Flight 571: The Opera Tells the Story of Survival in the Andes

By on June 11, 2015

An opera debuts in Vancouver this weekend about the infamous 1972 plane crash in the Andes in which members of a Uruguayan rugby team resorted to cannibalism to survive.
Flight 571 survivors being rescued in the Andes
Survivors of the Flight 571 crash wave to rescuers after 72 days on the mountain.

It probably won’t be quite as funny as Cannibal! The Musical, but Vancouver composer Lloyd Burritt has turned the tragic story of Flight 571 into an opera.

Flight 571 crashed in the Andes on October 13th, 1972. It was carrying 45 members of a Uruguayan rugby team, only 27 of whom survived the crashed. Many more succumbed to their injuries, the cold, harsh temperatures, an avalanche and starvation in the following days and weeks.

Related: Cannibal survivor recounts horrors in new book

By radio, the survivors learned the search for them had been abandoned. What little food they had depleted quickly. Faced with the inevitable, they began eating their friends and loved ones to survive who had died earlier and remained preserved in the snow.

After two months stranded on the mountain, Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa embarked on a 10-day trek to find help. By the time they returned, there were only 14 left to be rescued.

It sounds like Burritt has chosen to reduce the role of cannibalism in his opera to nothing more than a footnote.

More info here: Miracle Flight 571

Flight 571 crash site in the Andes
Flight 571 crash site

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