Peabody Opera presents double bill of fanciful Poulenc, Ravel works
Peabody Opera has been on a French kick this season. Judging by the fine production of Massenet's "Manon," things ought to be quite interesting when the company turns this week to a really great pair of unusual works -- Ravel's "L'enfant et les sortileges" (The Child and the Sorceries) and Poulenc's
"Les mamelles de Tiresias" (The Breasts of Tiresias). Performances are Wednesday through Saturday.
The 1944 Poulenc opera isn't quite as, um, titillating as it sounds, but is stacked with fabulous surrealist fancies. Based on a play by Apollinaire, the work tells of a wife who changes her gender and her husband, who gives birth to more than 40,000 children in one day. Amid all the nonsense, the music conveys a subtle eulogy to a France devastated by two world wars.
Ravel's prismatic opera, with a libretto by Colette, deals with a nasty kid prone to hurting animals and things. He gets his comeuppance when his victims, including a clock, a tea cup, a tree and a poor cat, come to life. In the end, the boy develops a conscience and a heart.
Here's a snippet of the Poulenc piece to get you in the mood for Peabody Opera's cool double bill: