In short, this was a totally delightful evening, a near-triumph for Adelaide’s resident opera company. The sustained ovation by a near-capacity audience was well deserved. Such a pity there are to be only two performances. It deserves a season of at least a week.
On first glance, the coupling of Manuel de Falla’s La Vida Brevewith Puccini’s Gianni Schicchiseemed an odd, even unlikely prospect. On closer examination, it makes some deal of sense. Both are about an hour long. The dozen or so singers in Falla can readily migrate into the 16-member cast of the Puccini. The orchestra is about the same. Both operas were premiered close to each other: the Falla in Paris in 1913, the Puccini in New York in 1918. The ghost of Wagner hovers ominously over both, largely for satiric effect.
There have been even less likely combinations. Schicchihas been paired with La Bohème, Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castleand Rachmaninov’s The Miserly Knight. An American composer, Michael Ching, has even created a one-act sequel in English, Busco’s Ghost, which premiered in Pittsburgh in 1996. (Now, there’s an idea for an enterprising opera company…)