Opera Profile: Manuel de Falla’s ‘La Vida Breve’

By David Salazar

“La Vida Breve” had its world premiere on April 1, 1913.

While it has never been a major staple of the repertory, many sections of Manuel de Falla’s famed opera are performed often. Many instrumental sections of the work have been arranged by other composers in different means as well.

Many Spanish artists such as Victoria de Los Angeles and Teresa Berganza have championed the opera, despite its intermittent performance record.

The opera itself lasts about an hour in length.

Short Plot Summary

The young gypsy Salud is in love with Paco, but he is engaged to a woman of his social class, though he hasn’t told Salud. She eventually learns the truth and looks to interrupt Paco’s wedding, but her grandmother and uncle stop her from going through with it.

Salud and he uncle do gatecrash the party and confront Paco, who throws her out. Broken-hearted, she dies at his feet.

Watch and Listen

Here is a recording featuring Victoria de Los Angeles, who championed the work throughout her career.


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