April 15, 2008
The best of all possible operas
I first read Voltaire's novel in high school French class. Then in 1979 I saw a production of the musical at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music. It made a huge impact on me. The music was phenomenol, the lyrics catchy, and it sure brought Voltaire's 1799 novel to life! I just had to buy the album. Over the years I have also seen concert productions of Candide, as well as televised versions. I especially liked the PBS Great Performances version with Kristin Chenoweth and Patti Lupone. When I read on line that the New York City Opera was reviving it, I knew I had to change my travel plans in order to see the show live.
This production lived up to expectation and memory. It was a romp through gorgeous sets, fancy costumes, and best of all plenty of good singing, dancing and acrobatics. I found it to be very much in the spirit of the 1974 Hal Prince version I am so fond of. And the finale, when the cast singsa cappella "we'll build our house and chop our wood, and make our garden grow" brought me to tears yet again.
Here is the New York Times review of Candide.