Thais marks the beginning of the collaboration between Dynamic and La Fenice theatre of Venice, one of the most renowned operatic institutions in the world. This is a top production with, in the title role, an Eva Mei in excellent form and of extraordinary interpretative talent. At her side, in the role of Athanaël, is the famous bass-baritone Michele Pertusi, who once more displays his indisputable class and spectacular high register. On the podium is Marcello Viotti, La Fenice’s music director. The clash between spirituality and sensuality, between sin and goodness, is one of the traits of Massenet’s output, when we think of works such as Hérodiade (1881), Manon (1884), Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame (1902) and the oratory Marie-Magdaleine (1873). The creation of Thaïs was strictly linked to the figure of one of the most famous singers of the day, the American Sybil Sanderson, who, a few years back, had made the success of Esclarmonde and, later, had sung over one hundred performances of Manon at the Opera-Comique. Sanderson was endowed with an extraordinary voice, which had an extension of three octaves, and extreme ease in reaching the high register; last but now least, whe was a beautiful woman. Massenet, who soon became her lover, had modelled the score of Esclarmonde on her vocal and physical characteristics: and now, with Thaïs, he planned to repeat the success. Thais could in fact be considered a sort of variant of Esclarmonde, with the addition of that dose of exoticism that had made the success of Le roi de Lahore. The opera was premièred at the Opéra at the beginning of 1894 to a cool reception. Massenet, however, had the satisfaction of being congratulated by many, important figures of the French music world, among them Camille Saint-Saens.