Philip Glass : The Voyage: An Opera in Three Acts Import
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I have awaited this recording for years - The Voyage is some of Glass' best music for orchestra and voice. It's powerful, lyrical, triumphant, tender, introspective, and gorgeous at various times. The libretto is a artistic and well-done exploration of what "exploration" is, and what drives so many human hearts to wonder "What's over there....?"
While all of Glass' music is worth having, on the scale of "what should the new fan buy first?", I'd put this in the first five of essential Glass compositions to know.
The plot of the opera is best described as a pageant of poetic questions of man's quest of the unknown. The opera's empassioned Prologue features a scientist and chorus posing questions about the universe, the first act is set on an alien spaceship crashing into Earth during the Ice Age, its crew members subsequently exploring their personal callings on the new planet. The second act is set on Columbus' 32nd day at sea. Here with his crew and Queen Isabella (who is only presnt in his thoughts), the composer presents a dreamy reflection of the many hopes and fears of this uncertain voyage at sea. The third act is set in 2092 at the launch of a space shuttle with astronauts seeking out radio signals from a distant planet. The opera ends with Columbus on his deathbed. He again with Queens Isabella share a final aria in which he clearly states his intentions as an explorer.
Musically the work is standard Glass. However though his chugging rythyms and ever present reams of arrepegios are also coupled here with subtle experimentations in harmony, disonance, and irregular timbres. Throughout the opera themes flow in and out of a sort of aural tapestry creating a sense of dramatic tension that is usually not present in Glass' work.Read more ›
The multi-layered libretto, by David Henry Hwang analyzes the search for knowledge as a basic human need, exceeding limitations, but with a cost to oneself or to others. The prologue with a wheelchair-bound scientist introduces the quest with a graphic description of physical limitations from which the questioning mind seeks liberation. The next four scenes (Acts one to three and an Epilogue) alternate imagery of space travel, where the cost is to oneself, and Columbus' voyage, where the cost was mostly to others.
In the first space travel section, Act I, explorers crash land on earth. The theme of four crystals is introduced which appear to represent components of human society. Three of these are technology or science, arts, and religion or spirituality. The fourth, curiosity or the quest for knowledge is saved for the spaceship commander. In her encounter with cave-dwelling earthlings, a colonial encounter is examined from both sides, as the commander and the earthlings each wonder what the other will want from them and how they will be treated. Each fears they will be overwhelmed by the other.
The second exploration of the space travel theme comprises Act III, which takes place 600 years after Columbus' voyage, 100 years after the opera's premiere. The lineup of world leaders attending the launch may have seemed odd in 1992, but 14 years later it seems prescient.Read more ›
Rather that fester in the neeless and meaninless debate about Columbus (i.e. he didn't "discover" anything, he brought pain and suffering to the natives, his arrival was a harbinger for many other bad things to come). These issues to not go unnoticed by Glass, as they are often acknowledged in the text by David Henry Hwang, but Glass chose instead to focus on the romantic notion of Columbus's life: "what drives people to leave their homes and safety in order to go out and explore?".
It is this sense of venerating the explorer's spirit that drives the opera. The Prologue is delivered by a Scientist (stephen hawking(another exploer of the universe)) musing about the nature of time and space.
The three Acts of the opera, which sometime allude to events in Columbus's life, take place in three episodes. Act I is science fiction: a tale of explorers of the universe arriving at earth 500 years before Colmbus' Voyage. They crash and their Captain (a woman) has a culture clash with the Natives who carry her away.
Act II has Columbus interacting with Queen Isabella before he sets out on his trip. She promises him riches and the glory of God for the Voyage he is about to take. This is quickly then seen as a memory COlumbus is having on his boat the day before he arrives in the New World.
Act III is 1000 year later, as a rocket ship prepares to launch, dignitaries of the Universe see to the departure.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have been trying to buy this since 1992, when it was played at the 500 year commemoration of the discovery of the Americas. But only now was I able to find it and buy it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Guillermo B. Fierro
This one grows on you. Its not as immediate as say Waiting for the Barbarians or In the Penal Colony, but after a little bit of time and a few listens its certainly gets more... Read morePublished 12 months ago by M W.
I waited for years for this opera to be recorded. I was a bit disappointed. I recorded, live, the original broadcast from the Met. I live in Sierra Vista, AZ. Read morePublished on December 31, 2012 by Charles G Marlowe
When this opera premiered in 1992 I made it a point to tape the Met broadcast off the air. Then I waited for a CD. Finally after so many years they recorded it. Read morePublished on January 5, 2007 by Oliver Frick
Finally on CD almost 15 years after its Met Opera premiere, The Voyage contains plenty of overwrought operatic tedium, but also some choral passages of surprising power and beauty.Published on December 20, 2006 by svf
I had heard this years ago and did not know a CD was available. It is typical Glass. Either you like him or you don't. I do. The recording was quite good.Published on November 9, 2006 by David L. Myers
Philip Glass's opera is the most tedious one for the listener that he has written since his first, "Einstein on the Beach. Read morePublished on October 30, 2006 by Stephen O. Murray
I never understood why this opera was not given a recording much earlier. In any event, here it is, almost 15 years later, and the wait has been worth it. Read morePublished on September 20, 2006 by AndyNYC