The Metropolitan Opera HD Live (2006–…): Season 3, Episode 5 - Massenet: Thaïs - full transcript

Missionary Athaniel converts the prostitute Thais to Christianity; he even leads her to enter a nunnery. The convent door slams shut: No Men Allowed. Oh no, cries Athaniel, I've fallen in love with her. Too bad, so sad. Meditate on that.

Here is the bread.

Here is the salt.

And the hyssop.

The honey.

The water.

Every morning, Heaven's blessings
cover my garden like the dew.

Let us thank God for His many gifts...

...and pray for His protection.

May the demons of Hell never darken our path.

May the Lord extend His mighty arm
over our brother Athanaël.


He's been gone so long.

When will he return?

The time is near.

Last night, I saw him in a dream,
hurrying toward us.

Athanaël is one of God's chosen...

...for he is revealed in dreams.

Here he is.

Peace be with you.

Welcome, brother.

You're weary.

Come, rest!

Come, eat! Drink!

My heart is filled with bitterness and grief.

The city is possessed by sin.

A woman, Thaïs...

...will ruin them all.

Through her, the devil reigns.

Who is this Thaïs?

A corrupt priestess of the cult of Venus.

Alas, when I was young...

...before I heard God's call...

...I knew her power.

One day, I confess...

...I stopped at her door.

But God saved me.

I found peace here, in the desert.

I curse the sin...

...that almost was mine.

I am sick at heart.

Her shame fills me with bitter sorrow.

I want to win her soul for God!

We must not meddle
in worldly matters.

My son, beware of temptation.

This is our sacred rule.

Night is falling.

Let us pray...

...then rest.

Let us pray.

May the demons of Hell...

...never darken our path.

Lord, bless our bread, our water.

Bless the fruits of our garden.

Let nothing disturb our slumber.

Grant us peaceful rest.

Lord, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

Shame! Horror!

Lord, help me!

Great God, You who move
our hearts to compassion...

...all praise to You!

I see what I am called to do.

I shall arise and go forth.

I shall deliver that woman...

...from the snares of sin.

In the heavens, sad angels
lean down and weep for her.

Was she not formed
from Your breath, Lord?

The greater her sin,
the greater my pity.

I shall save her!

Lord, give her to my care...

...and I shall give her eternal life in You!


Wake up!

Come here!

My mission has been revealed.

I must return to the unholy city of Alexandria.

God forbids that Thaïs
should sink further into evil.

It is I who have been chosen to redeem her.

My son, we must not meddle
in worldly matters.

This is our sacred rule.

Spirit of life and grace...

...prepare my heart for battle.

Prepare his heart for battle.

Give me the strength of an archangel.

Let me not be tempted by the devil.

Prepare his heart.

Prepare me for battle.

Prepare his heart.

Let him not be tempted by the devil.

Out, beggar!

Seek your living elsewhere.

My master has no use for dogs like you.

My son, please, do as I say.

I am a friend of your master.
I wish to speak with him.

Get out!

Before you shoot me... should speak with your master.

So I return to the terrible city.


Here, I was born into sin.

I breathed the rank air of corruption.

Here, I heard the song...

...of the siren with eyes of gold.

Here, I was born to the life of the flesh.


My homeland, my cradle!

I have hardened my heart against you.

For your riches, I hate you.

For your science,
for your beauty, I hate you.

I curse you...

...just as I would curse a temple
haunted by evil spirits.

Come, angels of Heaven...

...breath of God.

Come, angels of Heaven...

...breath of God.

By the beating of your wings...

...cleanse this corrupt air.

Come, angels of Heaven...

...breath of God.


My classmate, my friend, my brother!

It's really you!

You look more like a beast than a man.

Embrace me!


So you're leaving the desert,
coming back to us?


...I have returned but for a day... hour.

Why have you come?

Nicias, do you know the actress...


...the courtesan?

Certainly, I know her.

In fact, she's mine...

...for one more day.

To have her, I sold vineyards,
land, a mill.

For her, I wrote three books of verse.

And all for nothing.

I'd like to keep her, but no one can.

Her love is as fleeting as a dream.

What do you want with her?

I want to bring her to God.

My poor friend!

Beware of offending Venus.

I will bring her to God.

I will make her repent her ways.

I will win Thaïs for Christ.

Thaïs will follow me
to a convent this very day.

Be careful of provoking Venus.

She is a vengeful goddess.

God will protect me.

Where will I find Thaïs?

Here. Tonight, for the last time...

...she'll join us for supper.

She has a performance today.

When it's over, she'll come here.

My friend, lend me proper clothing... wear to this feast.

Crobyle and Myrtale...

...come and dress my friend Athanaël.

You will dazzle us, just like the old days.

I will wear the trappings of Hell
to defeat the devil.

You are proud, Philosopher.

The soul is easily tempted.

I do not fear pride...

...when doing the Lord's work.

So young!

So handsome!

His beard's a bit rough.

His eyes are full of fire.

This suits him.

Honored Sir, your bracelets.

Rings...for your fingers.

Now your arms.

He's so handsome.

His eyes are full of fire.

Now for the robe.

Off with this shirt.

No! I'll never take it off!

So be it.

Hide your coarse habit under this robe.

Don't mind their teasing.

Look at them!

Enjoy them!

(Lord, arm my heart for battle.)

He's handsome as a god.

Put on some gold sandals.

Anoint your skin with perfume.

Don't let them upset you....

(Lord, arm my heart....)

He's beautiful...

Look at them! Enjoy them!

Don't mind them!

(Lord, arm my heart....)

So handsome!

Here comes your fearsome opponent.


...rose of Alexandria!

Beautiful, mysterious...

...desired by all!

Dearest Thaïs!

Guests and friends....

The gods be with you.

Here is Thaïs...

...come for the last time... feast at your table.

Tomorrow, I will be
nothing to you but a name.

We have loved one another
for seven long days.

For seven long days
we have loved one another.

After such devotion I should not complain.

But you will go.

You will fly free, far from my arms.

For now, let us be happy.

May our last hours blaze with joy.

Let us ask for nothing...

...but a taste of divine oblivion.


...I will be nothing to you but a name.

Who is that stranger...

...gazing so fiercely at me?

I've never seen him before.

Where is he from?

Who is he?

A stern philosopher...

...a hermit from the desert.

Look out!

He's come here for you.

Offering what?


No such weakness for him.

He wants to convert you to his faith.

What does he preach?

Mortification of the flesh... of suffering...

...acts of penance.

Go on your way.

I believe only in love.

There is no higher power.


Why so severe?

How can you deny the fire
that burns in you?

Why do you reject your nature?

Man was made for love.

You are sadly mistaken.

Man was made for knowledge...

...for experience.

You have not tasted the cup of life.

You have not studied the teachings of love.

Join us.

Let us crown you with roses.

Embrace love, the only truth!

No! I hate your false ecstasies.

I will come to you later...

...I will bring you to salvation.

I will vanquish Hell... conquering you!

Stay, crown yourself with roses.

Embrace love, the only truth!

I will come to your palace....

Crown yourself with roses.

Embrace love, the only truth!

I will take you from your palace
and bring you to salvation.

Come, defy Venus if you dare!

Come, defy Venus if you dare!

At last, I'm alone.

Away from those men, so empty... vulgar.

The women are cruel.

The hours are endless.

My soul is empty.

Will I ever find peace?


Faithful mirror...

...reassure me.

Tell me I'm beautiful...

...and I'll be beautiful for all eternity.

Tell me the roses of my lips will never wilt.

Tell me nothing will tarnish
the gold of my hair.

Tell me!

Tell me I'm beautiful...

...and I'll be beautiful for all eternity.

Be silent, cruel voices!

"Thaïs, you will grow old."

"One day, Thaïs will no longer be Thaïs."

I won't believe it!

Venus, tell me...

...I'll be beautiful for all eternity.

Venus, unseen and yet present....

Venus, ethereal enchantress....

Venus, answer me!

Tell me I'm beautiful...

...and I'll be beautiful for all eternity.

Tell me the roses of my lips will never wilt.

Tell me nothing can tarnish
the gold of my hair.

Tell me!

Tell me I'm beautiful.

Tell me I'll be beautiful for all eternity.

You're here, just as you said.

(O Lord, let her radiant face
be veiled before me.)

(Do not let her beauty
triumph over my will.)

Speak up.

They say no woman is your equal.

That is why I wished to meet you.

How beautiful, how glorious... win such a prize for Heaven!

Such lofty words...

...such grand ambitions.

Presumptuous man, beware of loving me.

I already love you, Thaïs.

I love you with a love
that you cannot comprehend.

I love you in spirit.

I love you in truth.

I offer more than the fleeting rapture...

...of a brief night.

I offer happiness...

...that will never end.


Tell me, then, of this great love.

True love speaks but one language...

...the language of kisses.

Thaïs, no!

You've never known the love I preach.

My friend...'re too late.

I've known every kind of love.

The love you know sows nothing but shame.

The love I preach is the only path to glory.

You're bold. You offend your hostess.

Offend you?

I'm here in the name of truth.

May my blazing words...

...melt your heart like wax.

May you be delivered to me.

May my words flow like a river... cleanse your soul...

...for eternal life.

Eternal life....

Very well.

You will teach me of this mysterious love.

I shall obey.

I am yours.

(A terrible storm rages within me.)

(O Lord, let her face be veiled before me.)

Venus, unseen and yet present....

Lord, have mercy!

Venus, ethereal enchantress....

-Venus, brilliance of the heavens....
-Protect me from her beauty....

Venus, whiteness of snow....

Venus, descend and reign...

...splendid, voluptuous, sweet.

I am Athanaël.

I came forth from the desert
to curse fleshly love.

I curse the death that possesses you.

I stand before your tomb.

I say to you...

...Thaïs, arise!

Have mercy! Don't hurt me!

What is it you want?

Please, no more.

I didn't choose my fate, my nature.

I can't be blamed for my beauty.

Have mercy on me.

I am so afraid of death.

Please...I don't want to die.

I tell you, you will live for all eternity.

You will be the bride of Christ... longer His enemy.

My soul is refreshed.

I tremble with delight.

Such powerful teachings!

Thaïs, delicate goddess... last time....

Nicias, again....

I want to taste your lips.

My soul is no longer my own.

Nicias has never truly loved anyone.

Tomorrow, I will be nothing to you but a name.


Tell Nicias I hate his riches, his parties.

Tell him I hate him.

I will wait outside for you until dawn.

No. I will remain Thaïs...

...Thaïs the courtesan.

I believe in nothing.

I want nothing.

Not Nicias, not you, not your god.

My Father, God spoke to me through you.

Thaïs, God has been waiting for you.

Your words soothed my heart
like a heavenly balm.

I prayed. I wept.

A great light entered my soul.

I have seen the error of my ways.

I have come just as you commanded.

Courage, my sister!

Soon, your soul will find rest.

What must I do?

There is a convent...

...where God's chosen women
live like the angels... perfect contemplation.

They are poor,
so Jesus might love them.

They are modest,
so He might gaze upon them.

They are chaste,
so He might wed them.

I will take you there...

...and consecrate you
to their holy mother, Albine.

Albine, daughter of the Caesars!

She is Christ's most holy servant.

I will shut you away in the cloister...

...until Jesus comes to deliver you.

Have no fear. He will come for you.

Your soul will tremble... He passes His fingers of light
over your eyes.

He will wipe away every tear.

Lead me, Father.

But first, you must destroy
every remnant of your shame.

Your palace, your riches!

Burn everything!

Father, as you wish.

I want nothing from my past life.

Only this... ivory figure...

...sacred to me.

The figure is Eros...Love.

My Father, how can I treat Love
with cruelty?

Love is a noble god.

He is not to blame for my sins.

Grieve not that Love was my master...

...but that I didn't understand his will.

Love demands that a woman
give herself only to one who loves.

For that law, we must honor him.

Take him. Place him in a monastery.

Those who see him will turn to God.

Love lifts us to celestial thoughts.

When Nicias loved me,
he gave me this figure.


Curse him!

Destroy it!

Everything must be burned!

Let every trace of your former life
be turned to dust.

Let the old Thaïs be no more.

Follow me, friends!

The night is just beginning.

I've already won back thirty times
the price I paid for Thaïs.

Let's continue the party!

Throw down a carpet.

Come here, Crobyle, Myrtale!

I now present "L'incomparable"!

Crobyle! Myrtale!

Sing the canticle of beauty!

She is as lovely as...

...the Queen of Sheba...

...who danced upon mirrors.

See how she moves... a flickering flame.

Her complexion is pale amber.

Her step is light as air.

She is a cool, impassive goddess.

She enchants with her eyes.

A glance from her...

...makes captives of us all.

There he is! Athanaël!

Hail, wise one!

Has Thaïs robbed you of your reason?

See how his face glows!


Thaïs is the bride of Christ.

She no longer belongs to you.

The wanton Thaïs is dead forever.

See, here is the new Thaïs!

Come, my sister,
let us flee this city forever.


Take Thaïs away?

What's he saying?

He speaks the truth!

Thaïs, you won't leave us.
You can't leave us.

Wicked man, don't touch her.

She belongs to God.

What does he want with Thaïs?

Send him back to the desert.

Get out, beggar!

Thaïs, don't leave us.

How will we live?

Robes, jewels, horses, all burning!

Who will repay us?

Kill him!

We are not afraid to die!


Take this instead!


Farewell, Thaïs.

You will forget me...

...but I will treasure your memory.

Goodbye, forever.

The hot sun beats down on me.

It will crush me under its weight.

Let's rest.


The body must be broken,
the flesh destroyed.

You speak the truth.

I offer my suffering
to the divine Redeemer.

Penance will make you pure.

You surrendered your perfect body
to pagans... Nicias.

God formed your body to be His tabernacle.

Now that you understand... can no longer close your lips... can no longer join your hands...

...without feeling deep shame.



You speak the truth.


I can't go on.


I can't.

Forgive me, Holy Father.

Your feet are bleeding!

Poor child!

I've asked too much of you.

Forgive me, my sister.

Holy Thaïs...

...most blessed Thaïs!

Your words are so gentle.

Let's continue.

Not yet.

Cool water and some food
will restore your strength.

Wait. I'll bring some water.

Do you see those walls?

That's the convent of Albine.

Our journey's end is near.

The messenger of God...

...strict but kind...

...has opened Heaven to me.

My flesh bleeds.

My soul overflows with joy.

A soft breeze soothes my hot brow.

More refreshing than spring water...

...sweeter than honey...

...your teachings revive me.

My spirit soars...

...freed from earthly shackles.

Most Holy Father... blessed!

Here is cool water.

Here is sweet fruit.

My life is yours.

God has given you to me.

-I belong to you.
-You belong to me.

God has given you to me.


Just seeing you revive... enough for me.

Everything seems new.

Your pain is soothed.

Divine goodness!

Sweetness beyond words!

Here is cool water.

Here is sweet fruit.

-I belong to you.
-You belong to me.

God has given you to me.

Our Father, who art in Heaven...

Who's that?

...give us this day our daily bread.

The sisters from the convent
come to greet us.

Listen to their prayers.

Lead us not into temptation...

...but deliver us from evil.

The peace of Christ be with you...

...blessed Albine.

By the grace of God...

...I found this poor creature.

She had lost her way.

I took her...

...very weak, into my hands...

...and warmed her with my breath.

Now, to consecrate her to God...

...I give her to you.

So be it.

I will go no farther.

Come, my daughter.

My work is done.

Goodbye, dear Thaïs.

Rest alone in your narrow cell.

Repent for your sins.

Pray for me at every hour.

I kiss your hand.

I weep to leave you... who gave me to God.

Such sweet words!

Blessed tears!

Happy the sinner who finds eternal life.

Her face is transfigured.

Her eyes shine with joy.

Farewell, forever.


We shall meet again in Heaven.

Slowly, she takes her place
with her chaste sisters.

The palms incline their branches... shade her from the sun.

The days, the years will pass.

I'll never see her again.

I'll never see her again!

The sky is heavy.

Not a creature stirs in the heat.

A jackal cries in the distance.

A terrible storm is about to break.

Let us seek shelter.

Gather in our grain, our fruit.

The wind will scatter them.

Athanaël...has anyone seen him?

In the twenty days since his return...

...he has taken no food, no water.

His battle with Hell...

...has broken his body and his soul.

Here he comes.

His thoughts are far away.

He is with God.

Respect his silence.

Leave him in peace.

Remain with me.

I must confess the anguish of my soul.

You know, Palémon...

...that I won the soul of Thaïs.

Proud of my triumph...

...I came back... the desert.

But I can no longer find peace.

In vain I tear my flesh.

In vain I punish my body.

I am possessed by a demon.

Her beauty haunts my visions.

I see nothing but Thaïs.

Not merely Thaïs...

...but Helen, Venus....

Every temptation of the flesh...

...gathered in a single body.

I see nothing but Thaïs.

Did I not warn you...

...about meddling in worldly matters?

Why did you leave us?


May God help you.

Why so severe?

How can you deny the fire
that burns in you?

Why do you reject your nature?

Man was made for love.

You are sadly mistaken.

Satan, get back!

My flesh burns!

Come, defy Venus if you dare!

A saint is leaving the earth.

Thaïs of Alexandria is dying.

Thaïs, dying?

How can life go on?

Where is the good in anything?

I must see her, hold her, protect her.

I must get her back!

She will be mine!

Lord, have mercy on me.

Show me Your kindness.

Wash away my iniquity.

Show me Your compassion.

God is calling her.

Tonight, the shroud will cover her face.

For three months she has kept vigil...

...praying and weeping.

Her body has been ravaged...

Her sins have been washed away.

Lord, have mercy on me.

Show me Your kindness.

You are welcome...

...Holy Father.

You must have come... bless the holy woman you gave to us.

Having followed your teachings...

...she will have eternal life.

Lord, have mercy on me.

Show me Your kindness.

Father, it's you!

Do you remember our journey...

...when you brought me here?

I remember only your kindness.

Do you remember the cool oasis?

I remember only my thirst for you.

Do you remember your holy words...

...words of the one true love?

Those words were lies.

I see the dawn....

I was wrong!

There are the roses,
roses that never fade....

There is no Heaven.

Nothing is real but earthly love.

I love you.

The heavens open.

I see angels, prophets, saints.

They welcome me, smiling...

...their hands filled with flowers.

Listen, my beloved....

Two seraphim with white wings....

You are mine!

There, in the heavens...


I love you!

Just as you said, He dries my tears.

Tell me you will live!

I hear enchanted harps.

I breathe sweet perfume.

I feel exquisite bliss.

I love you!

All suffering is put to rest.

The gates of Heaven...

...I see the face of God....

Lord, have mercy!