A voice heard over a loudspeaker sets the scene and presents the characters.
Harlequin describes his sorry life without laughter or love. Death joins him and together they lament how slowly time passes in their grim environment. Death belittles Harlequin’s wish to die and explains how much more dire his own situation is than that of Harlequin. Death is no longer respected now that the “old-fashioned craft of dying” has been replaced by “motorized chariots of war” that work him to exhaustion with little satisfaction.
The Drummer announces the latest decree of the Emperor: Everyone will be armed and everyone will fight until there are no survivors. Death denounces the Emperor for usurping his role: “To take men’s souls is my job, not his!” He declares that he is on strike and breaks his saber.
In his palace, the Emperor gives battle orders and monitors the progress of the universal war. He learns of a man who continues to live eighty minutes after being hanged and shot. The Loudspeaker reports that thousands of soldiers are “wrestling with life…doing their best to die” without success. Fearful that his power will not endure without death, the Emperor announces that he has decided to reward his subjects with the gift of eternal life. More honestly, he asks: “Death, where is thy sting? Where is thy victory, Hell?”
A Soldier and a Maiden confront one another as enemies. Unable to kill each other, their thoughts turn to love. They dream of distant places where kind words exist alongside “meadows filled with color and fragrance.” The Drummer attempts to lure them back to battle with the sensual attraction of the call. The Maiden responds: “Now Death is dead and so we need to fight no more!” She and the Soldier sing: “Only love can unite us, unite us all together.”
The Emperor continues to oversee his failing realm, where his subjects angrily protest their suspension in limbo between life and death. Harlequin appeals to him, reminding him of his innocent childhood. The Drummer urges the Emperor to maintain his resolve, but the Emperor’s memories turn his thoughts from his plans for the annihilation of all. He gazes into a covered mirror and asks: “What do men look like? Am I still a man or just the adding machine of God?”
He pulls away the mirror’s cloth and faces the reflection of Death. “Who are you?” he demands. Death describes his role modestly, like that of a gardener “who roots up wilting weeds, life’s worn-out fellows.” He regrets the pain his strike is causing. When the Emperor asks him to resume his duties, Death proposes a resolution to the crisis: “I’m prepared to make peace, if you are prepared to make a sacrifice: will you be the first one to try out the new death?” The Emperor toils over this and finally makes a decision for himself and his people…
Avi Avital is internationally regarded for his performances at venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, KKL Luzern, Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing and Wigmore Hall in London. He has appeared as soloist with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Berliner Symphoniker under the batons of Mstislav Rostropovich, Sir Simon Rattle and Philippe Entremont, among others. Avital has collaborated extensively with artists such as clarinetist Giora Feidman, soprano Dawn Upshaw, and trumpeter and composer Frank London. He has also been featured at the Tanglewood, Luzern, Spoleto, and Ravenna summer music festivals. Avi Avital is the first mandolin player to receive a Grammy nomination in the category “Best Instrumental Soloist” for his recording of Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto with Andrew Cyr and the Metropolis Ensemble. He has won numerous competitions and awards, including Germany’s ECHO Prize for his 2008 recording with the David Orlowsky Trio and the Aviv Competition, the preeminent national competition for Israeli soloists. Avital has released numerous recordings in the disparate genres of klezmer, baroque, and new classical music.
Noted by the press for his warm baritone voice, commanding stage presence and vocal authority, Keith Phares is acclaimed both on the opera and concert stage as one of today’s most versatile artists.
In the Spring of 2012 he joined Opera Colorado as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. Other upcoming engagements include Escamillo in Carmen with Florentine Opera and Marcello in La bohème with Seattle Opera.
Mezzo-soprano Katherine Pracht’s 2012 season began with the role of Mrs. McLean in Florentine Opera’s production of Susannah, followed by the role of Guenevere in Orchestra Kentucky’s Camelot. Upcoming roles include her Carnegie Hall debut as alto soloist in Verdi’s Requiem, and her debut with Opera Company of Philadelphia as the Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte. Pracht’s 2011 season began with her Dallas Opera debut as Stephano in student performances of Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette; followed by a turn as Rosina in Opera on the James’s Il barbiere di Siviglia; and the role of Julia in the World Premiere of Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals for Skylight Opera Theatre. In the 2010 season, Pracht made her international/Radio France debut singing Dorabella in Così fan tutte with Lyrique-en-mer Festival in Belle-ile; and her Avery Fisher Hall debut in Schumann’s Scenes from Goethe’s Faust with the American Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Pracht has been a Metropolitan Opera Competition Regional finalist in San Antonio, Memphis, and twice in Minneapolis, where, in 2006, she won the Outstanding Mezzo Award.
Steven Paul Spears
Noted for being “most consistently musical, most clear in diction,” possessing a “stunningly beautiful, edgeless tenor” and for “lustrous singing,” tenor Steven Paul Spears has performed with many arts organizations, including those in New York, Berlin, Louisville, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Flagstaff, St. Louis, Palm Beach and Cincinnati.
Specializing in obscure works of the Baroque (Monteverdi and Handel) and Contemporary Periods (Britten and Orff), his operatic repertoire includes the lyric and coloratura roles of Mozart and Rossini, as well as mainstream character roles, such as Little Bat in Floyd’s Susannah and Goro in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Most recently, Steven sang the role of Nebuchadnezzar in Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace in a joint production with Kentucky Opera and the Choral Arts Society of Louisville.
Has performed to popular acclaim in many opera houses across the United States creating a following with both audiences and presenters alike. He recently made his New York City Opera debut as Judge III (Margaret Garner) which was followed by an appearance as Lesbo (Agrippina) and in the following season as Siroco L’étoile. In 2008 Mr. Tucker was invited back to the Sarasota Opera as apart of their grand re-opening season to perform Sparafucile (Rigoletto) and Loredano (I due Foscari) and returned in 2011 to perform the role of Reverend John Hale (The Crucible.
Tenor: Rolf, The Sound of Music
Central City Opera:
Ambrogio, The Barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia), 2013; Soldier, A Journey of the Human Spirit, 2013; Past Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Studio Artist
Beppe, I Pagliacci; St. Brioche, The Merry Widow; and Gobin, La Rondine, Opera Tampa
Girl with Bobbed Hair, A Journey of the Human Spirit
From Claremont, CA
American soprano Devon Guthrie is a recent graduate of the Artist Diploma in Opera Studies program at Juilliard, where she previously received her Master’s Degree. Last season, Ms. Guthrie made her European debut singing Susanna in English National Opera’s new production of The Marriage of Figaro, performed “The Messiah” with the Santa Fe Symphony, finished her time at Juilliard with a return to the role of Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and returned to Santa Fe Opera as an apprentice where she covered the role of Roxana in Szymanowski’s King Roger. At Juilliard, Ms. Guthrie also appeared as Sidonie in Gluck’s Armide under the baton of Jane Glover, participated in a concert of Brahms repertoire with Brian Zeger at Alice Tully Hall, and performed Claude Vivier’s “Lonely Child” with the Juilliard Orchestra conducted by Robert Spano. In past seasons, Ms. Guthrie covered the role of Amore in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice at the Metropolitan Opera and performed the role of The Hen in the New York Philharmonic’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen. At Juilliard her other roles included Drusilla in Monteverdi’s l’Incoronazione di Poppea, Laurie in The Tender Land as a part of The Focus Festival, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia, covering Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites, Dalinda in Ariodante, Mařenka in Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, and she was featured in Juilliard’s Vocal Arts Honors Recital. Ms. Guthrie won the Art Song division of the Liederkranz competition and placed second in the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition. Summer program work includes two apprenticeships at Santa Fe Opera where she covered the role of Rosaura in the world premier of Lewis Spratlan’s Life is a Dream, the role of Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni at The Tanglewood Music Festival under the baton of James Levine and participation in the Bard Music Festival and Ravinia. As a student at Manhattan School of Music, Ms. Guthrie performed in Street Scene as Rose Maurrant and as Belinda in Dido and Aeneas. Solo engagements include Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus and Euridice, Mahler’s 4th Symphony, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Hirt auf dem Felsen with Brian Zeger at the reopening of Alice Tully Hall. She was also featured in three Opera America Salons with composers Ricky Ian Gordon, Lewis Spratlan, and Jake Heggie. Upcoming events include the role of Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Daisy Buchanan in a concert of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby with Emmanual Music in Boston and Tanglewood, and a return to English National Opera as Pamina in a new production of The Magic Flute.
Candice began her training in Littleton, CO under the direction of Shelly Trujillo and Louanne Davies. She has attended River North Dance Chicago summer intensive on full scholarship as well as Bolzano Danza in Bolzano, Italy. Candice graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Arizona in May 2011 with a B.F.A in Dance and a Minor in Business. During her time at the U of A, she had the opportunity to perform modern and jazz repertoire choreographed by Sam Watson, Douglas Nielesn, Amy Ernst, and Michael Williams. She was also featured in James Clouser’s Carmina Burana and performed Sanguinic Principal in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. Candice toured China with Art.if.act Dance Project in the summer of 2011. With BNC, Candice has danced Garrett Ammon and Michael J. Henry’s Intersection and Garrett Ammon’s A Stitch in Time, as well as works by Sarah Tallman and Lane Gifford. Her interests include reading, cooking, and Audrey Hepburn movies.
A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Ben began his dance training with Marianne Hebert and Madalyn Montegudo. He then went on to dance at Baton Rouge Ballet Theater and summer programs at Ballet Austin, Harid Conservatory, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Ben is a graduate of the ballet department at Indiana University, where he was mentored by Guoping Wang, Doricha Sales, and Violette Verdy. Performances at IU include lead roles in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and Rubies, Twyla Tharp’s Sweet Fields, and Agnes deMille’s Rodeo, as well as dancing in works by Jacques Cesbron, Matthew Neenan, Vaslav Njinisky, and Michael Vernon. Ben also danced with Ballet Memphis, where he performed works by choreographers Steven McMahon and Jane Comfort. He was singled out by Alistair Macauly as one of the most memorable “Mother Gingers” in the NYTimes dance critic’s 2010 national Nutcracker tour. With BNC, Ben has performed in Garrett Ammon and Michael J. Henry’s Intersection, as well as Garrett Ammon’s A Stitch in Time, Love in the Digital Age and Rock Ballets.
Marian received her training in the Philippines as a member of Ballet Manila, where she performed soloist and principal roles in full length classics such as The Nutcracker, La Bayadere, and Don Quixote. She was also a Philippine representative at several international ballet competitions. She was a semi-finalist at the Xth Moscow IBC and a finalist at the Japan IBC in 2005. In 2008, Marian joined Ballet Philippines and danced with them for two seasons, performing many original Filipino works. She has danced with Dance Theatre of Tennessee where she received the 2012 Individual Artist Fellowship for Dance by the Tennessee Arts Commission. At BNC, Marian has performed in Garrett Ammon and Michael J. Henry’s Intersection, Garrett Ammon’s A Stitch in Time, Love in the Digital Age and Rock Ballets. She has also danced in works by Maurya Kerr and Lane Gifford.
Colby began his training in Fargo, ND under the direction of Eddie and Kathy Gasper. He attended summer programs on full scholarship with Milwaukee Ballet, Boston Ballet, and River North Chicago Dance Company. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Arizona in 2008 with a BFA in dance. At the U of A, he was featured in ballet, modern, and jazz works by Frank Chaves, Doug Nielsen, Sam Watson, James Clouser, and George Balanchine. Colby has taught and performed with Ballet Magnificat in Tucson and was featured as a Principal Artist in Central City Opera’s production of Oklahoma!. Since joining BNC, Colby has performed in Garrett Ammon’s An Occasional Dream, No Passengers, A Stitch in Time and Love in the Digital Age, as well as in works by Ma Cong, Joshua Blake Carter and Jon Sloven.
Brandon Freeman, better known as “Private”, hails from Colorado. He started dancing at Colorado State University and with Canyon Concert Ballet, before a very successful 12-year career with ODC/Dance, in San Francisco. In the Bay Area, Brandon has also had the privilege of working with Berkeley Ballet Theater, Marin Ballet, Western Ballet, Peninsula Ballet, Mark Foehringer Dance Project, Stephen Pelton Dance Theater, Deborah Slater Dance Theater, Janice Garrett and Dancers, Katie Faulkner (Little Seismic Dance), TheaterWorks, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Liss Fain Dance, Oakland Ballet Company, and Sonya Delwaide; and was a principal dancer in the movie, The Matrix II: Reloaded. Nominated multiple times, Brandon received Isadora Duncan Awards for Ensemble Performance in 2002 with Brian Fisher, and in 2012 with Katie Faulkner, in her renowned duet Until We Know For Sure. Notably, Brandon received a nomination for Individual Performance in 2004 for his role in Brenda Way’s masterpiece, Investigating Grace. Brandon’s choreography includes works for Berkeley Ballet Theater, Marin Ballet, Canyon Concert Ballet, and the Lines Contemporary Ballet BFA program. In addition to teaching ballet and modern dance technique (including Dance for Parkinson’s Disease), he plays the cello and paints. With BNC, Brandon has been featured in Garrett Ammon and Michael J. Henry’s Intersection as well as Garrett Ammon’s A Stitch in Time, Love in the Digital Age and Rock Ballets. He gratefully acknowledges all who have influenced his dance career; specifically Brenda, KT, Sonya, and Randy.
Corbin’s training started in Tucson, AZ in the forms of jazz and tap under the direction of Todd and Jodi Wilson. During that time he also trained with Sheryl Oden and Eva Zorilla-Tessler at Tucson High MS, and later was taken under the wing of Slawomir Wozniak at Master Ballet Academy in Phoenix, AZ. During his senior year of high school, he was invited to attend classes at the University of Arizona School of Dance, where he later became an official student and graduated with a BFA. During his time there, he performed in a number pieces from Sam Watson, James Clouser, Doug Nielsen, George Balanchine, and Melissa Lowe requiring ballet, jazz, and modern technique. Corbin has also toured with the companies Moving People Dance Theatre in Santa Fe, NM and Art.If.Act Dance Project from Tucson, AZ to various places in China. At BNC, Corbin has been featured in Garrett Ammon’s Love in the Digital Age and Rock Ballets.
Julie trained with David Taylor Dance Theatre, and went on to train at Virginia School of the Arts under Petrus Bossman, Martha Faesi and Kris Cangelosi. She received the prestigious Dame Margo Fonteyn award upon graduation. Before joining BNC, Julie danced with Ballet Austin, where she was featured in Steven Mills’ The Nutcracker, as well as with Nashville Ballet, where she danced roles in Romeo and Juliet, Robin Hood, and Giselle. At BNC, she has danced leading roles in Garrett Ammon’s Once Was a Time I Thought, Love of My Life, A Stitch in Time, Love in the Digital Age and Carry On. Julie has also performed in Joshua Blake Carter’s Mothertongue and Ma Cong’s Passion, There.
A former member of Ballet Memphis and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Damien graduated from the Baltimore School for the Arts where he studied under Stephanie Powell and Toni Wilson. He also studied at the Arena Players Youth Theatre and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Damien has performed his choreography at BNC, Ballet Memphis, Morgan State University, Theatre Project, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History. He has appeared as a guest artist for Towson University, Dance Baltimore! and the Men’s Project at Theatre Project and has traveled and performed in a two man show that is based on the life of Emmett Till. Since joining BNC, Damien has been featured in Garrett Ammon’s For the Love of Pete, Hemlocks and Primroses, Love in the Digital Age and Rock Ballets, as well as Garrett Ammon and Michael J. Henry’s Intersection. He has performed in Alex Ketley’s Kill the Anthem and Maurya Kerr’s Groundling.
Meredith trained with Chamberlain School of the Performing Arts and attended summer programs on full scholarship at School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet, Ballet Austin and Pacific Northwest Ballet. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the celebrated Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance and an Outside Field in Comparative Literature. In college, Meredith performed noted roles such as Choleric in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty. Since joining BNC Meredith has been nominated for the Princess Grace award and has danced leading roles in Garrett Ammon’s and tomorrow came, Love of My Life, Moulin Rouge, and An Occasional Dream, as well as world premiere works by Lauri Stallings, Ma Cong, Maurya Kerr, and Amy Seiwert. Meredith has taught within the BNC school for several years and is a certified Pilates instructor.
Sarah holds a BA with honors in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Northern Colorado, where she was the two-time recipient of Dancer of the Year. She has participated in the Inside ODC Professional Workshop, Baardar Dance Institute, and has studied with Lizanne McAdams Graham, Arthur Leeth, Cherie Noble, and Jeffrey Rockland. Sarah has danced with David Taylor Dance Theatre, Kim Robards Dance, Lynn Barr and Dancers, Baardar Dance Institute, and Colorado Dance Theatre. Off- season, Sarah has been a Principal Artist with Central City Opera performing in Carmen, Seven Deadly Sins and Oklahoma!. Since joining BNC, Sarah has danced leading roles in Garrett Ammon’s Smile, When the Power Goes Out, and tomorrow came, and An Occasional Dream. Sarah has also performed in works by Alex Ketley, Amy Seiwert, Ma Cong and Lauri Stallings. An accomplished choreographer, she has created several works for BNC, BNC’s Student Company, and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. Sarah has been a faculty member of the School of BNC for several years. Her interests include yoga, the mountains, snowboarding, twinkling lights, and the color orange.
Hal Aqua & The Lost Tribe
Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe play nouveau klezmer music — an exuberant musical experience, rooted firmly in traditional Jewish modes and melodies and driven by contemporary rhythms and danceable grooves.
The versatile musicians who make up The Lost Tribe have a deep respect for their source material, from the evocative tunes of Eastern European Jews and Gypsies to the sinuous rhythms of the Middle East and Mediterranean. In the long-standing Jewish tradition of absorbing musical inspiration from surrounding cultures, The Lost Tribe steeps their songs in a broth spiced with rock, reggae, salsa, funk and blues influences, serving up an irresistible party vibe. The band includes Hal Aqua (vocals, guitars, octave mandolin, oud), Ben Cohen (bass, tuba), Shanti Hazan (drums and percussion), Sherman Jacobs (violin), and Miriam Rosenblum (clarinet, recorders, button accordion).
The Lost Tribe builds on the tradition of Los Lantzmun (see below), Hal’s popular earlier Jewish world beat band, and includes some of its members. Like that long-running ensemble, the Lost Tribe is dedicated to bringing Jewish music to a wider audience. Whether you’re a longtime klezmer aficionado or have never heard the word, The Lost Tribe will make you a klezmer fan before you can say mazel tov!
Is an acclaimed choreographer who began his tenure as artistic director of Ballet Nouveau Colorado (BNC) in 2007. Since that time, BNC has garnered national attention and praise for its daring work, including being named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” (2009). Ammon was also recently honored as a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Livingston Fellow (2011).
Born in Haifa, in 1955, Israel, Ofer Ben-Amots gave his first piano concert at age nine and at age sixteen was awarded first prize in the Chet Piano Competition. Later, following composition studies with Joseph Dorfman at Tel Aviv University, he was invited to study at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland. There he studied with Pierre Wismer and privately with Alberto Ginastera. Ben-Amots is an alumnus of the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany, where he studied with Martin C. Redel and Dietrich Manicke and graduated with degrees in composition, music theory, and piano. Upon his arrival in the United States in 1987, Ben-Amots studied with George Crumb at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his Ph.D. in music composition. Currently Chair of the Music Department at Colorado College, Dr. Ben-Amots teaches composition and theory, and holds the Crown Family Chair for Innovation in the Arts.
Maestro Yaacov Bergman
Bergman is Music Director of the Walla Walla Symphony, Music Director of the Portland Chamber Orchestra, and former Music Director of the Colorado Springs Symphony, the New York Heritage Chamber Orchestra, and the 92nd St. Y Symphonic Workshop Orchestra in New York City. His versatility has led to frequent guest appearances across the globe conducting the symphonic, operatic, oratorio and pops repertoires.
Peter Kien (born Varnsdorf, Czechoslovakia, 1 January 1919, died Auschwitz, October 1944) was a Jewish artist and poet active at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. He died at the age of twenty-five.
Huffman co-founded the Greenwich Music Festival and serves as the company’s Artistic Director. As a guest teacher and director, he has been engaged by such leading young artist development programs as Canadian Opera Company’s Studio, LA Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, Pittsburgh Opera Studio and the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program. His shows have been described as “the most visually striking and emotionally resonant opera productions in recent years…brilliant” (Time Out NY), “splendid,” “visually memorable” and “destination-worthy” (Opera News), and “excellent” “a compelling musical and theatrical experience” (The New York Times).
Composer, pianist, conductor and music critic was born on the 1st of January in Teschen, now Cieszyn Poland, 1898. An Austrian of Jewish descent and the son of an army officer of the Austrian Imperial Army posted in Teschen, Viktor Josef Ullmann was baptised on the 27th January 1898 into the Catholic Church of St Mary Magdalene, Dominkan Square, Cieszyn. In 1909, the Ullmann family moved to Vienna, where Viktor Ullmann received his education and studying music theory with Dr. Josef Polnauer.
The Holocaust and the Creation of the opera The Emperor of Atlantis
Whenever societies are ruled by tyrants, people are subjected to turmoil, violence and hatred. Creative voices are silenced. Yet a brave and defiant few artists always speak out. Those who do so put their careers and lives in danger. During the Holocaust many artists spoke out, trying to stop the destruction of their society. Two of them were musician/composer Viktor Ullmann and his colleague librettist Peter Kien. Their satiric opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis, oder Die Tod-Verweigerung (The Emperor of Atlantis, or The Refusal of Death) was composed around 1943 while Ullmann and Kien were imprisoned in the former Czech fortress Terezín turned by the Nazis into the transitional concentration camp/ghetto Theresienstadt.
Over its several years in operation, Theresienstadt held over 144,000 Jews from occupied Bohemia. At least 88,000 of them were deported to the death camps. Despite Nazi terror and the desperate conditions, the internees, who included many artists, produced for themselves a rich and creative cultural community, full of great music, art and educational activity. Eventually, the Nazis exploited this haven of the human spirit to deceive Red Cross visitors in 1944, and subsequently exploited it for a self-serving propaganda film.
The one-act opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis was rehearsed at the “model camp” in March 1944. The Nazi authorities, however, understood the depiction of the Emperor as a satire on Adolf Hitler and refused to allow the opera’s performance. Ullmann and Kien were deported in October 1944 to the death camp Auschwitz where they perished. Ullmann entrusted the manuscript to another prisoner, the camp librarian, who survived the war, as did the original manuscript. The opera was first performed by the Netherlands Opera in 1975 and has since been performed throughout Europe and the United States.
The opera has 20 short sections and runs about fifty minutes. Andrew Porter encapsulates the story this way: “The Emperor of Atlantis, ruler over much of the world, proclaims universal war and declares that his old ally Death will lead the campaign. Death, offended by the Emperor’s presumption, breaks his sabre; henceforth men will not die. Confusion results: a Soldier and a Girl-Soldier from opposite sides sing a love duet instead of fighting; the sick and suffering find no release. Death offers to return to men on one condition – that the Emperor be the first to die. He accepts and sings his farewell.”
Parts of the work are danced and there are some purely spoken sections. Singers are accompanied by a chamber ensemble including such unusual instruments as banjo, harmonium, alto saxophone and harpsichord, because those are the instruments that were available to Ullmann in Theresienstadt. Ullmann incorporated into his score harmonically shifted version of the German national anthem the Deutschlandlied, also known by its first words Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles, the famous Lutheran chorale Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, as well as a theme from the Asrael symphony of Josef Suk. Among Ullmann’s other influences were Paul Hindemith, Kurt Weill and Arnold Schoenberg.
Planning the Colorado Premiere of The Emperor of Atlantis
The Colorado premiere of The Emperor of Atlantis takes place January 16 and 17, 2013, thanks to a unique collaboration among several of Colorado’s leading arts and cultural organizations, including Central City Opera, Colorado Symphony, The Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Colorado College, and The Mizel Arts and Culture Center at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center. Colorado Public Radio will broadcast the performance live.
This joint effort started with a simple conversation in the spring of 2007 between Colorado Public Radio on air personality, Monika Vischer, and JCC Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Raynor. A few years before, Vischer created an award-winning 5-part radio documentary series with James Conlon, Music Director of LA Opera, focused on silenced music of the Holocaust. Vischer had heard about Raynor’s involvement in producing The Emperor of Atlantis with Conlon in association with the Houston Grand Opera. Dedicated to the mission of having these works performed, they began to talk about how The Emperor could be performed in Denver. One conversation led to another and the team of those signing onto the mission grew.
“This opera is now being discovered in all of the world’s major arts centers. Its time for Denver is now,” said Vischer, who spearheaded plans for The Emperor’s debut outside of her role as classical host for Colorado Public Radio. “This is not just a clever work that tells a powerful story of the Holocaust’s atrocities, it is a great work of art that deserves its rightful place in history. We have to do our part to make that happen. It’s been my great honor to help bring these partnering organizations together to do just that.”
Everyone agreed that no tyrant should have the power to silence the arts. As Steve Seifert of DU’s Newman Center said, “By ensuring that the voices of those persecuted by the Nazis will be heard, even long after the deaths of both oppressed and oppressors, we take a stand for the right of all present and future artists who may be terrorized by tyrants to be heard.”
The Emperor of Atlantis Becomes A Journey of the Human Spirit
During their discussions about the project, the team decided to expand the experience of the opera, creating, as it were, both a preface and an epilogue. Thus, the audience’s first experiences of the evening will involve traditional Eastern European klezmer music, celebrating life and leading the audience into the story of the opera. Seamlessly integrated at the end of the opera, a new work of dance will round out the experience, creating new communities of hope after so much death. The dance will be choreographed by BNC’s Garrett Ammon and set to music for chamber orchestra, mandolin and clarinet solos, combining eastern European Jewish folk themes with a modern dynamic, by Ofer Ben-Amots, Israeli born composer and Chair of the Music Department of Colorado College. The mandolin solo part will be played by international sensation Avi Avital.