Magazine article Opera Canada

City Opera of Vancouver

Magazine article Opera Canada

City Opera of Vancouver

Article excerpt

It was fitting that Jaap Nico Hamburger, the son of Auschwitz survivors, introduced City Opera of Vancouver's The Emperor of Atlantis at the Norman Roth-stein Theatre Feb. 11. This powerful work survived the Holocaust by chance, kept for 30 years in a leather suitcase given by-Viktor Ullmann to a friend before the composer was sent from Theresienstadt concentration camp to Auschwitz, where he and his librettist, Petr Kien, perished. The piece is set in Atlantis, whose ruler was characterized by ancient writers as a tyrannical enslaver. The analogy to Nazi German was obvious to the guards at Theresienstadt, where it was composed, and they suppressed it after the dress rehearsal before deporting its creators.

The orchestra, conducted by Charles Barber, the Vancouver production's chief initiator, massaged and supported the work of the seven soloists and two dancers. The inclusion of non-traditional instruments--such as saxophone, banjo, guitar and keyboard--intensified the impression for the listener of being taken to an unknown place.

As Emperor Uberall, Andrew Greenwood's stage presence and resonant baritone made his persona as world dictator completely credible. …

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