The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday June 7th

UNC Opera's ""Breasts of Tiresias"" explores gender

UNC Opera members will take opera beyond the stage today as they use their performance to explore contemporary gender roles.

The UNC Opera will perform Francis Poulenc's surrealist comedy ""The Breasts of Tiresias"" at 8 p.m. today and Saturday in Hill Hall auditorium.

The opera is part of Carolina Performing Arts' yearlong Gender Project" which explores and encourages discussion of the concept of gender in contemporary society.

This will be the UNC Opera's first performance of the year.

The opera centers on a woman who decides she is fed up with the male-dominated world in which she lives and goes off to war. Left for war by his wife the husband is forced to assume a motherly role even to the point of birthing his own children.

Sean Casserly a senior and stage director for the opera said with these themes in mind" the show will blur the male-female gender line.

""It's about what being a woman or being a man means and when those roles are reversed"" he said.

Since its 1947 premiere in France, The Breasts of Tiresias"" has received warm receptions despite its racy and strange content.

 ""It's a scintillating" charming effervescent kind of work" said Terry Rhodes, director of UNC Opera. It has a little bit of risqué content"" but it's playful.""

Rhodes said besides focusing on gender issues"" the opera also deals with repopulating a post World War II France.

""Its message is to make love" not war" she said.

The UNC Opera program is an elective, audition-only class offered to all students.

 Most of the students haven't been involved with operas" so for many of them it's a first-time experience" Rhodes said, adding that many students return each semester.

Rhodes said learning and performing The Breasts of Tiresias"" is meant to pose a challenge for her students.

""Not only is it a challenging musical work"" Rhodes said, it's also beautiful music that I knew would be accessible to a broad public and it fit the bill in terms of the conversation about gender.""

Casserly and Rhodes both said that while many people tend to avoid going to operas" this will be a quality" humorous performance for first-timers.

""It may seem to be a silly show"" Casserly said, but it is thought provoking.""

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