A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “C” is for CANDIDE


Candide, an operetta with music composed by Leonard Bernstein, was based on the novella of the same name by Voltaire (published in 1759). The operetta was first performed in 1956 with a libretto (the text used in an opera or musical) by Lillian Hellman; but since 1974 it has been generally performed with a book by Hugh Wheeler, which is more faithful to Voltaire’s novel. The primary lyricist was the poet Richard Wilbur. Other contributors to the text included John Latouche, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, Stephen Sondheim, John Mauceri, John Wells, and Bernstein himself. Although unsuccessful at its premiere, Candide has overcome the unenthusiastic reaction of early audiences and critics and achieved enormous popularity. It is very popular among major music schools as a student show because of the quality of its music and the opportunities it offers to student singers. (source: Wikipedia)

There are so many great songs in this musical, but “Glitter and Be Gay” is one of the favorites. Here, in the New York Philharmonic’s concert staging of Candide in 2004, Kristin Chenoweth displays comic genius all while tackling the very difficult vocals. (And yes, that’s Patti LuPone as The Old Lady).


Bonus! See the wonderful 28-year-old Robert Goulet as Sir Lancelot in Camelot sing “If Ever I Would Leave You.” The original 1960 production ran for 873 performances on Broadway.

V is for Voltaire

Photo credit: Wikipedia

During my sophomore year in college, our musical theatre production was “Candide,” based on the 18th-century satire written by French philosopher Voltaire.  Candide is a young man living a sheltered life and seeing his world as a perfect place.  Candide’s optimism fades as he ventures out into the world and witnesses its hardships and pain.  In the end, Candide learns that it is best to “cultivate one’s own garden.”  Make your peace and happiness in your small corner.

I won’t supply a biography of Voltaire; you can find it online if you’re interested.  Instead, I’ll remember a play where lifelong friendships were forged; we rehearsed through a blizzard; our “theatre” was a former gymnasium with terrible acoustics, no secured seating (folding chairs), and a “green room” that doubled as a ladies’ lounge.  It didn’t matter, though.  It was the best of all possible productions.

Here is a clip from 2004, the New York Philharmonic revival of “Candide,” featuring Kristin Chenoweth: