The Emperor of Atlantis

Only two more performances!

February 9 and 11, 2009, 8:00 pm
Norman Rothstein Theatre at the
Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre
950 West 41st Avenue @ Oak Street

The Emperor of Atlantis may be one of the most amazing works of art you have never heard. It was written by Viktor Ullmann and Petr Kien in the Nazi camp Theresienstadt in 1944, and has no equal.

This is the first major production by City Opera Vancouver, the only chamber opera company in Vancouver. The opening performance sold out and seats are going fast for the intimate Norman Rothstein Theatre.

The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre’s current exhibition, In Defiance – Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust, is being held in conjunction with the performance. It documents how Jews responded actively to changing circumstances during the Holocaust. They acted individually and collectively to defy Nazism in ghettos, slave labour and concentration camps, partisan groups, and in the arena of daily life.

City Opera’s next production Pauline, is a newly commissioned chamber opera created for the great dramatic mezzo Judith Forst. The work is based on the life and final days of Canadian writer, poet, and actress Pauline Johnson. The music for Pauline will be written by Christos Hatzis and the libretto by Margaret Atwood. City Opera Vancouver plans to create many works by Canadian composers.

City Opera is a project of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver

City Opera Vancouver , the cast of Emperor of Atlantis, Music Director Peter Jorgensen, and Music Director Charles Barber are honoured to co-present, with the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, the British Columbia premiere of a unique chamber opera, The Emperor of Atlantis, by Viktor Ullmann and Petr Kien.

While its score survived the Nazis, its creators did not. When the Nazis realized what ‘Atlantis’ was about, they shipped its entire company off to Auschwitz.

The opera speaks both to transformation and recurrence. It speaks from the nadir of the 20th century to the continued violence and despair of the 21st. Ullmann and Kien, together with their colleagues at Thereisenstadt, created a masterwork.

Among seven characters, two are principal: Death, and The Emperor. Horrified by the murderousness of the Emperor and his regime, Death goes on strike. People are killed but do not die. The Emperor demands that Death resume his business. Death finally agrees, but on one condition…

“Faced by the question of how people could perform and compose even in the depths of hell, there were basically three attitudes among the inmates. The naive prisoners were oblivious to their surroundings and did not absorb the full impact of their situation. They saw no reason to change their lifestyles; if they practiced six hours a day before the war, they would continue to practice six hours a day in the camp.

The optimists believed that the war would soon be over and that the civilized world would not allow the atrocities to continue. They would continue to practice in anticipation of their imminent liberation. Then there were the pessimists who said; ‘We will soon be murdered; why not make the best of our lives while we can?’ Thus the pessimists also continued to perform.”

Pavel Kling – violinist and survivor, 1928 – 2005

Legacy of a Holocaust Survivor
by Fiona Morrow, Globe and Mail

Tickets are $40 available online at Tickets Tonight

Or purchase by phone at 604-684-2787

Tickets are also available at Tom Lee Music, Sikora’s Classical Records, and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre at the door.

The Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, the Honourable Steven Point, and Doctor Jaap Hamburger whose parents were holocaust survivors, spoke to the sold-out audience at the opening performance on Sunday February 1, 2009.

2010 Legacies Now and the Government of British Columbia awarded a grant of $10,000 toward the production of ‘Atlantis’. We are deeply grateful for their investment in this extraordinary project.

In partnership with the Community Arts Council of Vancouver