The Breasts of Tiresias by Francis Poulenc is an opera based on the eponymous play by Guillaume Apollinaire. Originally composed in 1945, It is a burlesque gender bending comedy: Thérèse gives up her female identity, cuts off her breasts, joins the army and rails against childbirth. Her husband, terrified that there will be no children in the future, seeks a way of procreating himself; he ends up with a surplus of babies. The opera ends with a reunion of husband and wife, and a message to the audience: “go make children not war!”.
The Breasts of Tiresias is an opera about gender and power. It examines the meaning of fertility in a post cataclysmic continent, and tests how traditional gender structures can shift in the wake of war. This is a rehearsed reading.
is Founder and Artistic Director of Loud Crowd. In 2017 Polly founded Loud Crowd to deliver high-quality, innovative opera and music theatre work that reaches out to new audiences.
Loud Crowd and Bold Tendencies are entering the second year of a collaboration which aims to excite new audiences through the presentation of opera in Bold Tendencies’ car park home.
For 2019, Loud Crowd will return for a residency in our straw auditorium, working with a company of distinguished soloists to develop its production of The Emperor of Atlantis and present a new version of The Breasts of Tiresias.
About Polly Graham, Artistic Director
As a freelance director Polly Graham has worked at ENO, Glyndebourne Education, Buxton Festival, Grimeborn, RWCMD, Independent Opera, Teatro San Carlo, San Francisco Opera, Theater St Gallen, RADA, WNYO, WNO, Opera Sonic, Blackheath Halls Community Opera, the National Opera Studio, and the Fondazione Haydn in Italy. Her work has been widely acknowledged. In 2017 Polly founded Loud Crowd to deliver high-quality, innovative opera and music theatre work that reaches out to new audiences. Loud Crowd makes opera an art-form which expresses and responds to contemporary social, philosophical and political issues, contributing to public discourse and offering a cultural voice for our time.
Image credit: Nate Gibson