Concert performance of Leonard Bernstein’s comic operetta
Book by Hugh Wheeler after Voltaire, lyrics by Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Leonard Bernstein
November 8, 2018 in Vanemuine Concert House (Vanemuine Concert House 20)
November 10, 2018 in Estonia Concert Hall
Conductor: Vello Pähn
Stage Director: Marko Matvere
The eternal quest of an eternal optimist … Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” mixes the best of musical theatre, opera and Monty Pythonesque humour.
On August 25, 2018 a centennial will pass from the birth of a beloved composer, conductor, musician and cultural ambassador Leonard Bernstein. In the two-year period from the composer’s 99th and 101st anniversaries, more and less known works by Bernstein will be performed within a world-wide festival. Estonian National Opera will join the anniversary programme in November, giving a concert performance of “Candide” that marks its first ever performance in Estonia. In spring the theatre will include in its repertoire the blockbusting musical “West Side Story”, featuring musical stars from both Estonia and abroad.
“Candide” takes the audience on a quest for love, happiness and the perfect world through war, earthquakes, famine and heartbreak, taking aim at social mores, politics, superstitions and unhindered optimism. The ever-hopeful Dr. Pangloss teaches his pupils – the innocent Candide, the beautiful Cunegonde, the vain Maximillian and the promiscuous Paquette – that no matter what happens, this is “the best of all possible worlds.” Soon after, Candide is driven from his home, separated from his love Cunegonde, recruited into the army, brought before the Spanish Inquisition, swindled out of a fortune and shipwrecked on a desert island. Despite epic disasters and unbelievable misfortune Candide holds fast to his optimistic belief and eventually finds contentment in a less than perfect world. Bernstein’s witty, tuneful score is a delightful pastiche of musical styles, mixing everything from Viennese waltzes to soaring arias to Latin tangos and Broadway musicals.
Composing “West Side Story” and “Candide” in tandem let to some surprising switches of material between the two works. Tony and Maria’s duet, “One Hand, One Heart”, was originally intended for Candide and Cunegonde. The music of the satirical number “Gee, Officer Krupke” was annexed form the Venice scene in “Candide”, where its punch line (to Latouche’s lyrics) had been, “Where does it get you in the end?” The traffic flowed both ways. The marriage duet in “Candide” “O Happy We”, started life as a song for Tony and Maria in a tea party scene that was dropped.
Vello Pähn: “”Candide“ is Estonian National Opera’s homage to composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein on his 100th anniversary. It is a rare piece in world’s opera houses. The composer has written a concert version of it as well and we will put it on stage with some scenic action. “Candide” is a unique piece that plays with the borders of genres, uniting great music and comic action. The operetta is full of well-known and unknown melodies that makes it always exiting for the audience.”