Opera in NYC: Thaïs at the Metropolitan Opera

Opera in NYC: Thaïs at the Metropolitan Opera

An eternal tale of seduction and religious devotion 

Metropolitan Opera NYC November Thais faith seduction
By Manuel Orazi – Gallica, Public Domain

MetOpera revival of Thaïs production from 2008 is a passionate story about love and faith aptly delivered by Ailyn Perez in the title role and Gerald Finley as Athanaël, the holy monk. It is centered on a timeless struggle between the allure of the flesh and the piety of the spirit. The narrative and the score are charged with high emotions and endless desperation in search of harmony and salvation accentuated by Massenet’s highly recognized Meditation, the entr’acte for violin and orchestra.

Jules Massenet (1842-1912) wrote his wildly popular opera Thaïs, a comédie lyrique when his career as the most prolific French operatic composer was already well established. Thaïs has premiered at Opera Garnier in Paris in 1894 and gained widespread recognition shortly after at its first revival four years later. A libretto by Louis Gallet was based on the novel of the same title by Anatole France (1844-1924), a French poet, journalist and novelist. While Massenet’s other operas, Manon and Werther, are among the most performed, Thaïs holds its place for its exotic musical renditions, curious historical elements and the depth of emotions.

Metropolitan Opera NYC November Thais faith seduction
A scene from Act III of Massenet Tha•is, 
Photo: Ken Howard / Image courtesy of Metropolitan Opera

Anatole France’s story of the rich courtesan living in Alexandria, Egypt in around 4th century AD followed a legend known in Christian literature as the life of Saint Thaïs of Egypt. A servant of goddess Venus, she used her sensuality to seduce an ascetic Cenobite monk who was persuading Thaïs in his own efforts to convert her to Christianity. The plot is revolving around a power play between the earthy pleasures and a blind faith. And while in France’s story the Christian devotion takes a firm hold on the volatile spirit of a former sinner ultimately leading to her repentance and a vision of heaven, it could be interpreted as a dead-end in itself. On the other hand, the very earthy feelings awaken in the heart of a former monk, are showing a passage to real experiences and with that a possibility of reawakening. Some of the former productions of the opera led to a controversy around religious eroticism and irreversible tenets of belief. The role of Thaïs, which is notoriously difficult to sing, was written by Massenet for an American soprano Sibyl Sanderson. 
Metropolitan Opera NYC November Thais faith seduction

To get in the spirit of this opera consider a majestic rendition of Massenet’s Meditation by Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott.


A memorable performance of Thaïs on the MetOpera stage in 2008 season with Renee Fleming in the title role and Thomas Hampson as the desperate Athanaël, is released by Decca records.


Date and Discounted Tickets with the code TICKETS3:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Venue: Met Opera, Lincoln Center, NY 

With the NewYorkPass your can enjoy a free tour of the historic Lincoln Center and much more!

Metropolitan Opera NYC November Thais faith seduction

Art in NYC: Leonardo to Matisse Drawings at the Met Museum

Art in NYC: Leonardo to Matisse Drawings at the Met Museum

Master Drawings from the Robert Lehman Collection

Leonardo to Matisse Met Museum master drawings Robert Lehman collection
Albrecht Dürer,
Self-portrait, Study of a Hand and a Pillow (recto),1493 / Image courtesy of the Met Museum

Intimate and insightful survey of European drawings from the Renaissance to Early Modernism is on view at the Met Museum on October 4, 2017 – January 7, 2018. The works are selected from the collection of Robert Lehman who spent six decades on building his fast art assemblage with 700 sheets of drawings complementing his father’s collection of paintings.  Leonardo to Matisse show comprises of 4 sections dedicated to Italian Renaissance, Dutch and German drawings from 15th to 17th centuries, the 18th and 19th century works from Italy and France, and ending with Impressionists and Early Modernists.

The exhibition is organized in the chronological progression mirroring the establishment of the medium as a fully developed form of creative expression. It begins with the pieces by Italian Renaissance masters covering the time when the medium of drawing was starting to claim its rights. From sketches and quick studies of compositions and gestures, it had progressed to the finished works prized by patrons and collectors. Giorgio Vasari, a painter, and art-historian who defined our appreciation of the drawing and its foundational place in art was among the first collectors. One of the pieces from his collection by Antonio Pollaiuolo is on view now at the Met. Vasari’s book “Live of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects” first time published in 1550 is still a great source for art-historians and history buffs. Vasari dedicated his book to Grand Duke Cosimo I De’Medici. Medici’s patronage of the arts helped to speed up the Renaissance.

Leonardo to Matisse Met Museum master drawings Robert Lehman collection
Rembrandt, The Last Supper, after Leonardo da Vinci, 1634–35 / Image courtesy of the Met Museum

An extremely detailed sketch of a bear by Leonardo is an example of the artist’s keen technique and close observation of the world around him. Leonardo kept copious notebooks full of sketches and momentous studies as well as in-depth engineering designs and scientific research. The New Yorker preview of the recently published biography “Leonardo Da Vinci” by W. Isaacson notes a point made by Isaacson about Leonardo’s tendency to rush and abandon his projects. The medium of drawing with its fast pace seems to be an ideal one for someone endlessly on the creative move.

The next section in the exhibition is dedicated to the Northern Europeans from 15th through 17th centuries. From delicate portraits to scenes from everyday life, the works on view are by Jan van Eyck and his circle, Rogier van der Weyden and his workshop with an allegorical scene used as a prep for sculptural work, and a fascinating study by Rembrandt of Leonardo’s Last Supper done in red chalk. German masters are represented by amazing pieces including a self-portrait and highly textured sketches of household items, in this case, pillows by Albrecht Durer.

Moving to 18th and 19th century Italian and French works, the show presents fine examples of new highs in using pen, ink, wash and other material to convey the story and emotions. Works by Tiepolo, Giambattista, Goya, Corot, Watteau and Fragonard introduce new techniques and highly refined skills.

Leonardo to Matisse Met Museum master drawings Robert Lehman collection
Antoine Watteau, Seated Woman, 1716–17 / Image courtesy of the Met Museum

The last section is dedicated to the Impressionists and Modernists ranging from Degas to Seurat to Matisse. The drawings on view give a window into artists’ minds letting us see how they developed the subjects of the future paintings. All alone the drawings are taking a deserved place as a form of art with all its power and thought-provoking allure.

The exhibition will delight every art lover!

For museum hours and more click here.

Enjoy your free visit to the Met museum with NewYorkPass!


Venue: The Met Museum on Fifth Avenue       

Time: October 4, 2017 – January 7, 2018

Art in NYC: Delirious Art at the Met Breuer

Art in NYC: Delirious Art at the Met Breuer

Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980 on view September 13, 2017 – January 14, 2018 

Metropolitan Museum exhibition Delirious Andy Warhol Yayoi Kusama
In-Out Anthropophagy by Anna Maria Maiolino, Super-8 film 1973 / Image Courtesy of the Met Museum

The expansive show of the post-WWII art at the Met Breuer under an ambitious title Delirious: Art at the Limit of Reason promises to spin your head. And it surely does! The exhibition includes the works of such luminaries of contemporary art as Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, Eva Hesse, and Sol LeWitt among others. In all, about 100 pieces of art primarily from Europe, Latin America, and the US are organized under 4 loose categories: Vertigo, Excess, Nonsense, and Twisted. The visitors will encounter the generous labels about the subject and countersubject depicted in a particular work. This gentle guidance by the experts helps to appreciate fully the points made by the artists with all the twists and eccentricity entailed.

Metropolitan Museum exhibition Delirious Andy Warhol Yayoi Kusama
Electric Chair by Andy Warhol, Screenprint 1971 / Image courtesy of the Met Museum

The curatorial introduction to the show gives the meaning of the word delirious in its medical sense and points to the turbulence of the post-wartime as a leading factor that either caused or led to stimulating that state of mind. As science and technology were accelerating its hold on everyday life and encroaching on one’s perception of reality, they got their place in the contemporary art as seemingly endless repetitive sequences of shapes, colors, and sounds. In fact, in some sense, the most delirious effect of the exhibition is from its soundtrack.

A review by Roberta Smith in the New York Times notes that given the pressure of the Cold War and the uncertainties of the time the “artists answered life’s absurdities with more of the same”.

It is curious to note the fluidity between the rational use of certain technical and mathematical concepts and their irrational derivations cleverly observed by the artists. Some examples of those effects are topographical representations of Steiner Surfaces by Ruth Vollmer, Study of Distortion by Agnes Denes, or Color Motion 4-64 by Edna Andrade. In other cases seemingly simple everyday actions are transformed by endless repetition to stunning visual and sound effects in Cycles of 3s and 7s by Tony Conrad and several works by Sol LeWitt.

Metropolitan Museum exhibition Delirious Andy Warhol Yayoi Kusama
Snap Roll by Dean Fleming, Acrylic on canvas 1965 / Image courtesy of the Met Museum

Another interesting aspect of the show is its focus on the influence of the writings by Samuel Beckett on the artists. It’s not a coincidence as the show had preceded by 5 years of research into the perception of Beckett’s plays by the experimental artists. The exhibition also highlights a connection between the artistic expression and the social and political environment of the moment.

While it may feel by some that the exhibition skipped some of the work that could clearly belong there, it helps to keep in mind how productive the sphere of art was in the post-war time. This carefully selected sample of works is only scratching the surface of the oeuvre in the category feeding the appetite to see more.

Metropolitan Museum exhibition Delirious Andy Warhol Yayoi Kusama
Jazzmen by Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé,Torn posters mounted on canvas,1961 / Image courtesy of the Met Museum

With the NewYorkPass your can enjoy a free visit to the Met Breuer!


Venue: The Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, NY

Dates: September 13, 2017 – January 14, 2018

Nightlife in NYC: Music nights with Mark Berman and Friends

Nightlife in NYC: Music nights with Mark Berman and Friends

Unforgettable music nights with Mark Berman at Pangea Club: Next event is on December 4, 2017

jazz club East Village NYC Pangea piano Mark Berman
Mark Berman; photo credit Sandrine Lee

Gentle strokes of piano keys, sensible and precise bass section, intimate atmosphere of a downtown music club are what you will find at Pangea on the music nights with Mark Berman. The master at the piano will fill the room with the first-rate jazz that might remind you a dreamy Paris café somewhere close to Sorbonne with the young and the old mixing together for a night of musical delicacies over tasty drinks. The welcoming setting of the club may even inspire you to take a turn at the mic as the night key feature is an open mic in a warm company of friends. Singers who are planning to use sheet music are asked to bring two copies with you for Mark and his friends.

jazz club East Village NYC Pangea piano Mark Berman
Mark Berman; photo credit Sandrine Lee

Berman, a well-known pianist, composer and arranger, has performed and recorded with who’s who of jazz, pop and rock from Aretha Franklin to Wycliffe Gordon and many others. He has written and produced music for television and film including Sex in the City, Nurse Jackie and more. Berman has also been a powerful presence on Broadway, where he has conducted orchestras for Rent, Smokey Joe’s Cafe and Blood Brothers, and played lead piano/keyboards on Bullets Over Broadway, The Boy from Oz and many other popular plays. He is a graduate of Hartt School of Music.

Pangea, located in the heart of East Village in NYC, is truly a downtown oasis of great music, good food, and tasty drinks.

You can reserve your seats for the night here or pay at the doors.

Venue: Pangea Club, 178 2nd Ave, New York, NY

Dates: First Monday of the month; next event is on December 4, 2017 


Music in NYC: Andrea Bocelli at Madison Square Garden

Music in NYC: Andrea Bocelli at Madison Square Garden

Discounted Tickets to the Christmas-themed concerts on December 13 and December 14, 2017

Italian Opera Singer Andrea Bocelli Madison Square Garden New York CityAndrea Bocelli, an Italian classical and pop music singer returns to Madison Square Garden in New York City to celebrate the holidays with his fans and followers. Bocelli will be sharing a stage with the conductor Eugene Kohn, soprano Larisa Martinez, and guest artist Heather Headley.

Bocelli grew up in the village La Sterza in Tuscany, Italy just south of Pisa where his family had a farm. Andrea started playing music from age 6. He took piano lessons and later learned to play a flute, saxophone, drums among other instruments. At about the same age after listening to a record of Franco Corelli, he showed an interest in opera music. Starting from age 14 he began participating in the singing competitions which came to establish his fame and followers. A connection to Corelli continued with Andrea attending Corelli’s master class in Turin in 1986 and later taking private voice lessons with him.

While studying and graduating with Law degree from the University of Pisa, he continued to sing performing at the bars and making tape recordings. One such tape got the attention of Italian rock star Zucchero  who in 1992 was holding a tape competition among tenors for the recording of his song Miserere. Bocelli’s tape recoding of Miserere was shared with the best known Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who got very impressed with Bocelli’s singing. Bocelli was invited to perform in duets at Zucchero’s European tours. The duets from that tour including Miserere were released in 1994. That year the young singer became a sensation after winning a newcomer prize at Sanremo Music Festival. Pavarotti took a deep interest in Bocelli’s career and since then they sang in duets at multiple charity concerts around the world.
Italian Opera Singer Andrea Bocelli Madison Square Garden New York CityBocelli is recording prolifically. His discography already includes 16 operas, numerous collections of arias and songs and music videos. His latest opera recording, Aida, was released in 2016 after Turandot in 2015. It is interesting that the role of prince Calaf from Turandot was among Bocelli’s initial solo selections back in the early 1990s.

Italian Opera Singer Andrea Bocelli Madison Square Garden New York CityThe album Andrea Bocelli 2012 recording Opera: The Ultimate Collection includes the best arias by Verdi, Puccini, Bizet and others operatic masters.

The concert at Madison Square Garden will raise everyone’s holiday spirit and will surely include many Christmas classics and popular arias sang with utmost elegance and grace. With the NewYorkPass your can enjoy a free tour of the legendary MSG arena and more!

Planning a trip to NYC?

Dates and Discounted Tickets with the code TICKETS3:

December 13, 2017, 8pm 

December 14, 2017, 8pm 

Venue: Madison Square Garden, NY