The Emperor Of Atlantis
posted March 22, 2011 11:23 AM   RSS | iCal | +googleCal

Tue April 5 at 8:00 PM, The Cello Factory
33-34 Cornwall Rd, Lambeth, Greater London SE1 8, UK (Map & Directions)
is the first production by the new opera company I've founded, Dioneo. We'll be staging it at the Cello Factory near Waterloo, London, on the evenings of April 5, 6, 8 and 9 (but not 7.) It's a one-act opera, about an hour long. We at Dioneo believe that opera should be available to everyone, so we've priced tickets at only £12. The venue is intimate and only seats 60, so advance booking is recommended. You can book online here.
The Emperor of Atlantis is a witty, mordant satire of the Third Reich, an audacious gesture of resistance from the Theresienstadt concentration camp where the composer and librettist were imprisoned. In the opera, the Emperor declares total all-out holy war on everything everywhere, and Death is so annoyed by this that he quits. What follows is what happens when you try to fight a war without Death (soldiers from opposing sides falling in love; political prisoners who can't be executed, etc.)

The music is surprisingly, hauntingly beautiful, but the inhabitants of Theresienstadt never got to hear it. When a couple of SS officers came to the dress rehearsal, they didn't like what they saw. The performances were banned, and the composer, librettist, orchestra and their families were sent to their deaths in Auschwitz. The score only survives because Ullmann entrusted it to a friend who happened to live.

We have a cast of wonderful singers and a 14-piece band, ably headed by director Max Hoehn and conductor John Murton. I'm co-producing, which is new for me, and it would be cool to see other MeFites there. I hope you'll come and see it.
posted by Pallas Athena to Performance (2 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Wow! Thanks for pointing this out - we went tonight and enjoyed it hugely. I love the space (walked past it lots of times and wondered what it was like), and the way you used it. And the show, of course.

The music is fascinating - strict 20th Century and 30s popular music melted together. It's not something I'm an expert on (hence the rather naive statement in the previous sentence), beyond knowing the usual Weill and Eisler tunes, but I was impressed by the echo in music I do know (such as Robert Wyatt and the Henry Cow / Art Bears / News From Nowhere nexus).

The quartet you linked to is stunning, by the way.

How long does he have to stand in that cupboard before the show starts?
posted by Grangousier at 1:48 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hi there! Thank you so much for coming along tonight; I'm really glad you enjoyed it!

I do love the music. You're right about the fusion of classical and popular; Ullman even gives tempo markings like "Blues" in the score. The strangeness of the orchestration contributes a lot to the overall effect-- the piece was scored for anyone in the camp who had an instrument and could play it. So there are conventional brass, woodwinds and strings, but also sax, harmonium and banjo.

The Loudspeaker is in the cupboard for about 15 minutes before the start! It's a very small cupboard. We do our best to start on time.

Again, many many thanks for coming to the opera.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:57 PM on April 6, 2011

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