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2020/09/21

Werk der Woche – Viktor Ullmann: Der Kaiser von Atlantis

Two new productions of Viktor Ullmann´s one-act chamber opera The Emperor of Atlantis or Death’s Refusal are opening in Germany this week. On 26 September the opera opens at Landestheater Neustrelitz, and on 27 September Deutsche Oper am Rhein will present a new production at Opernhaus Düsseldorf. With its compact cast of characters and instrumentation, as well as its timeless staggering subject matter, it is the piece of the hour. 

The opera is a parable of a cruel emperor, whose senseless war is claiming many lives. Death puts an end to the chaos by refusing his duty – now, everyone lives for eternity. The king becomes disempowered, but the people long for a release from the pain of life. Only the voluntary death of the emperor can restore death’s original purpose.

Ullmann wrote The Emperor of Atlantis while imprisoned at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943, based on a libretto by Peter Kien, a fellow prisoner. The opera was rehearsed by a chamber ensemble founded with the permission of the SS, but its performance was prohibited after the final rehearsal. Just before his deportation to Auschwitz in 1944, Ullmann handed the score and libretto to a friend who was able to save both manuscripts.

Viktor Ullmann – The Emperor of Atlantis: a theatrical memorial

I composed quite a lot of new music in Theresienstadt, mostly for satisfying the demands of conductors, directors, pianists, singers and thus for the leisure activities in the Ghetto […]. I need to emphasize that my musical work was encouraged and not inhibited by Theresienstadt. We were not merely succumbing to grief at Babylon’s streams, and our cultural will was equal to our will to live; and I am convinced that all those who have attempted to shape reluctant material in either life or art would agree with me. – Viktor Ullmann

There will be two further performances at Landestheater Neustrelitz with the last night being presented on 24 October. In Düsseldorf, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein will run for a further eight performances until 19 November. Several versions and manuscripts of the opera are available that show the work in various stages before and after its censorship. A new Eulenburg study score from Schott (ETP 8067) shows each version together in one edition.

photo: Deutsche Oper am Rhein / Hans Jörg Michel

2018/10/08

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

2016/09/01

Schott Journal: New Look of the Customer Magazine

Exactly 50 years ago in the autumn of 1966, the Schott publishing house launched a customer magazine presenting new works and products. The ‘Schott-Kurier’ consisted of four pages printed in black and white and was written in German, and therefore only distributed within Germany. Nowadays, our customer magazine has long been bilingual and involves a collaboration of our editors across the world in Mainz, London, Tokyo and New York. The journal is sent to musicians and programmers in over 50 countries and its 20 to 24 pages are devoted not only to new publications and premieres, but also to particularly fascinating works from our back catalogue, united under specific themes.

Schott Journal – News for Music Makers

Today you have received our first magazine with a new look. We have overhauled our layout, restructured our topics and created a special column for children’s music in concert and onstage entitled ‘Children’s Corner’. ‘Schott aktuell’ has been renamed Schott Journal – News for Music Makers. Our goal is to provide even better, more clearly organized and more interesting information on the latest news from Schott.

Vorstellung des neuen "Schott Kurier" im Sommer 1966
Ancestor of the new Schott Journal: Introduction of the “Schott Kurier” in 1966

This first issue is devoted to major choral symphonic works, prompted by a series of premieres of compositions by Pēteris Vasks, Stefan Heucke and our American composer Hannah Lash. fortunately, choral singing is again growing in popularity. In this issue, we hope you make great discoveries of new works, particularly if you are looking for more substantial, large-scale choral symphonies.

World Premieres by:

Pēteris Vasks, Pierre Jalbert, Hannah Lash, Peter Eötvös, Toshio Hosokawa, Alexander Goehr, Richard Wagner, Stefan Heucke, and Enjott Schneider

Forst nights of works by:

Douglas J. Cuomo, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Viktor Ullmann, Engelbert Humperdinck, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Jacques Offenbach, Modest Mussorgskij, Harry Partch, Eberhard Streul, Wilfried Hiller, Nino Rota, Carl Orff, Toshio Hosokawa, György Ligeti, and Paul Lincke

Further Spotlights:

Aribert Reimann, Luigi Nono, Howard Shore, Gustav Mahler/Yoel Gamzou, Chaya Czernowin