Denver, CO – Colorado’s leading arts and cultural organizations will produce A Journey of the Human Spirit on January 16 and 17, 2013 at the June Swaner Gates Concert Hall at the University of Denver. This performance experience will feature Viktor Ullmann’s opera “The Emperor of Atlantis”and Garrett Ammon’s world premiere dance set to Ofer Ben-Amots’ original score titled, “From Darkness to Light.” Please also visit the Journey of the Human Spirit website for detailed information on the production, producers and performers at www.journey.maccjcc.org
This unprecedented collaboration by Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Central City Opera, Colorado College, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Public Radio, Mizel Arts and Culture Center (MACC) and Newman Center Presents, started with a simple conversation between Colorado Public Radio on air personality Monika Vischer and MACC/JCC chief executive officer, Stuart Raynor. A few years before, Vischer created an award-winning radio documentary series with James Conlon, music director of LA Opera, focused on silenced music of the Holocaust. Vischer had heard about Raynor’s involvement in producing “Der Kaiser von Atlantis” with Conlon in association with the Houston Grand Opera. Dedicated to the mission of having these works performed, they began to talk about how “Der Kaiser” could be performed in Denver. One conversation led to another and the team of those signing onto the mission grew.
During the Holocaust many artists spoke out, trying to stop the destruction of their society. Two of them were musician/composer Victor Ullmann and his colleague librettist Peter Kien. Their satiric opera “Der Kaiser von Atlantis, oder Die Tod-Verweigerung” (“The Emperor of Atlantis” or “Death’s Refusal”) was composed around 1943 while Ullmann and Kien were imprisoned in the concentration camp/ghetto Theresienstadt.
“This opera is not only an important work in historic terms, but also the perfect example of how the arts are a mirror of mankind,” says Pat Pearce, general and artistic director of Central City Opera.
During their discussions about the project, the collaborative team decided to expand the experience of the opera, creating both a preface and an epilogue. The audience’s first experiences of the evening will involve traditional Eastern European klezmer music, celebrating life and leading the audience into the story of the opera. Seamlessly integrated at the end of the opera, a new work of dance will round out the experience, creating a vehicle for hope after so much death. The dance will be choreographed by BNC’s Garrett Ammon and set to an original music piece, “From Darkness to Light,” which combines eastern European Jewish folk themes with a modern dynamic, by Ofer Ben-Amots, Israeli born composer and chair of the Music Department of Colorado College.
Ofer Ben-Amots’ “From Darkness to Light” is a beautifully complex celebration of our humanity and a perfect juxtaposition to ‘Der Kaiser von Atlantis.’ I am thrilled for the opportunity to create a new contemporary ballet around the world premiere arrangement of this wonderful work,” states Garrett Ammon, artistic director for Ballet Nouveau Colorado.
A Journey of the Human Spirit takes place at the June Swaner Gates Concert Hall in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Denver at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, January 16 and 17, 2013. Tickets are available at www.newmantix.com, in person at the Newman Center Box Office, 2344 E. Iliff Ave., Denver, CO 80210, or via phone to the Box Office (303-871-7715). The Box Office is open M-F, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The lowest service fees are available online. Watch for more information at www.darknesstolightcolorado.org .