In an unprecedented collaboration between five of Colorado’s arts and cultural organizations, history will be made with their milestone performance of A Journey of the Human Spirit on January 16 and 17 at Denver University’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts. The topics of adversity and the human spirit will be explored in music, opera and dance.
Central City Opera, The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Mizel Arts and Cultural Center and Newman Center Presents have come together in this production that represents community, the true spirit behind the Arts. The performance includes the regional premiere of Viktor Ullmann’s opera, The Emperor of Atlantis, and the world premiere of From Darkness to Light, choreographed by nationally renowned choreographer, Garrett Ammon of Ballet Nouveau Colorado, to the music of Ofer Ben-Amots, an internationally acclaimed Israeli-born composer and chair of the Music Department of Colorado College.
"This timely project provides an opportunity to honor those who have endured great struggles before us,” said Garrett Ammon, artistic director of Ballet Nouveau Colorado. “Even in the darkest of times they were able to create community through art; this is truly something to celebrate.”
The idea of A Journey of the Human Spirit evolved from a conversation between Monika Vischer, classical music host on Colorado Public Radio, and Mizel Arts and Cultural Center/Jewish Community Center CEO Stuart Raynor. The two thought the best way to immerse the audience in the music of the Holocaust era was to partner with other organizations in a large production.
“By ensuring that the voices of those persecuted by the Nazis will be heard, even long after the deaths of both oppressed and oppressors, we take a stand for the right of all present and future artists who may be terrorized by tyrants to be heard,” said Stephen Seifert, executive director, DU’s Newman Center.
The three-stage evening will follow the human journey from the pre-Holocaust era through the immense struggle against adversity and suffering to an era of rebalancing and hope.
Klezmer Music, Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe
Attendees will be greeted by the nouveau klezmer tunes of Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe. Klezmer music is an eastern European tradition, celebrating life and happier times. This genre will not only lead the audience into the opera, but will also be heard throughout the evening, specifically in the music to which the dance From Darkness to Light is choreographed.
Opera, The Emperor of Atlantis
During the Holocaust, many artists spoke out against the destruction of their people and society. Two of these brave individuals were composer, Viktor Ullmann, and librettist, Peter Kien. While imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp/ghetto in 1943, they wrote a thinly-veiled satirical opera on Hitler, The Emperor of Atlantis. Using whatever instruments and artists were available to them in the camp, these two men wrote an extraordinary opera that quietly shouted out against the Nazi persecution. The opera is a testimony to triumph of creativity over adversity.
Dance, From Darkness to Light
Seamlessly integrated at the end of the opera, a new work of dance will round out the experience, taking A Journey of the Human Spirit to a place of light and hope. Choreographed by BNC’s Garrett Ammon and set to an original music by Ofer Ben-Amots’s Concertino, the piece combines eastern European Jewish folk themes with an uplifting modern dynamic.
For more information, visit journey.maccjcc.org. 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 at 303-871-7715 Mon-Fri, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.