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A superb cast of graduates from the Juilliard School's Vocal Program and American Opera Center did full justice the opera's demanding vocal writing. Bass Alvin Crawford's rich, sonorous voice brought vibrant life to the repeated perorations of the Loudspeaker. Crawford's velvety, rich toned sound foretells a future Wotan for the Wagner Ring cycle. Baritone Daniel Gross was no less impressive as Death. A heldenbaritone in the Fischer-Dieskau mold, Gross revealed a warmly expressive voice that flowed with the ease of molten lava. Gross's subtly dramatic singing of Death's aria was the evening's emotional highpoint. Soprano Hanan Alattar brought wonderful sweetness and vulnerability to Bubikopf. Her lovely timbre and lyrical radiance recall the young Dawn Upshaw. Alison Tupay's rich Wagnerian mezzo and stunning delivery made the unsympathetic role of The Drummer Girl a standout. Baritone Brian Leerhuber's husky voice and commanding delivery of Emperor Overall's crazed fantasies was riveting. The lyricism and ease with which he commanded the high vocal line suggest a future heldentenor. Character tenor Steven Paul Spears gave a masterful performance of the rhythmically tricky role of Harlequin. His incisive vocal delivery was outstanding. Mathew Garrett brought a light, graceful Mozartean tenor voice to the role of a young soldier. A splendid vocal ensemble!

The Emperor (Brian Leerhuber). Photo © Peter Schaaf
The Emperor (Brian Leerhuber). Photo © Peter Schaaf

Although he perished in the Holocaust, the flame of Viktor Ullmann's music will never die. With the dedicated enthusiasm of James Conlon and a growing number of conductors, his music continues to bear witness to the triumphs and horrific tragedies of the 20th century. The Emperor of Atlantis was an unforgettable experience! A great evening of music and theater!

Copyright © 16 January 2005 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA



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