The National Opera presents the first real signs of the so-called new era it has embarked upon with the appointment of Stefanos Lazaridis as the new artistic director, with its latest production which opened at the Olympia Theater yesterday. Manuel de Falla’s «La vida breve» (The Short Life) and Luigi Dallapiccola’s «The Prisoner,» both one-act operas written in the 20th century, are being staged as one production. Both works are about freedom and are directed by American Christopher Alden, who gives a distinctive touch of modern opera. «The Prisoner» is the portrait of a tortured man who, according to Alden, «could be any one of us. He is a man being punished for his desire to rid himself of repression.» De Falla makes his own commentary on social structures through his female leading character in «La vida breve,» Salud, who dares to utter her yearning to free herself from her repressive daily routine. The opera is about Salud’s unlucky love affair with the rich charmer Paco, who eventually chooses Carmela, a girl from his own class, as his wife. Unable to live with this injustice, Salud dies. The opera, a woman’s personal tragedy, brings out powerful feelings through Spanish melodies. De Falla used elements from Spanish folk music as a starting point and did not hesitate to adapt well-known Andalusian songs. The remaining performances have been scheduled for Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, November 29 and December 1. Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias, tel 210.361.2461.