LBO to present Western U.S. premiere of 20th Century opera

The Long Beach Opera (LBO) has announced it will present a double-bill with The Breasts of Tiresias and Tears of a Knife as an exclusive engagement at the Long Beach Center Theater/ Long Beach Performing Arts Center on Sunday, March 11 at 2pm and Saturday, March 17 at 8pm.
The sexes trade places on the French Riviera in Francis Poulenc’s surreal comedy The Breasts of Tiresias, based on the 1917 play of the same name by Guillame Apollinaire. Is it a man’s world? Bored, submissive housewife Therese decides to find out for herself as she dreams of the many wonderful things she could do were she a man.
Turning the tables on the Greek myth of Tiresias, a prophet who became a woman for seven years, Therese disengages her breasts, becomes General Tiresias, and leaves home to fight wars on distant battlefields. Meanwhile, her stay-at-home husband copes by making babies on his own, 40,049 of them. Do these marriage partners really need each other? Set in the magical city of Zanzibar, this exuberant comedy pits men against women in a wild battle of the sexes with comments on feminism and pacifism thrown into the mix.
Of his classical “screwball” comedy, which contains a variety of theatrical and musical styles including jazz, cabaret and dance, Poulenc said, “I do believe I prefer this work to everything else I wrote…If people want to form an idea of my complex musical personality, they will find me quite exactly myself in [The Breasts of] Tirésias.”
Opera clichés are twisted around, nothing is as it seems, and the world spins out of control in the rarely performed work Tears of a Knife by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu and French dada, poet, playwright, and artist, Georges Ribermont-Dessaignes. Searching for the perfect husband, Eleonore looks for love in all the wrong places, commits suicide, and spontaneously returns to life. Unswayed, she continues her quest to find the right man. Blocking her way at every turn is Eleonore’s mother, a formidable sexual rival. In a series of surprises, her next-door neighbor, a passing bicyclist, and a hanged man are not whom they appear to be.
Regarded as one of the two Czech giants of 20th Century music, Janacek being the other, Martinu was a prolific, internationally known composer in the 1940s and ‘50s, and his compositions were performed around the world. This jazz opera is filled with the rhythms, harmonies and instruments of popular 1920s dance music. Although written in 1928, the work didn’t premiere until 1969 in Brno, Czechoslovakia, a decade after the composer’s death. In November 2002, the U.S. premiere took place in the French language version, Les Larmes du Couteau, by the Henry Street Chamber Opera (formerly the Gotham Chamber Opera). LBO will present the western U.S. premiere of Tears of A Knife and will be the first U.S. company to perform this dada romp in English.
“The Long Beach Opera pushes the boundaries of modern opera once again with their presentation of these this exceptional double-bill,” said Dan Spellens, director of Theaters & Entertainment for the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. “We are very pleased once again to welcome the Long Beach Opera to the Performing Arts Center.”
Tickets are on sale now at all TicketMaster outlets and the Long Beach Performing Arts Center Main Box Office. Ticket prices range from $29 to $150. To charge by phone, call TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or visit The box office is located at 300 E. Ocean Blvd. and is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm and Saturday from noon to 4pm. For season subscriptions, visit or call the LBO box office at (562) 432-5934.

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