Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder die Tod-Verweigerung

Viktor Ullmann

Richard Brunel has revived his Empereur d’Atlantis, staged three years ago for the Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse, this time in the charming Villeurbanne TNP. His directing is as inventive as ever, with the orchestra initially placed in the front and then moving to the top – once Death has first slain, then resurrected the trumpeter – slowly rising in an eerie silence. Above all, his masterful direction of the cast brings a remarkable energy to this rather sinister tragedy.

Jean-Charles Hoffele, Concert classique

The simple gestures, imbued with casual cruelty, along with his signature abruptness, transform this short opera into an immensely impactful production of heart-wrenching significance, freed from the sole stranglehold of its historical context.

Jean-Charles Hoffele, Concert classique

Last night, on the stage of the Comédie de Valence, L’Empereur d’Atlantis has accomplished quite a feat: in one short hour, it managed to play along the entire spectrum of human emotions. This opera, the very first directed by Richard Brunel in Valence, is an unmitigated success, owing to a subtly understated, yet unapologetically modern direction.

Mireille Rossi, Le Dauphiné Libéré

(…) Above all, Brunel is a man of theatre and, as such, he has brought to the opera house the acting that it is sometimes missing – each and every scene hits its mark. This ruthless tale seems to carve deep furrows in the audience’s attention, dark pathways, inexorably leading us to an exceptionally beautiful climax, a supplication to Death, a quasi-religious call to sacrifice that Richard Brunel has successfully sublimated.

Etienne Faye, Revue 491

In this play, created last fall at the Comédie de Valence, Richard Brunel presents us with an exemplary production, as far as the respect of the source material is concerned – he has, for example, forgone his original idea of starting off with a warning articulating the different stages of development of the project – but also in the diligent staging of a polysemic text.

Fabrice Malkani, Forum Opéra

The play is so extraordinarily dense that we are baffled to realize it is only one hour long.

Fabrice Malkani, Forum Opéra

The consistent acting direction confers real cohesion to the play, somewhere between upheaval and nonsense.

Franck Langlois, Magazine Opéra

This shaky little text finds here one of its best adaptations.

Franck Langlois, Magazine Opéra

Der Kaiser von Atlantis oder die Tod-Weiweigerung (The Emperor of Atlantis or The Disobedience of Death)
Viktor Ullmann

Opera in one act composed in Theresienstadt

Libretto Pieter Kien
Music director Jean-Michaël Lavoie
Director Richard Brunel
Dramaturg Catherine Ailloud-Nicolas
Set designer Marc Lainé
Costume designer Claire Risterucci
Lighting designer Christian Pinaud
Assistant director Julien Fišera
Répétiteur Agnès Melchior
Translator (libretto) Laurent Muhleisen

Christian Miedl,
Stephen Owen,
Lucy Schaufer,
Rui Dos Santos,
Ivi Karnezi Bubikopf,
Jean-Baptiste Mouret

Orchestra of the Opéra National de Lyon

Produced by Opéra national de Lyon
Coproduced by La Comédie de Valence, Centre dramatique national Drôme-Ardèche / Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse

Remade in 2015 at the TNP (Théâtre National Populaire) Villeurbanne

Music director Vincent Renaud


Piotr Micinski,
Mikkel Skorpen,
Andromahi Raptis,
Judith Beifuss,
Alexander Kiechle,
Samuel Hasselhorn
and the Orchestra of the Opéra National de Lyon.