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Ted Huffman director
Samal Blak set and costume designer
Marcus Doshi lighting designer
Soloists from the Britten–Pears Young Artist Programme
Malcolm Martineau, Roger Vignoles piano
Poulenc arr. Britten Les mamelles de Tirésias
Vichy France in 1944 was not the most likely backdrop for a new one-act opera-bouffe involving gender confusion, balloon breasts and the stern command ‘Ô Français, faites des enfants!’ (‘O Frenchmen, make babies!’).
Its appearance at the Jubilee Hall in late 1950s Aldeburgh can have caused no less of a surprise, notwithstanding Poulenc’s evident enthusiasm in a letter to Britten ‘… I want to see Peter in a dress’.
Originally, the two composers were to have played for the production in an arrangement of the orchestral score for two pianos Britten made specially for the performance. In the event, Poulenc had a cold and his part was played by Viola Tunnard.
Whimsical, funny and an authentic, rare slice of a more private Britten than was often revealed in public, his version of Les Mamelles is the perfect showcase for young singers from the Britten–Pears Young Artist Programme alongside two longstanding pillars of the contemporary Aldeburgh ‘family’ on piano. Ted Huffman directs.
This project is supported by the Scarfe Charitable Trust. It has also received funding from the European Network of Opera Academies with support from the European Commission.
The Britten–Pears Young Artist Programme is generously supported by
Tickets £24, £18 Under 27s half price
Peter Pears (the Husband) in Francis Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tiresias, Aldeburgh Festival, June 1958. Photographer: Kurt Hutton, courtesy of the Britten–Pears Foundation.