Written by composer Viktor Ullmann and Librettist Peter Kien while they were living in the Teresienstadt Camp-ghetto in World War II, Der Kaiser von Atlantis Oder Die Tod -Verweigerung is a parable of an authoritarian leader whose megalomania is fed by his thirst for war. His obsessive plans for destruction and human annihilation are undermined by death, whose refusal to reap souls causes the Kaiser’s downfall. Denied its premier at Teresienstadt by the SS, Der Kaiser von Atlantis was written as an opera, mixing fairy tales, commedia dell’arte, and cabaret to create a biting satire of unchecked power. Although Ullmann and Kien were killed at Auschwitz, their creation proves that even under unimaginable conditions, we can find comfort in embracing the essentials of our humanity: art, music, laughter, and our shared mortality.
(Pat Diamond, Stage Director)