At under an hour, The Emperor of Atlantis is too short to fill an entire evening. One can think of many good companion pieces, whether other works by Ullmann or works by other concentration-camp victims, or survivors (I'd pick Weill & Brecht's ravishing/harrowing Berlin Requiem). BLO took a nobler route and commissioned a prologue from Harvard composer Richard Beaudoin, The After-Image, a 20-minute "tableau" about a woman (Van Eyck) who finds a photograph of her father (Burdette) when he was a young cadet; it ends with her singing Rilke's famous lines from "Early Picture of My Father": "You, quickly disappearing photograph,/In my more slowly disappearing hand." The After-Image is a plausible introduction to the Ullmann. The best music is a wreathing melody for clarinet (Steven Jackson). But neither the singers (the bland vocal writing, with its lengthy spoken speeches for the daughter, was particularly unflattering) nor Schweizer's staging could bring the piece to a boil.
, Harlequin, Schoenberg, Kathryn Skemp, More