British conductor Wayne Marshall and American director Daniel Fish, both fans of the best American musicals, have teamed up with choreographer Annie-B Parson to tackle this work by West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein. Inspired by Voltaire’s famous philosophical tale published in 1759, the show was a “flop” when it premiered on Broadway in 1956, but Candide and its songs went on to become legendary.
Young Candide’s mentor, Pangloss (a tireless optimist, convinced that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”), Martin (an eternal pessimist), Cunégonde (raped 100 times and reborn 100 times), the Old Lady and Cacambo struggle to survive the worst of what awaits them through some wonderfully inventive musical numbers. And what if, as Candide concludes, we should simply "cultivate our garden"? That is, our intelligence, knowledge and critical faculties, against all contingencies and beliefs?
An opera in 2 acts
Libretto by Lillian Hellman (1956), based on Candide or The Optimiste by Voltaire
World première in New York, 1956
Revised in 1989
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