(Here's an interesting bit of trivia: there was a startling wardrobe malfunction at the opera's premiere in Paris, where American diva Sybil Sanderson's gown fell apart, exposing her left breast. It caused a scandal to rival Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction a century later.)
Unfortunately, this 2008 production from the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy, never quite soars. Soprano Barbara Frittoli is too darkly dramatic in both voice and demeanour as the adulated Thaïs. And Stefano Poda's design, choreography and direction, while as visually stunning as anything you'll ever see in an opera house, undercuts the progress of the story right from the opening scene.
Baritone Lado Atanelli is excellent as the ardent, conflicted monk, and conductor Gianandrea Noseda, a frequent guest of the Toronto Symphony, makes sublime work of Massenet's rich score.
There are no extras on the disc. The Metropolitan Opera's recent production of Thaïs, featuring Renée Fleming, is due out on DVD sometime soon. It's worth waiting for. -- TheStar.com, John Terauds, September 15, 2009