Christophe Colomb

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This article is about the opera. For the explorer, see Christopher Columbus.

Christophe Colomb (Christopher Columbus) is an opera in two parts by the French composer Darius Milhaud. The poet Paul Claudel wrote the libretto based on his own play about the life of Christopher Columbus, Le Livre de Christophe Colomb. The opera was first performed at the Staatsoper, Berlin on 5 May 1930 in a German translation by Rudolph Stephan Hoffmann. Milhaud thoroughly revised the work and produced a second version around 1955. The opera is on a large scale and requires many resources for its staging. As in many of his other works, Milhaud employs polytonality in parts of the score.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast
Conductor: Erich Kleiber
Young Columbus baritone Theodor Scheidl
Old Columbus bass Emanuel List
Queen Isabella of Spain soprano Delia Reinhardt
The wife of Columbus soprano Margherita Perras
Majordomo tenor Fritz Soot
The King of Spain bass
Master of ceremonies tenor
Narrator spoken role


The opera tells the life of Christopher Columbus in a series of episodes which avoid chronological order and are sometimes allegorical.