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“The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobey of Death” –
Tracks to World War I”...
    This video-clip is a music theatre film documentary about the opera "The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobedience of Death" of the Austrian Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) directed by Herbert Gantschacher and edited by Erich Heyduck. In music and libretto Ullmann used his memory to World War I (composed at Terezín 1943/1944). In the story of the opera Death (dressed as a retired soldier of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy) refuses to collaborate with the Emperor in a pre-emptive total war. Ullmann himself served as soldier in a battery as an observer. In the artillery handbook of the Austro-Hungarian Army the function of an observer is clear defined. The observer works in cooperation with the command of the battery using telephone or radio or other optical signs. If the observer uses the telephone or the radio, he always must start with following words: "Halloh! Halloh!". And the first two words in the opera "The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobedience of Death" are "Hallo, Hallo !" used by the character of the "Loudspeaker", who describes himself as "a not real existence like the radio". So that is one character coming out from Ullmann's memory to World War I. But all other characters of the opera are remembering to the battlefield experience of Ullmann. The character of the "Death" is clothed like a retired soldier. The "Emperor" is Emperor Karl, the last emperor of Austria-Hungary responsible for the gas attack at the 12th Isonzo battle, where Ullmann was involved in October 1917. The character of the "drummer" is the announcer of the war in the opera as it happened in reality. The character of the "Soldier" on the battlefield meets a "Bubikopf" from the other army in a combat man to man. But this "Bubikopf" is not a man it is a "Girl". And they fell in love and the resistance against the pre-emptive total war of the "Emperor" during love starts. And in a total war everybody is involved also women. Women served in Austria-Hungary as soldiers in the army. So all characters of the opera based on the personal experience of Ullmann during World War I. But Ullmann is not celebrating the war in the opera; during the words of the libretto and his music he called and calls also nowadays for resistance against any form of despotism or misuse of democratic rules.