commissioned byt eh Metropolitan Opera in commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Discover of America
Opera in three acts, prologue and epilogue.
Libretto (English) by David Henry Hwang, based on a story by Philip Glass.
2 Sopranos, 2 Mezzo sopranos, Tenor, Bass Baritone, 2 Basses
Columbus - bass-baritone
Isabella - mezzo-soprano
Scientist/First Mate - tenor
Commander - soprano
Ship's Doctor/Space Twin 1 - soprano
Second Mate/Space Twin 2 - bass
Earth Twin 1 - mezzo-soprano
Earth Twin 2 - bass
The Voyage is an allegory about the spirit of exploration and the dislocation that must occur whenever different cultures clash. What drives people to travel, what are they looking for? Characters from the past and the future give different answers - also the scientist who travels across the universe without ever leaving his wheelchair. Christopher Columbus, stands for all those eternal travelers - Ulysses, Noah, Flying Dutchman - doomed or destined, alone with his idea on a boat; he is a stand-in for all voyagers, for all those compelled to explore, to question.
© Philip Glass
The Prologue takes place in the present, Act I 15,000 years ago, Act II in 1492, Act III in 2092 and the Epilogue presents Christopher Columbus on his deathbed preparing for his
last journey to the stars. A scientist’s imagination travels freely among the planets. Act I introduces travellers from another planet who crash on Earth, retaining fragmentary
memories of the past and fears for the future. Although the crew survives the crash, the Commander divides the ship’s paired directional crystals among them, physically
obstructing any chance of returning home. Each crew member is instructed to visualise the world they would like to live in and then enter it. Act II features the troubled Columbus on the thirty-second day of his voyage. Queen Isabella’s promises of wealth, titles and power are fading from reality. The space station of Act III finds Space Twins discussing the unlikelihood of discovering life in space. Back on earth, they realise that they have both discovered ‘strange’ crystals. On joining the crystals, they receive a signal from the home planet of the earlier voyagers. The Commander and crew prepare for the voyage to the new planet, anxious about their last moments on earth and Columbus journeys to the stars.