Cher Public

Outskirts

Has anyone made Balzac’s “Sarrasine” into an opera? That’s the tale of a French artist in Rome falling in love with an opera diva—who turns out to be a castrato en travestie. (Women were forbidden the stage in Pope-land.) The story is simple, an anecdote, but the MacGuffin of gender is kept writhing in the air by the diva’s fear of her lover’s fury should he learn that the appealingly feminine creature he loves is, in fact, a man. Kind of like M. Butterfly. Roland Barthes wrote a charming structuralist analysis of the possible improbabilities of this tale, S/Z, and it has been given as a play, with two women, one melodramatic, one hilarious, and a drag performer (the great Bette Bourne), all playing the diva. At once.   Read more »