Please note: This concert is in the past and has already taken place.


Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park
Rye Lane

SE15 4TG


Francis PoulencThe Breasts of Tiresias


Timothy Burke – Conductor
Polly Graham – stage director

Loud Crowd

Programme Note

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 of a new translation by Polly Graham and Tim Burke.

Image by Nate Gibson

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