Donate Now

Opera America

Spring Chamber Operas

  The Emperor of Atlantis In commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Festival Opera will present two chamber operas — Viktor Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis and Jake Heggie’s Another Sunrise.

Subversive OperaThe Emperor of Atlantis (Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder Die Tod-Verweigerung) is also called The Emperor of Atlantis or Death Abdicates. It is a one-act opera by Viktor Ullmann with libretto by Peter Kien. They collaborated on the work while interned in a Nazi concentration camp around 1943. The opera dared to satirize the political situation of WWII while delivering timeless messages of the power of life and death. A struggle between a deluded, warring emperor and Death itself wreaks havoc on humanity until one of them gains the upper hand in The Emperor of Atlantis. The Nazis did not allow the opera to be performed, and both composer and librettist were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. Written in four scenes, the opera features a small cast of singers as well as a thirteen-piece chamber orchestra. The opera's West Coast premiere was in 1977 at the San Francisco Spring Opera Theater, a branch of the San Francisco Opera.

Bay Area composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer are the creative team behind the 2010 opera Moby-Dick, which has been hailed as a triumph and instant classic. This will only be the second production of Another Sunrise, which made its world premiere as a commission by Music of Remembrance in Seattle in 2012. In this moving short work, Krystyna Zywulska, a Polish resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor, struggles to tell her story to a tape recorder during a sleepless night. She shows us that sometimes the memories may be there, but there are no words to describe them. This brief work goes to the essence of what it takes to survive. Composer Heggie explained: “I’m particularly inspired by stories of social justice and the inequities of life, and how we are all connected as human beings despite those inequities. The full breadth of Krystyna Zywulska’s work as a memoirist, poet and satirist is still being revealed and given new appreciation. Her story cries out to be told through theater and poetry.”

New York stage director Beth Greenberg will direct the productions. Greenberg has earned a solid reputation for her collaborations with living American opera composers, and was Festival Opera’s stage director for the West Coast premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town in 2007. Matilda Hofman will conduct the Festival Opera Chamber Orchestra. Hofman is music director of the Diablo Symphony Orchestra, a regular guest conductor with Empyrean Ensemble and the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and assistant conductor at Sacramento Opera.

The cast is comprised of several Festival Opera and Bay Area favorites: Soprano Marie Plette will portray Krystyna Zywulska in the one-woman, half-hour Another Sunrise, and baritone Eugene Brancoveanu (Emperor Überall), bass-baritone Philip Skinner (Death), baritone Roberto Perlas Gomez (The Loudspeaker), soprano Rebecca Garcia (The Maiden), tenor Christopher Bengochea (The Soldier and Harlequin), and soprano Valentina Osinski (The Drummer Girl) comprise the cast of The Emperor of Atlantis. Both operas will be sung in English.

Festival Opera’s The Emperor of Atlantis and Another Sunrise are scheduled for three performances only:

Saturday, April 26 at 7:30 pm
Monday, April 28 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
(April 28 is Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church
55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek

General Seating – All Tickets: $35.

Composer Jake Heggie and soprano Marie Plette rehearse an aria from Festival Opera's upcoming production of Another Sunrise.