On the latest Big COC Podcast you can hear Gianmarco Segato, Wayne Gooding, Paula Citron and I discuss, among other things, Sarasota Opera’s decision to put on Pagliacci without a companion piece. They are instead offering some instrumental pieces and an after party. They claim their audience has expressed a preference for shorter evenings at the opera. I was reminded of this by seeing de Falla’s La Vida Breve this afternoon. (You’ll have to wait for the next edition of Opera Canada for a review). This performance added a tribute to de Falla composed by the music director as a kind of prelude to round things out. So there were a couple of questions I wanted to explore. First off, do you feel cheated if the program is too short? If so how short is “too short”? Dido and Aeneas came up as a sort of test case. It’s barely an hour and often presented alone. I guess I do feel that’s a bit too short. For me, under 90 minutes feels too short. I think such works ought to be coupled. On the other hand the whole of Il Trittico seems like a lot to swallow in one evening and I can well see why Gianni Schicchi is often coupled with something else. Oddly, Salome is almost always done on its own though I’ve heard of it being coupled with Elektra or, somewhat bizarrely, Gianni Schicchi. So, second question, what pairings (or other kinds of programming) would you like to see? One thought I’ve had since the podcast is that many contemporary operas are on the short side so maybe one way companies could get more contemporary work into their schedules and still sell seats would be to couple a contemporary work with an easy sell. How about Dido and Aeneas and Airline Icarus?