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Work of the Week – Anno Schreier: Atlantis

This year, Opera Factory Freiburg have built their programme around their production of Viktor Ullmann’s chamber opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis) directed by Joachim Rathke. Complementary to this programming, Atlantis, Anno Schreier’s new prologue and epilogue to Der Kaiser von Atlantis, will be premiered on 13 October at the E-Werk in Freiburg im Breisgau.

Opera Factory Freiburg commissioned Atlantis expressly for their Ullmann programme, however in order to preserve the autonomy of his composition, Schreier avoided motivic references to Ullmann’s music almost entirely. While the prologue can be played as an independent concert work, the epilogue is inseparable from Ullmann’s opera. Klaus Simon, the artistic director of the Opera Factory, will also contribute to the programme with four new arrangements of Ullmann songs for the company’s resident orchestra the Holst Sinfonietta.

Anno Schreier – Atlantis: mystery and menace

Der Kaiser von Atlantis tells the story of a cruel emperor who declares a war on everyone. The character of Death feels usurped and refuses his duties, meaning everyone lives for eternity and the emperor’s war is in vain. A soldier and a girl confront each other in battle, but being unable to kill each other, they fall in love. In an attempt to ease the suffering of the people, Harlequin appeals to the emperor’s compassion by awakening his childhood memories, causing him to finally regret the pain he is causing. Death promises to resume his role and restore order, on the condition that the emperor voluntarily dies.

For me, the word ‘Atlantis’ musically evokes slow sounds rising from the depths, creating a mysterious, yet menacing atmosphere. It is only in two places that a characteristic fanfare from Ullmann’s opera emerges, like a sudden memory or announcement. – Anno Schreier

Following the premiere Atlantis will be staged in four further performances as part of Opera Factory Freiburg’s Ullmann programme.


© Holst-Sinfonietta / Foto: Anke Nevermann