Der Kaiser von Atlantis

Der Kaiser von Atlantis

900339 (BR Klassik, CD)

FIRST RELEASE (6 May 2022)

Playing time: 52'53"
Tracks: 28
Booklet pages: 13
℗ 2022 BRmedia Service GmbH
© 2022 BRmedia Service GmbH
Main country of recording: Germany
Country of manufacture: Germany
Reviewer: Geoff Pearce
Review of Der Kaiser von Atlantis published on 6 June 2022

Juliana Zara, soprano (The Girl with the Bobbed Hair / A Soldier)
Christel Loetzsch, mezzo-soprano (The Drummer)
Johannes Chum, tenor (Harlequin / A Soldier)
Adrian Eröd, baritone (Emperor Overall)
Lars Woldt, bass (The Loudspeaker)
Tareq Nazmi, bass (Death)
Münchner Rundfunkorchester
Patrick Hahn, conductor

Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944):

Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder Die Tod-Verweigerung, Op 49 (The Emperor of Atlantis, or The Refusal of Death, a play in one act to a libretto by Peter Kien)

Recorded live on 10 October 2021 at the Princeregententeater, München, Germany.

Viktor Ullmann's one-act chamber opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis was written in the Theresienstadt camp and did not see its premiere until 16 December 1975 in Amsterdam, since the performance had been banned after its dress rehearsal in 1944. The concert performance of the version by Henning Brauel and Andreas Krause (Schott), which took place on 10 October 2021 at the Prinzregententheater in Munich, was recorded for this CD. Alongside the internationally renowned Austrian Kammersänger Adrian Eröd in the title role, mainly young performers sang, accompanied by the Münchner Rundfunkorchester conducted by Patrick Hahn, who made his debut here as the orchestra's principal guest conductor. Viktor Ullmann, born in 1898 in Teschen, Silesia, studied with Arnold Schoenberg and Alois Hába in Vienna. He worked first as a bandmaster and then as a bookseller, and settled in Prague as a freelance artist in 1933. Because he came from a Jewish family, he was deported to the Theresienstadt camp by the Nazis in 1942. In October 1944 he was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau, together with composers Pavel Haas and Hans Krása, who were almost the same age. Since the Nazis allowed a lively cultural life in their 'showcase camp' of Theresienstadt, Ullmann was also able to be musically active. The intellectual and cultural heritage of that time is reflected in his music – also, and especially, in the 'one-act play' that he wrote there entitled Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder Die Tod-Verweigerung (The Emperor of Atlantis or the Disobedience of Death), based on the libretto by his fellow prisoner Peter Kien. The play begins with a concept that is as absurd as it is comforting: Death goes on strike. He is weary of his existence, and refuses to serve. In many ways, this reflects the reality of life for those deported to Theresienstadt. The opera, set in the legendary Atlantis, is a parable of the inhuman system of the National Socialists. The message of the work is just as relevant today.