet’s sensual and refined music is brought forth by conductor Jan Latham-Koenig.

There will be an opportunity for press, radio and TV to film and take photographs on Tuesday 23 February at 13.30. For interviews with the participants, kindly book via the undersigned.

For review tickets to the premiere Saturday 27 February at 18.00, kindly contact Anita Manskog at or +46 (0)31 10 80 34. The performance lasts for approximately three hours including two intermissions.

Watch a video, and see interviews and costume sketches from Thaïs here. Press pictures will also be available on the website from Wednesday 24 (click on Press).

Best regards,
Christina Bjerkander
Press officer
031-10 80 35

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