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Letter to the Editor

April 28, 2010

An Open Letter to the Cast & Director of the UNH Opera Workshop 2010:

It was my good fortune to attend the UNH Opera Workshop's April 17 performance of "Der Kaiser von Atlantis" (The Emperor of Atlantis) by Peter Kien and an inspiring pre-intermission selection of other Holocaust-related musical and literary creations. I am writing to congratulate the cast, orchestra and chorus and their director, David Ripley.

First, I cannot imagine that, having dared to take on works of such humanly difficult and engaging, musically challenging nature, any of the performers will ever forget the creative and collaborative experience they have had. Secondly, the concentration, acting skill, musical and linguistic mastery evident in the performances by actors, orchestra and soloists, performing in German and English, deserve special note. The musicologist and the German colleague from Boston who joined me were amazed that this production was by undergraduates. 

Thirdly, it is gratifying that works whose creators for the most part perished in Auschwitz and other camps are being studied in depth and performed in Durham. Professr Ripley deserves kudos for persisting in his vision of bringing both this program and the larger "Kaddish" project to this community, especially to UNH students. Having visited Terezin and learned of the scope of dramatic, musical, visual and literary works produced there by artists facing deportation and death, I hardly expected to be treated on my own campus to a live performance of a relatively unknown work such as "Der Kaiser von Atlantis", the very survival of which is a miracle in itself.

Thanks are due to the UNH Parents Fund, the UNH Endowed Fund for Holocaust Education and the music department for supporting the year-long "Echoes of the Holocaust" project. We can now anticipate its culmination on November 14 with the full performance of New Hampshire composer Lawrence Siegel's "Kaddish".

Nancy Lukens
Professor Emerita of German & Women's Studies nancy.lukens@unh.edu


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