A decade or so ago Opera North staged their groundbreaking “Eight Little Greats” season of operatic “shorts”. The operas were “mixed and matched” so that audiences could put together their own combination of Double Bill. The project was hailed as a revolution in opera going. As an artistic concept, the Eight Little Greats created some of the most exhilarating evenings that I can recall in well over three decades of attending Opera North performances. The complexities of a three-year planning cycle for this astonishing festival of short self-contained operas no doubt lie behind the reasons why the venture has sadly never been repeated. Christopher Alden‘s visceral production of De Falla’s disturbing two-act “mini” opera La vida breve was paired back in 2004 with either Puccini’s Il tabarro or Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf – all three of them unremittingly dark pieces. I remember Germaine Greer enthusing on BBC2’s Newsnight review at the time: “If you give a damn, then see La vida breve. It’s a staggering work and it is staggeringly presented and performed”.

LA VIDA BREVE_OPERA NORTH,Salud; Anne-Sophie Duprels,La abuela; Elizabeth Sikora,Carmela; Beth Mackay,Paco; Jesús Álvarez,Manuel;  Gavan Ring,Uncle Salvador;  Brian Bannatyne_Scott,Singer; Quirijn de Lang,

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