Opera bouffe en deux actes et un prologue

  • 2(pic).2(ca).2+bcl.2/2211/timp.perc/hp.pf/str
  • 2pf
  • Chorus
  • 5 Baritones, Bass, 3 Mezzo Sopranos, Soprano, 2 Tenors
  • 50 min

Programme Note

Les Mamelles de Tirésias was premiered on 3 June 1947 at the Paris Opéra Comique. Although the action of the opera is farcical, it contains a serious message: the need to rediscover and repopulate a country ravaged by war. Thérèse was a submissive woman and becomes the male Tirésias when her breasts turn into balloons and float away. Her husband is not pleased, still less when she ties him up and dresses him as a woman. Thérèse marches off to conquer the world as General Tiresias, leaving her captive husband to the attentions of the local gendarme, who is fooled by his female attire. General Tiresias starts a successful campaign against childbirth and is hailed by the populace. Fearful that France will be left sterile if women give up sex, the husband vows to find a way to bear children without women. He gives birth to 40,049 children in a single day. The gendarme now arrives to report that, because of overpopulation, the citizens of Zanzibar are all dying of hunger. The husband suggests getting ration cards printed by a tarot-reading fortune-teller. The fortune-teller prophesies that the fertile husband will be a multi-millionaire, but that the sterile gendarme will die in abject poverty. Incensed, the gendarme attempts to arrest her, but she strangles him and reveals herself as none other than Thérèse. The couple reconciles and the whole cast gathers at the footlights to urge the audience to procreate.


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