Read our Covid-19 statement

See our full site

Emperor of Atlantis

Emperor of Atlantis

Viktor Ullmann The Emperor of Atlantis
J S Bach Christ lag in Todesbanden
Helen Chadwick Towards an Unknown Port

Peter Selwyn conductor
James Conway director
Neil Irish designer
Guy Hoare lighting designer
Cast including Richard Mosley-Evans (baritone), Robert Winslade Anderson (bass-baritone), Callum Thorpe (bass-baritone), Paula Sides (soprano)
English Touring Opera

Aurora joins forces with English Touring Opera for three touring opera productions this autumn.

Viktor Ullmann’s short opera The Emperor of Atlantis was written when the composer and writer were prisoners at the Terezín concentration camp, and it was first rehearsed by inmates of the camp, most of whom perished when transferred to Auschwitz before the premiere. The score was smuggled out of the camp, and it has been acclaimed in performances around the world as an extraordinary testament of wit and humanity in the face of barbarity.

It is not set in the camp – ironically, this black comedy reflects Ullmann’s experiences as an Austrian soldier in the WWI Italian campaign. In the story, Death, disgusted by war, resolves to go on strike, and drives a hard bargain with the Emperor Overall before going back to work.

Ullmann’s score, jazzy and expressive, is full of humour and pathos, and the opera is deeply moving. James Conway’s new production is paired with a poignant staging of Bach’s sublime cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ Lay in Death’s Bonds), arranged by Iain Farrington for Ullmann’s unusual orchestra.

New production

Sung in English
Running time: 1 hour and 20 minutes (with no interval)

In most venues, The Emperor of Atlantis will be preceded by Towards an Unknown Port, a 10-minute cycle of songs written by Helen Chadwick in response to the opera and performed by a local amateur choir, followed by a free pre-show talk. Your ticket also entitles you to attend these extra events. Click here for more information.

Listen to a radio interview with Auschwitz survivor Otto Grunfeld, who had music lessons with Viktor Ullmann in Terezín. Otto was also joined in this interview by Dr David Fligg from Leeds College of Music and by ETO’s General Director James Conway. Click here to listen to the full version.


Dates & Venues
5 October 2012, 8pm
Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
12 October 2012, 8pm
Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
18 October 2012, 8.15pm
West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
26 October 2012, 8.15pm
Exeter Northcott
29 October 2012, 8.15pm
Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
3 November 2012, 8.15pm
Harrogate Theatre
11 November 2012, 4pm
Snape Maltings Concert Hall
14 November 2012, 8.15pm
Great Malvern Priory
17 November 2012, 8.15pm
Buxton Opera House