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|La vida breve (Life is Short or The Brief Life) is an opera in two acts and four scenes by Manuel de Falla to an original Spanish libretto by Carlos Fernández-Shaw. Local (Andalusian) dialect is used. The first performance was given (in a French translation by Paul Millet) at the Casino Municipal in Nice on 1 April 1913. Paris and Madrid performances followed, later in 1913 and in 1914 respectively.|
Only an hour long, the complete opera is seldom performed today, but its orchestral sections are, especially the act 2 music published as Interlude and Dance, which is popular at concerts of Spanish music. (Fritz Kreisler in 1926 arranged for violin and piano the dance from this pairing under the spurious title Danse espagnole.) Indeed the opera is unusual for having nearly as much instrumental music as vocal: act 1, scene 2 consists entirely of a short symphonic poem (with distant voices) called Intermedio, depicting sunset in Granada; act 2, Scene 1 includes the above-referenced Danza and Interludio, with the latter ending the scene, i.e. in the opposite sequence to the excerpted pairing; and act 2, scene 2 begins with the a second and longer Danza (with vocal punctuation).
The role of Salud is central to the action. It has been sung by, among others, soprano Victoria de los Ángeles, mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza, mezzo Martha Senn, and, more recently, soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domâs.
MANUEL DE FALLA (BIOGRAPHY)
Falla was born as Manuel María de los Dolores Falla y Matheu in Cádiz. He was the son of José María Falla y Franco and María Jesús Matheu y Zabal. His early teachers in music were his mother and grandfather; at the age of nine he was introduced to his first piano professor, Eloísa Galluzo. Little is known of that period of his life, but his relationship with his teacher was soon ended after she decided to then enter in a convent, Sisters of Charity, to become a nun. In 1889 he continued his piano lessons with Alejandro Odero and learned the techniques of harmony and counterpoint from Enrique Broca. At age 15 he became interested in literature and journalism and founded the literary magazines El Burlón and El Cascabel. In 1893 he was inspired by a concert of Edvard Grieg's works, later saying that at the time he felt that "my definitive vocation is music".
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