The opera "The Emperor of Atlantis," composed in a Nazi concentration camp by Austria's Viktor Ullmann, brought its satirical indictment of Nazism to Mexico for the first time, singer Jose Adan Perez said Tuesday.
Viktor Ullmann, an Austrian musician of Jewish descent, composed the work in the cabaret style together with Peter Kien, author of the libretto, in the Theresienstadt concentration camp (in what is today the Czech Republic) in 1943, where he began rehearsing it with some of the prisoners.
"This opera in particular is a survivor, a desperate cry that says: We are here. We exist, we die, and this is our legacy for humanity, so it may never forget us," the Mexican baritone said at a press conference.
The work, with certain influences of Johann Sebastian Bach, relates in four acts in German the story of an emperor who lives isolated in a palace and declares a war of total extermination, at which Death, hearing that another is usurping his duties, rebels and halts any further dying.
After being sent to Auschwitz, all the prisoners involved in the opera were soon executed, and the opera itself was destroyed. Most of it survived, however, since Ullmann slipped the manuscript to a fellow prisoner who escaped execution. The work premiered in Holland in 1975. EFE