DER DIKTATOR. Ernst Krenek / DER KAISER VON ATLANTIS. Viktor Ullmann
DER DIKTATOR. Ernst Krenek (Spanish premiere)
DER KAISER VON ATLANTIS. Viktor Ullmann
30 November, 2, 4 December, 2018
The performance lasts about 1 hour 45 minutes
Tragedy and Satire for two Dictators
Der Diktator, a tragic opera in one act by Ernst Krenek (Vienna, 1900-Palm Springs, 1991) will be seen for the first time in Spain. It shares the stage with Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis) by Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944), in what is a most compelling double programme at the Teatro de la Maestranza. The Seville theatre continues its unique project of bringing to light the great Late Romantic repertoire of Vienna for Spanish audiences. In this case, these are two operas which were directly influenced by fascism in Europe with its dramatic consequences.
Der Diktator, with a libretto by the composer, premiered on May 6 1928 in Wiesbaden. It was inspired by a Mussolini-type figure although Krenek said that the story was only “an anecdote of the private life of an important man”. Notwithstanding, the libretto combines realism with bitterness in a visionary portrait of the dangers of fascism, anticipating the tragedy brought on by German National Socialism in Germany. Krenek would emigrate in 1938 to the United States (where he would remain until his death), fleeing from a regime that considered his work to be degenerate. Krenek’s music moves in the spheres of atonality, jazz, and dodecaphonism (twelve-tone system). His 1926 opera” Jonny spielt auf” (Johnny Strikes Up) was blacklisted as indecent and labelled pornographic, with its influence of jazz and a black man as the lead character. The premiere of his twelve-tone opera “Karl V” was cancelled in 1933.
The Teatro de la Maestranza premieres Krenek’s Der Diktator in Spain with a stage production by Rafael Rodríguez Villalobos (Sevilla, 1987), who has studied music and dramatic art. In 2013, he was the youngest recipient ever of the prestigious European award for opera stage design, “Premio Europeo de Dirección Operística”. Pedro Halffter Caro conducts the Royal Seville Symphony Orchestra (ROSS) and Martin Gantner, Nicola Beller Carbone, Natalia Labourdette and Vicente Ombuena lead the cast of singers.
Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis) is a grotesque portrait of a tyrannical figure which is a caricature of Hitler. In the opera, this absolute ruler forces humanity to permit a ferocious massacre yet the character of Death does not permit the wounded to die. The critics saw this as “the abdication of death pitted against the universal horrors of life”.
The opera was composed by Ullmann -a disciple of Schönberg and assistant to Zemlinsky in Prague- in the concentration camp of Theresienstadt in 1943, before he was sent to Auschwitz, where the composer would die along with his librettist Peter Kien. They permeated the work with a spine-chilling, satirical, devastating atmosphere. Another prisoner, H.G. Adler, rescued the piece and it was first heard in Amsterdam in 1975.
In a co-production between the Teatro de la Maestranza, the Teatro Real (Madrid) and the Palau de Les Arts (Valencia), orchestra conductor and composer Pedro Halffter Caro presents his enlarged version of the original chamber ensemble in a new score for a large orchestra. He has also composed two pieces, based on the music of Ullmann, for the triptych which constitutes the prologue of the opera. For Halffter, “The Emperor …” is a beautiful and masterly opera, it represents the pursuit of the freedom of artistic expression which took place in the most extreme of places and moments”. For stage director Gustavo Tambascio (who died suddenly in February 2018), The Emperor of Atlantis is a macabre satire, a sort of gloomy cabaret which denounces the la industrialization of death”.
With the Royal Seville Symphony Orchestra (ROSS) in the pit, the cast of singers remains the same: Martin Gantner, Nicola Beller Carbone, Natalia Labourdette and Vicente Ombuena.
EN TORNO A... Der Diktator / Der kaiser von Atlantis
29 November, 2018
Pedro Halffter Caro, Rafael Rodríguez Villalobos and José Luis López López
With Asociación Sevillana de Amigos de la Ópera (ASAO)
SALA DE PRENSA
(Access via the theatre reception entrance)
Free of charge until complete capacity
Der Diktator - Synopsis
Montreux, Lake Geneva. On the deck of a sanatorium, facing the Grand Hotel.
Maria, the wife of a blind military veteran contemplates the view from the terrace of the sanatorium. The Dictator comes out of the hotel to give the courier the declaration he has signed for a new war. As he sends the man off, he is transfixed at the sight of the beautiful woman. She feels his horrible gaze upon her and hears him talking to himself about his plans for the new war. Charlotte, the wife of the Dictator enters, she asks him to stop this bloodshed. She fears for his life as he is under constant threat. The Dictator does not listen, instead he toasts for the new war and the power he feels. In his wife’s presence, he also drinks to Maria and then goes into the hotel feeling bothered by Charlotte’s jealousy.
A nurse gets the Official out of bed and brings him on to the porch for some sunlight. The Official laments his misfortune and recalls the moment he lost his sight in battle. It will never come back. Maria, hearing that there is no hope for her husband, promises to avenge him by killing the Dictator. He is the person responsible for having destroyed her husband’s life.
The Hotel, in the study of the Dictator.
A visit by an unknown woman is announced to the Dictator. He thinks it will probably be some scrounger. Charlotte asks him to refuse the woman entry because she has a premonition. The Dictator, on the other hand, believes this just might be the beautiful woman who he saw before, he orders the woman to be allowed in. Charlotte hides behind the screen instead of leaving the room. The woman enters; indeed, it is Maria. She pulls out a revolver and reveals her intention. The Dictator begins to seduce her with his words. Charlotte imagines this is a ruse to save his life, however there is a tone of sincerity in what he says that she has never heard directed towards her. Maria is increasingly fascinated by the overpowering personality of the Dictator and eventually she gives him the revolver. Charlotte is beset with jealousy, she points the revolver and shoots, but Maria stands between them and takes the bullet. The Dictator sends Charlotte out and calls a detective to report that a woman has committed suicide. Alone, he is nervous and afraid. He slips away when the blind Official fumbles in with his cane and a demented expression on his face. Having heard the shot, the Official asks Maria -in vain- if she has done the job.
Der Kaiser von Atlantis - Synopsis
The Loudspeaker sets the scene and presents the players.
Harlequin (an old man with a beard) and Death sit on a bench and lament this unfortunate time period where there is no place for them now. Harlequin thinks about dying because he doesn’t make anyone laugh anymore. Days go by monotonously, without any point. For his part, Death thinks back to the days of glory on the battlefield, but no-one respects him now. The Drummer arrives and declares the latest decree by the Emperor: a war of all against all has been declared throughout the domain. Death feels as though he is being mocked and breaks his sword: now men will no longer be able to die.
In the Palace. The Emperor gives orders and receives reports. To his surprise, he finds out that the political prisoners who he ordered to be executed have not died, despite having been hung. Quickly turning the situation to his advantage, he orders his subjects to be informed he has discovered the secret of eternal life.
On the battlefield. A soldier and Bubikopf (the Bobbed-Hair Girl) fight as enemies but are unable to kill each other. The soldier notices that Bubikopf is a girl and he is overcome with human sentiments of love and compassion. Together, they dream of distant places where there are no wars.
In the Palace of the Emperor. The country is in chaos: the hospitals are full of dead men who are still alive, the doctors are deserting. Harlequin appears, he brings back childhood memories of the Emperor. In this most unusual situation for the Emperor, he is going mad. He pulls away the mirror’s cloth and sees the reflection of Death who promises to go back to work and offer the people a tranquil place without suffering. However, the Emperor must be the first one to sacrifice himself. He agrees, and the rest of the characters call upon Death, who they no longer need invoke in vain.
30 November, 2, 4 December, 2018
WEEKDAYS WD (Sun. to Thu.) WEEKEND WE (Fri. and Sat.)
Stalls (Patio) WD 116€ / WE 125€
Balcony (1ª Balcón) WD 111€ / WE 120€
Balcony (2ª Balcón) WD 100€ / WE 107€
Terrace (1ª Terraza) WD 88€ / WE 95€
Terrace (2ª Terraza) WD 76€ / WE 82€
Slips (1ª Paraíso) WD 70€ / WE 76€
Slips (2ª Paraíso) WD 59€ / WE 63€
Slips (3ª Paraíso) WD 46€ / WE 50€
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