Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Moving Voice of a Pained Past

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Moving Voice of a Pained Past

Article excerpt

Byline: KIERON QUIRKE

THE EMPEROR OF ATLANTIS/ GRIMEBORN Arcola, E8 ARTISTS born to unsensational peace have been "bumming a ride on the Holocaust" for decades now. Here is the real deal. Composer Viktor Ullmann and librettist Peter Kien wrote The Emperor of Atlantis while in the Terezin concentration camp. It got them transferred to Auschwitz.

The opera -- intended for their fellow inmates -- concerns a certain Kaiser of Atlantis ("the Butcher of Europe -- who lives alone in his Underground Bunker" -- get the point?). This Kaiser offends the Grim Reaper and so must cope with a world without his services.

What follows is confusing. This is not a master work, and Dioneo Opera's production, directed by Max Hoehn, is not flawless. The singers don't all seem convinced they're up to it, and diction (it's in English) is not great.

But conductor John Murton and his band deliver the mordant score with wit and nicely judged moments of sentimentality. …

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