Les Mamelles de TiresiasWhat do breasts, balloons and baritones have in common?

Lyric Opera of Melbourne’s 2018 season opens with Francis Poulenc’s wacky comedy Les Mamelles de Tiresias (The Breasts of Tiresias). In what must be the craziest opera to ever take to the stage, the heroine explores gender norms, biological constraints and even her own breasts!

The one-act, one-hour show opens as the dissatisfied and ambitious Therese frees herself of her breasts – which float away as two balloons – before departing to take over the world. Her emasculated husband is then forced to take over childbirth, notching up a remarkable 40,000 babies in just one day!

Composed in the 1940s and later arranged for cabaret performance by composer Benjamin Britten, Mamelles will be re-imagined in the ‘greed is good era of the early 1980s. Cathy Hunt makes her opera debut after taking part in Lyric’s 2017 Opera Director’s Workshop and brings to the company a wealth of experience from Melbourne’s thriving independent theatre scene.

“In Mamelles the surreal springs from the everyday. The inherent humour of the opera is truly liberating,” she said. “Lyric has given me the unique opportunity to seize this piece and creatively shake it up to reveal how it speaks to us right now.”

Poulenc’s music for Mamelles is a cocktail of opera, cabaret and burlesque, with the unusual accompaniment of two pianos. It will be sung in English under the music direction of Simon Bruckard, who describes the music as “just so much fun to play, to sing and of course, to listen to”. The design team includes the award-winning Lucy Wilkins (costume) and Bryn Cullen (lighting) with the company debut of Robert Alexander Smith (set).

The cast is led by rising star Kate Macfarlane as Therese with Sun Aria finalist Raphael Wong as her embattled but prodigiously fertile husband. The ensemble features several exciting young singers making their company debut as part of Lyric’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of opera stars.

This is opera up close, accessible and affordable. Lyric invites you to dress up in your best 80’s glam, get a glass of bubbles from the bar and enjoy a fabulous hour of singing, surrealism and shoulder pads!