Manuel de Falla’s 1913 two act opera, La vida breve (“Life is Short”), is rarely performed today. Set in Granada, it tells the story of a young gypsy girl, Salud, who falls in love with the wealthy and seductive Paco. Despite their vow of eternal love, Paco abandons Salud to marry a woman of his own social class to whom he was already engaged. At the end of Paco’s wedding reception, he denies knowing Salud and orders that she be ejected. Heartbroken, she falls dead at his feet.
One breezy melody from the opera’s second act endures. It comes from an orchestral Interlude and Dance. This music was popularized by the violinist Fritz Kreisler’s 1926 arrangement for violin and piano, published under the title, Spanish Dance No. 1. Here is Kreisler’s 1938 recording with pianist Franz Rupp:
Interlude and Dance
La vida breve is a brief, hour-long opera. Formally, it is unusual in that there is nearly as much purely orchestral music as vocal. Here is the original Interlude and Dance, performed by Jesus Lopez-Cobos and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra:
Featured Image: Fritz Kreisler