Opera Scotland

Thais and Talmaae

Music

Colin Macleod Campbell (born Argyll 1890; died London 1953)

Text

C Harold Bourne

Source

Novel (1890) by Anatole France (Anatole-François Thibault 1844-1924)

 

Premieres

First Performance: Manchester (), 13 September 1921.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 24 March 1923.

 

Background

Colin Campbell composed two operas, a brief one-act piece, Thais and Talmaae, premiered in 1921, and a full-length work, Maid Marian, based on the Robin Hood legend.

The first is a brief drama derived from the same Anatole France novel used by Massenet in 1894. The Glasgow Herald, in reviewing the single Scottlsh performance, said 'The design of the work is restricted but it has been carried out with a great deal of dramatic colour. While parts of it seem to lack chesion, the major portion of it was significantly scored.'

The second piece was scheduled for performance in London in 1939, but the formal premiere was cancelled because of the outbreak of war. It was given a run-through then, but only received a stage premiere in 1955, after the composer's death.

 

Characters

Thais, a courtesan (soprano).

Talmaae, a priest (tenor).

 

Plot Summary

The review in the Glasgow Herald of Monday, 26 March gives a succinct summary of events. 'The theme of the opera is Thais's revulsion at the life of a courtesan and her desire for more spiritual love. She seeks the help of the priest, Talmaae, but he avowing his own passion she stabs him in order to save his soul, and then stabs herself.'

The Cast

Talmaae
 a priest
Thais
 a courtesan

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