Discover Humor at the Deep End in Double Bill of Surreal Comedies

Part I of the double bill, “The Breasts of Tiresias” stars Robin Buck as the Husband and Ani Maldjian as His Wife Therese/Tiresias.

Are men really from Mars and women from Venus? Find out whether the gender war can ever be won (or whether it should be) when Long Beach Opera offers a wacky but perceptive look at the feminine psyche seen through surreal eyes. Sung in English with English supertitles and staged at the intimate Center Theater in Long Beach, French composer Francis Poulenc’s The Breasts of Tiresias and Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu’s Tears of a Knife will confound, provoke, enchant, and amuse.

In The Breasts of Tiresias, the sexes trade places on the French Riviera when bored, submissive housewife Therese 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 removes 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 on the French Riviera, this exuberant comedy pits men against women in a wild battle of the sexes with comments on feminism and pacifism thrown into the mix. Poulenc’s score highlights the action on stage with a variety of theatrical and musical styles including jazz, cabaret, and dance.

In Martinu’s rarely performed Tears of a Knife, opera clichés are twisted around, nothing is as it seems, and the world spins out of control in a madcap, dada romp. Searching for Mr. Right, ever-romantic bachelorette Eleonore looks for love in the wrong places; disheartened, commits suicide; returns to life; and, unswayed, continues her search for the perfect man. Blocking her way at every turn is Eleonore’s mother, a formidable sexual rival, while their next-door neighbor, a passing bicyclist, and a hanged man are not whom they appear to be. 1920’s jazz and dance music color the haunting score.

Ken Roht (Orphean Circus) directs and Ani Maldjian, Robin Buck, and Suzan Hanson star, with sculptures and masks by Wen Wen Hsu. Don’t miss the fun on Sunday, March 11, at 2 p.m. and Saturday, March 17, at 8 p.m. at the Center Theater located at 300 E Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach, conveniently located near the 710 Freeway. Tickets are $29 to $150. Buy them at (562) 432-5934 or online at www.longbeachopera.org/tickets.

Coming in May 2012, watch opera outdoors when LBO stages Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, an ode to Spanish playwright and poet Federica Garcia Lorca. And, in June 2012, see the world’s first neurological opera, Michael Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

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