Like Rysanek or Supervia, Doria is the kind of rule-breaking law-unto-herself vocalist that student singers tend not to "get." But once you fall under her spell, just try to forget her utterance of "Ose venir, toi qui braves Vénus," or the dynamic contrast she achieves in the mirror aria.
Michel Sénéchal, in his lyric days, serves up more vocal charm than any other French Nicias.
Though she is effective in quieter passages, her voice turns acidulous under any pressure and at full volume proves a genuine paint-peeler.
She mercifully leaves out any sallies up to high D.
During this "Massenet decade," vehicles with which creatrix Sibyl Sanderson had conquered Paris, Esclarmonde and Thaïs - starring, respectively, the two leading coloratura superstars of the era, Joan Sutherland and Beverly Sills - caused sensations at San Francisco Opera.
After Fleming, Esposito - all of twenty-five when this 1959 recording was made - exhibits the most purely beautiful voice of any recorded Thaïs.
She has a bewitching native fluency in phrasing words and music that is extremely compelling.
Ira Siff has written eloquently (OPERA NEWS, October 1999) about the very France-specific art of Doria.
Thaïs showcases her virtues - imaginative musicianship, remarkable verbal expressiveness, the ability to float the voice - and her peculiarities (a very forward, super-resonant placement and a tendency to scoop).