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Vida breve La vida breve; A Short Life

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Manuel de Falla (Born Cádiz, 23 November 1876; died Alta Gracia, Argentina, 14 November 1946)


Carlos Fernández Shaw



Composed 1904

First Performance: Nice (Casino Municipal), 1 April 1913.

First Performance in UK: Edinburgh (King's Theatre), 9 September 1958.



Falla's best-known opera is, as the title suggests, short. However it contains some excellent dramatic music, even if the badly structured libretto creates a difficulty for it making a dramatic effect. It was created for an operatic competition, which it won, but Spanish managements were not at first keen to stage it. It was eventually produced in Nice, in French. That success led to equally acclaimed performances in Paris. It was only after these that the original Spanish text was performed in Madrid in 1914, when the success was repeated.


Main Characters

Salud, in love with Paco (soprano)

Grandmother (mezzo-soprano)

Paco, a young villager (tenor)

Uncle Sarvaor (bass)

Manuel, Carmela's brother (baritone)

Carmela, engaged to Paco (mezzo-soprano)

Singer (baritone)


Plot Summary

Salud, having been seduced by Paco, is warned by her grandmother not to get too involved. As Paco arrives and swears his love for Salud, her uncle tells her grandmother that the rumour they had heard is true, and Paco is to marry a more eligible girl.

At night,in the home of Manuel and Carmela, preparations are in hand for her wedding to Paco, with lively dance music and a ballad singer. Salud, accompanied by her grandmother and uncle, mourns her wretchedness. As the ceremony is about to take place, Salud advances on Paco and denounces his falsehood. She then drops dead at his feet.

The Cast

 Salud's grandmother
 engaged to Paco
Distant Voice
Flamenco Singer
 Carmela's brother
 Salud's lover
 a gypsy, in love with Paco
Uncle Salvador
 Salud's uncle
 from the Forge

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