Viktor Ullmann THE EMPEROR OF ATLANTIS
Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park 7.30pm 15 and 16 September 2018
Director: Polly Graham
Music director: Timothy Burke
Bold Tendencies with Polly Graham, and her recently formed company, Loud Crowd, are bringing a new opera programme to Peckham, beginning in 2018 with Viktor Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis and a special rehearsed reading of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Young Blood!, ahead of a major production of this work here in 2019. We believe opera can appeal to many more people than it currently does, but this requires an active shift in mindset and a new, energetic and ambitious approach to making work. The Opera Programme at Bold Tendencies is supported by Selfridges and Arts Council England.
The Emperor of Atlantis is an opera about the need for humans to respect death. The megalomaniac Emperor has declared a war that will only end when there are no survivors left. Death, an old tramp, is outraged that a mortal should try to steal his job and goes on strike. The war begins but panic sets in as no one can die. The Living Dead walk the earth. The Emperor's power weakens. He submits to the greater power of Death, and dies. Originally written in the concentration camp at Terezin in 1943 as a satire of the Nazi regime, this project proposes to re-read the piece as a prophecy for our time, presenting it within the context of current political debates about nuclear warfare, the migration crisis, climate change and the value of life in relation to power, always with a flavour of satire and clowning. The sound world of the opera is cartoonish and accessible, its collage style mixes jazz with chamber music and cabaret.