You'll only have five chances to catch a unique operatic experience being offered by the Canadian Opera Company.
The COC's Ensemble Studio is presenting The Emperor of Atlantis, composed by Viktor Ullman in 1943 in Theresienstadt, the Nazi Concentration Camp known as the Red Cross Camp because of its facade as a "work" camp for artists.
The performances, beginning Nov. 23 and conducted alternately by the COC's artistic director Richard Bradshaw and Bruno Ferrandis, will be staged by John Neville, the Stratford Festival's former artistic director. It will be sung in English.
Written on the back of prisoner information forms, The Emperor of Atlantis was smuggled out when Ullman and the entire cast were sent to Auschwitz after the Nazis were informed of the opera's content. An allegorical chamber piece, it raises the intriguing question of what would happen if death went on strike and refused to allow anyone to die. How would the tyrants of the world rule without being able to threaten death?
In the opera, the dictator Emperor Overall kills so many of his subjects that Death, feeling cheapened, abdicates his responsibilities. In addition to The Emperor of Atlantis, the programme will feature a series of Kurt Weill songs from his play Marie Galante, to be performed by the cast. They are current and past members of the COC Ensemble Studio, the COC's training program for professional opera artists.
The Emperor of Atlantis will be performed on November 23, 25, 27, 29 and 30, at Toronto's Imperial Oil Opera Theatre. Call the Canadian Opera Company at 416-363-8231 for tickets.
--By Mira Friedlander