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James Conlon Leads Concert Performances of Krenek and Ullmann Operas at Colburn School

Jan. 12, 2012

James Conlon Leads Concert Performances of Krenek and Ullmann Operas at Colburn School

It's all things opera at the Colburn School in LA when, on January 20-22, Los Angeles Opera music director James Conlon conducts LA Opera's Young Artists and the Colburn Orchestra in a double-bill of Ernst Krenek's Das geheime Königreich (The Secret Kingdom) and Viktor Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis). Inspired by LA Opera's "Recovered Voices" series, the program features one-act operas from both composers who were each targeted by Nazi officials during WWII.

Krenek's opera is a social commentary of its time and features the composer’s own libretto. Composed from 1926-27, The Secret Kingdom premiered in 1928 at the Staatstheatre in Wiesbaden. Its subtitle "A Fairytale Opera" offers a glimpse into a kingdom where its ruler longingly wishes for a world far away from civilization and power. Krenek would later be labeled a "degenerate" artist for his frequent use of Jazz and serialism, which led him to emigrate to the United States.

While imprisoned at the Terezín concentration camp, Ullmann penned The Emperor of Atlantis in collaboration with fellow-prisoner and librettist Peter Kien in 1943. The work received one rehearsal. Its allegorical story was viewed unfavorably, so the work was banned and never premiered in Ullmann's lifetime. Ullmann and Kien were subsequently sent to Auschwitz where they perished. Ullmann's manuscripts, however, were kept by survivor Emil Utiz, a fellow-prisoner and camp librarian. Utiz passed the materials along to Ullmann's friend and poet Hans Adler, some of whose works Ullmann had previously set. Over time and with careful editing and preparation, the work was premiered in 1975 at the Netherlands Opera, and received its American premiere by the San Francisco Opera in 1977.

For more information about the Colburn Conservatory performances, click here.

For more on the life and work of Ernst Krenek, visit

Learn more on Viktor Ullmann at

Ernst Krenek
Das geheime Königreich (1926-1927)
"The Secret Kingdom"
chamber opera in one act
libretto (Ger) by composer
for coloratura soprano, soprano, 2 baritones, 3 tenors, mezzo-soprano, contralto, basso buffo,
The Colburn performance features the revised Chamber Orchestration

Viktor Ullmann
Der Kaiser von Atlantis (1943)
“The Emperor of Atlantis”
chamber opera in one Act
libretto (Ger) by Peter Kien; English translation by Sonja Lyndon
revised by Andreas Krause
for soprano, mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, baritone, bass