Music: Atonal Antarctic

On a bare stage beneath a jagged ice floe, a chorus of penguins sang a solemn farewell to the explorer, who had just lurched off into the Antarctic night. The audience was not sure what it was watching, but the composer had no doubts. Said Winfried Zillig: "It's pure opera."

German Atonalist Zillig wrote his opera The Sacrifice in 1937, but the work had only three performances until its present revival at West Germany's Kassel Opera House. Based on a play by the late expressionist writer Reinhard Goering,* Sacrifice tells the story of Robert Scott's last, tragic expedition to...

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