Music: A Gallows Opera

Confronted by a vision of hell, does one stand in silent reverence for suffering or praise the spirit that surmounted it? Last week a Dutch audience faced this dilemma at the première of an opera, The Emperor of Atlantis, which was written in a concentration camp by two Jews. At the end, after a few seconds' pause, the listeners burst into applause for a work that stands on its own as a music drama of great power.

The one-hour chamber opera was composed in 1944 inside Theresienstadt, a "model" camp. The piece was in rehearsal...

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