This season at New England Conservatory, 30+ concerts demonstrate just how vital music is to human struggle, and what revolution in artistic expression sounds like. Programs range from roots music to Beethoven, fight songs to anti-war anthems. Join our year-long exploration of how music speaks truth to power!
The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobedience of Death is a one-act opera by Viktor Ullmann with a libretto by Peter Kien. Both Ullmann and Kien were inmates at the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt (Terezín), where they collaborated on the opera, around 1943.
While the opera received a rehearsal at Theresienstadt in March 1944, it was never performed there, as the Nazi authorities saw in the depiction of Kaiser Overall a satire on Adolf Hitler and banned the opera.
Both the composer and the librettist died at Auschwitz.
This production, directed by Steven Goldstein, with musical direction by Michael Strauss, features students in their second year of vocal work at NEC, and members of the NEC Symphony conducted by Orchestral Conducting student, Nathan Aspinall.
Kaiser Overall (Emperor Overall)
Der Lautsprecher (Loudspeaker)
Ein Soldat (A Soldier)
James Dornier Harlekin (Harlequin)
David Charles Tay Bubikopf (A Maiden)
Yujin Kim, Clara Reitz* Der Tod (Death)
Junhan Choi Der Trommler (Drummer Girl);
Jennifer Fijal*, Jessica Harika
* indicates Sunday, November 24 performance
Ruth Chang, Haruno Sato, violins, Zaira Meneses, guitar, Erica Schwartz, viola, Zi Wang, cello, Nicholas Myers, bass, Kyle Ruggles, flute, Nicholas Tisherman, oboe, Hunter Bennett, clarinet, David Stevens, alto saxophone, Mason Grainger, trumpet, Robert O’Brien, and percussion, and Michael Strauss, piano, harpsichord, harmonium
Steven Goldstein's thought's on this production-
"In doing Der Kaiser von Atlantis, I wanted it to be seen in the context of where it was written. Life in Terezin was a life of deprivation, where there wasn’t enough food to eat, nor room to live in; where the inmates lived with terrible disease and humiliation and, by 1943, with the constant threat of being transported for “resettlement in the east”. Though at this time they didn’t know that meant Auschwitz-Birkenau, they knew that this resettlement was not a positive development. (Rafael Schachter who also conducted the Verdi Requiem in the ghetto, hastily presented his first performance of that monumental work after learning that half of his chorus was to be shipped out on the next transport.) Ullman composed three intermezzi, two titled Totentanz (Death Dance) and the third, Die lebenden Toten (The Living Dead). We wanted to use those interludes to posit what it might have been like for the singers who were to first present this work, if they indeed were able to do so in the Terezin ghetto itself."
This production can be seen during a 3:00pm matinee Sunday November 24.