05/24/2013 10:18 am ET

Viktor Ullmann's Opera Written In Nazi Concentration Camp Revived In Berlin

The Guardian

It is a small operatic gem that was written under torturous circumstances and almost failed to see the light of day when its composer was dragged off to the gas chambers before being able to hear it performed. But it lives on thanks to a professor of philosophy who survived Theresienstadt concentration camp, where it was written, and who preserved the manuscript.

Now a Berlin orchestra and an American conductor are to revive The Emperor from Atlantis by Czech-German composer Viktor Ullmann on a more than unusual stage – the former headquarters of the SS and Gestapo in the German capital, known as the Topography of Terror. "We wanted to reinforce the immediacy of the genocide of Ullmann and whole schools of composers of that time and this is a far more effective mise en scène than an opera house would be," said John Axelrod, the US conductor who is leading the project.

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