It would be difficult to imagine a  more unexpected performance stage than "The Stage", an al fresco bar and pop-music venue. In spite of street noise and overhead planes on opening night Thursday, the cabaret atmosphere seemed a perfect fit for the pop culture-infused mini-operas.

What kind of audience did the players find? A young, multi-cultural audience that was  highly attentive and clearly involved in the immediacy of the music and drama. Jose Maria Condemi's theatre-in-the-round production utilized the small stage, covered bar  area and large courtyard, the music and action coming from all directions.

Eriin Turner's minimalist sets and  Camilla Haith's extravagant costumes vividly recreated the bustling, dangerous metropolis of Buenos Aires at the heart of Poazzolla's work. Set to a libretto  by Argentina poet Horacio Ferrer, Piazolla's "operita" (little opera) is a tale of a young woman from the slums of Buenos Aires who is seduced by the tango, which leads her to prostitution and eventual death. Condemned to roam an urban netherworld, she is eventually resurrected, a symbol of the  dance's enduring survival.

This innovative and arresting double bill bodes well for the regime of new FGO general director Susan T. Danis and should not be missed by opera lovers seeking an alternative to the familiar  canon.