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"The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobey of Death" -
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
    This video clip shows some part of the opera "The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobey of Death" of the musician and composer Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) in a performance of ARBOS - Company for Music and Theatre at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. The libretto and musical motifs are based on his experience in World War I and the experience of the last battle at the river Isonzo in October 1917. So Ullmann became a witness of the apocalypse and later by himself a victim of the apocalypse in Auschwitz. Viktor Ullmann and his artistic work later were deeply influenced by his personal experience during World War I. The best example for that are libretto and music of the opera “The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobey of Death”. This piece he composed at Theresienstadt / Terezín from 1943 to 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 the pre-emptive total war. Ullmann served in war as an observer. And if the observer uses the telephone or the radio, he always must start the message with following words: “Halloh! Halloh!”. And the first two words in the opera “The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobey of Death” are “Hallo, Hallo !” used by the character of the “Loudspeaker”, who describes himself as “a not real existence like the radio”. But also the other characters of the opera are remembering to the battlefield experience of Ullmann. The character of the “Death” is clothed like a soldier of monarchy. The “Emperor” is Emperor Karl, the last emperor of Austria-Hungary responsible for the gas attack at the 12th Isonzo battle. 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. On 16th of October 1994 Ullmann was deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz. There he was murdered on 18th of October 1944 by gas. „We would be very pleased, if these people would be in the right position, who are believing that the death is the eternity, which will give them the right on the truth. But we would and could not show, that the death is beautiful, because we believe, that it is not allowed to lie on the theatre.“ wrote the poet Dževad Karahasan from Sarajevo.