Preview: A Journey of the Human Spirit

October 2012

Collaboration is the key to many a successful cultural venture. We've seen it work locally in everything from Carry On by Ballet Nouveau Colorado (BNC) and Paper Bird to Denver Restaurant Week. And group effort is at the heart of A Journey of the Human Spirit, a dance meets song meets opera production coming in January.

Five of Colorado's top arts and cultural institutions—Newman Center Presents, Mizel Arts and Culture Center, Central City Opera, the Colorado Symphony, and BNC—are working together to create a three-part production that explores the human spirit's ability to overcome adversity.

Part 1: The pre-show will treat the audience to klezmer music (a form of instrumental folk music started by the Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe) performed by Hal Aqua and the Lost Tribe.

Part 2: The highlight of the production is also its nadir: A performance of The Emperor of Atlantis, the last opera written by composer Viktor Ullmann, which was penned in 1943 while Ullmann was imprisoned in Theresienstadt concentration camp. The satirical story about Hitler (aka the emperor) being defeated by Death never reached the stage while Ullmann was alive. After seeing a dress rehearsal, the Gestapo deported the composer to Auschwitz, where he was killed two days later.

Part 3: But this event is about the power of humanity to survive and thrive in the face of hardship, and so enters a world premiere dance choreographed by BNC artistic director Garrett Ammon. This companion piece to the bleak opera is meant to take viewers "from darkness to light" and will be accompanied by original music by Ofer Ben-Amots.

A Journey of the Human Spirit plays at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts (on the University of Denver campus) at 7:30 p.m. on January 16 and 17. Tickets are available here.

Follow assistant editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger.