Which proves to be the stronger urge, the desire for redemption and forgiveness for sins, or the lustful passions hidden deep inside? In ancient Egypt, a beautiful and seductive courtesan named Thaïs has captivated the city of Alexandria with her charm. At the same time, the monk Athanaël decides Thaïs needs to reform and turn to a life of religious devotion and piety. However, the monk becomes obsessed with the eroticism of this courtesan. Will the courtesan find religion and salvation, or will the monk give in to his lustful urges and compromise his own virtue for this fallen woman?
The opera includes the moving aria “Dis-moi que je suis belle” (Tell me that I am beautiful) and one of the most beautiful orchestral pieces in all classical music, the intermezzo for solo violin and orchestra in Act II, known as the Meditation.