Laurent Pelly's Les Mamelles de Tirésias. Photo: Bill Cooper (detail) View full image

Five-star reviews for Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne Poulenc

Laurent Pelly's double bill of Poulenc’s La voix humaine and Les mamelles de Tirésias, for which he co-designed costumes with Jean-Jacque Delmotte, opened at Glyndebourne on Saturday and has received excellent reviews.

‘Dig out your glad rags, pack up a picnic and beg, borrow or steal a ticket to Glyndebourne’s latest offering, a Poulenc double bill that will first turn you into an emotional wreck then have you laughing all the way home. There’s not a foot put wrong by the cast or the conductor Robin Ticciati and the director Laurent Pelly, who dreamt up an evening in which the tragic telephone monologue La voix humaine is followed by the surreal gender-bending farce of Les mamelles de Tirésias — and, yes, that’s the one with the exploding balloon breasts... Pelly makes sure that we’re always laughing with the characters not at them. The whole excellent ensemble’s comic timing is spot-on, the detail of the mischievous direction delicious, whether that’s sliding singers, playful perspective changes or an unexpectedly hilarious crowd of puppet babies... I would go back to hear it all again tomorrow if I could.’


The Times

‘Glyndebourne's final offering of the season is both scintillatingly brilliant in its own right and something of a trailer for next summer's major production. Between this compact new double bill of La Voix humaine and Les Mamelles de Tirésias and the altogether bigger Dialogues des Carmélites due next June, the Sussex house is presenting the complete operas of Francis Poulenc – a rarer experience than might be imagined. Based on Jean Cocteau and Guillaume Apollinaire respectively, the two short operas could hardly be more Gallic in spirit. Glyndebourne reinforces this by engaging largely French casts and the sought-after French director Laurent Pelly, who proposes no connection between the works yet finds satisfyingly complementary aesthetics to unite them... the production is wittily original, especially in its coup de théâtre conjuring up all those babies.’


The Telegraph

‘Fifty minutes of undiluted hilarity in the hands of director Laurent Pelly... Pelly’s staging and Caroline Ginet’s set designs are packed with surprises, from the giant sheet that turns the whole stage into Thérèse’s marital bed, to the slides which shift characters smoothly sideways on and off stage, to brilliantly coloured costumes with matching face paint, to the Husband’s glorious Heath Robinson baby-making machine... You know that a farce is working when it’s obvious that every cast member is having a ball... the most fun I’ve had in an opera house in a very long time.’


‘The strength of Pelly’s production lies in the fact that it does not merely play the opera for comic effect, but rather as a piece of genuinely absurdist drama so that the laughs are kept in balance with the social commentary.’


Music OMH

‘Pairing Poulenc’s one-acters La Voix Humaine and Les Mamelles de Tirésias allows Laurent Pelly to explore opposite extremes of emotion and desire in this passionate, full-blooded and hilarious staging that is superbly sung and played.’


The Guardian

‘For the visuals and the sheer zest alone, Pelly’s production deserves to become a Glyndebourne classic, like the Hockney/Cox Rake’s Progress... I can’t imagine Les Mamelles de Tirésias being done better. It’s basically a zinger, all the more piquant coming after La Voix humaine... Tirésias sends your spirits bouncing up and away like an untethered helium balloon into the Sussex night sky.’

The Spectator

Read audience reactions to the performances.

Find out about Laurent Pelly’s previous Glyndebourne productions.

Laurent Pelly discusses Poulenc

Images from Laurent Pelly's Poulenc Double Bill at Glyndebourne. Photos: Bill Cooper