Ullmann: Der Kaiser von Atlantis

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

LABELS: Arabesque
WORKS: Der Kaiser von Atlantis
PERFORMER: Members of the Vermont SO & Chorus/Robert DeCormier
Ever since we became more fully aware of the extent of cultural activities in the Nazi concentration camp at Terezín, these two remarkable operas, conceived and originally performed in the most unimaginably straitened of circumstances, have enjoyed considerable dissemination, both on stage and on disc. For this reason, Arabesque’s highly laudable releases, issued as part of a two-year-long community project in the State of Vermont that dealt with issues surrounding the Holocaust, may not arouse the same degree of interest as some earlier pioneering recordings. This is certainly a pity with regard to Hans Krása’s charming but ineffably poignant opera about the wicked organ-grinder Brundibár who steals money from the poor children who want to buy bread and milk for their sick mother. Performed here in an effective English translation, the work makes an immediate impact, and the coupling of Ullmann’s imaginative folk-song arrangements is most attractive. I’m far less convinced, however, by the recording of The Emperor of Atlantis, which suffers from some stilted dialogue and signally fails to communicate the same level of dramatic urgency as is captured by an all-star cast on Decca’s Entartete Musik label. Erik Levi