Les Mamelles de Tiresias (The Breasts of Tiresias)

If you’re thinking of the classics; The Phantom of the Opera, Madame Butterfly or L’Orfeo you will find yourself in the wrong venue. Directed by Cathy Hunt and musically directed by Simon Bruckard, Lyric’s production of Les Mamelles de Tiresias is a modern spin on the 1940 opera bouffe (comic opera) originally written by Francis Poulenc.

This intimate performance at the Little Chapel off Chapel in Prahran, provides a typically Melbourne evening with a French heritage. Located in an alleyway with minimalistic sets paying tribute to its French origins, this historic comedy is performed with the utmost contemporary relevance. All those thinking about dabbling in their first operatic experience or the most seasoned of attendees can enjoy a night out.

The charismatic and fabulous Dolly Diamond welcomed us with a hilarity which was endearing and wonderfully engaging. Dolly’s warm and vibrant persona welcomes the audience in a way which sets the tone for one of the standout themes – gender roles and what it means to be a women.

Lyrics Les Mamelles de Tiresias – literally translated means The Breasts of Teresa, debunks and unravels the role which women have traditionally dominated in society- child bearing and domestically relegated. Within the plays first act and opening scenes, we were at once exposed to the switch of gender identities between Teresa and her husband.

As the opera unravels the talented cast led by Kate Macfarlane as Teresa and her husband Raphael Wong exposed us to so many breast shaped balloons with hilarious proportions varying in colours and sizes.

We first meet Tiresias scrubbing floors and ruing her life as a humble housewife.
Tired of being seen in this light she yearns for something more. Her breasts inflating and subsequently bursting out of her blouse floating off into the dark, a hilarious symbol of her freedom from her womanhood as she longs her right to choose her responsibilities.

The audience are taken on a hilarious, lighthearted journey of gender transformations as Teresa’s husband is left to procreate without the help of his wife. Taking up the feminine role and bypassing traditional conception he creates his own brood of 40,049 little ones, each designed to fill a specific role in society, the results not always perfect!

The show invokes mostly genial and comic emotions all the while making the audience question the roles society has in the past deemed the norm for both its male and female occupants alike – and all of those who may identify in between.

Culminating in a boisterous crescendo filled with majestic inflated mammaries, it is a light hearted and enjoyable way to spend an hour either before or after a delicious meal somewhere along the wonders of Chapel street.

Review by Natasha Abbey.

The Deets

What: Les Mamelles de Tiresias

When: April 7-14

Where: The Loft at Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran.

More info: https://chapeloffchapel.com.au/show/les-mamelles-de-tiresias

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