Candide – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1956
In 1756, a devastating earthquake that almost entirely destroyed Lisbon prompted Francois-Marie-Arouet, also known as Voltaire (1694-1778), to write a poem in which he denounced the philosophical optimism and reliance on providence that pervaded contemporary attitudes among his peers. Another philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, took exception with Voltaire’s attitude, and sent him a long letter in which he defended the importance of providence in human existence. Three years later, Voltaire replied with the publication of Candide, a fictional work, in which he attacked the doctrines of Leibniz and his disciple, Wolf, on optimism, while he proposed life principles intended to teach men how to face adversity and cope with it. Two centuries later, librettist Lillian Hellman, lyricists Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche, and composer Leonard Bernstein freely adopted Voltaire’s tale about incoherence in the world order and the absurdity of life, and turned it into a brilliant musical essay, naturally titled Candide. Beautifully matching the moods of the story and capturing its satiric tones, the musical followed the many misadventures that plagued Voltaire’s characters in their search for The Best Of All Possible Worlds, a catch-all phrase used by the ever-optimistic Dr. Pangloss, tutor of the innocent Candide and the lovely Cunegonde, to describe life in Eden-like Westphalia, a small kingdom in central Europe. But as the happy youngsters are about to get married (Oh, Happy We), war breaks out between Westphalia and its immediate neighbor, Hesse. Westphalia is invaded, and Cunegonde seemingly killed. In all this adversity, Candide takes comfort in the Panglossian doctrine (It Must Be So) and sets out on a journey that will take him far from the place where he was born and raised. His first stop is Lisbon where, in the public square, the Infant Cosmira, a deranged mystic in the caravan of an Arab conjuror, predicts dire happenings. The Inquisition appears in the persons of two very old inquisitors and their lawyer, who immediately sentence many citizens to hang, including Candide and Dr. Pangloss who, it turns out, has survived the Westphalian disaster. But just as the sentence is about to be carried out, a devastating earthquake destroys the city, killing everyone except Candide. Now faced with the loss of his mentor and his darling Cunegonde, Candide decides to go to Paris. While he is unable to reconcile Dr. Pangloss’s concepts with the harsh reality of the recent events, he still believes that the fault must lie within himself rather than in the philosophy of optimism. Meanwhile in Paris, Cunegonde, who didn’t die in Westphalia after all, has become a demi-mondaine in a house shared by a Marquis and a Sultan. A party is in progress. Goaded by on Old Lady who serves as her duenna, Cunegonde arrays herself in her jewels – Glitter And Be Gay. Candide stumbles onto the scene and is amazed to find his beloved still alive. Confronted by the Marquis and the Sultan, he kills both, and flees with Cunegonde, with the Old Lady in tow. Encountering a group of devout Pilgrims on their way to the New World, they sail with them, and arrive in Buenos Aires where they are taken as slaves to the palace of the Governor. An old street cleaner, the pessimistic Martin, warns Candide of dire things in the future. Meanwhile, the Governor serenades Cunegonde (My Love) who agrees to live in the palace, at the behest of the Old Lady – I’m Easily Assimilated. Candide, fired by reports about Eldorado, a land of wonders, manages to escape once again and sets off to seek his fortune there, planning to return for Cunegonde later. In the oppressive heat of Buenos Aires, Cunegonde, the Old lady and the Governor display their fraying nerves (Quiet), and the Governor, determined to get rid of these tiresome ladies, has both of them tied up in bags and carried to a boat in the harbor. When Candide returns from Eldorado, his pockets full of gold, and searches for Cunegonde (Eldorado), the Governor informs him that the women have already sailed for Europe, and Candide eagerly purchases a leaky ship from the Governor to go after them. But as the Governor and his entourage watch from a terrace, the ship carrying Candide and Martin casts off and immediately sinks – Bon Voyage. Candide and Martin have miraculously been saved, but are now floating about the ocean on a raft. Martin is devoured by a shark, only to be replaced by Dr. Pangloss, who survived the Lisbon earthquake it seems. Candide is overjoyed to be reunited with his former teacher, who proceeds to repair the damages done his basic philosophy by Candide’s negative experiences. The scene shifts to a luxurious palazzo in Venice, where Cunegonde turns up as a scrubwoman and the Old Lady as a woman of fashion – What’s The Use? Candide and Dr. Pangloss appear and are dazzled by the merriment, the wine, and the gambling, to the point where Candide is swindled out of his remaining gold by on avaricious crowd – Venice Gavotte. Penniless and utterly disillusioned, Candide returns to the ruined Westphalia, where he finds Dr. Pangloss, Cunegonde and the Old Lady, who have preceded him, still carrying with them a last spark of optimism. Candide, however, has had enough of the foolish Panglossian ideals and tells them all that the only way to live is to try to make some sense of life and Make Our Garden Grow.
Dr. Pangloss: Max Adrian Cunegonde: Barbara Cook Candide: Robert Rounseville Baron: Robert Mesrobian Maximillian: Louis Edmond King Of Hesse: Conrad Bain Hesse’s General:Norman Boland Man: Boris Aplon Woman: Doris Okerson Dutch Lady: Margaret Roy Dutch Man: Tony Drake Atheist: Robert Rue Arab Conjuror: Robert Barry Infant Casmira: Maria Novotna Lawyer: William Chapman Very, Very Old Inquisitor: Conrad Bain Junkman: Robert Cosden Wine-Seller: Stanley Grover Bear: Charles Morrell Bear Man: Robert Rue Alchemist: Charles Aschmann Grocery Lady: Margaret Roy Beggars: Margaret Roy, Robert Cosden, Thomas Pyle French Lady: Maud Scheerer Old Lady: Irra Petina Marquis Milton: Boris Aplon Sultan Milton: Joseph Bernard Pilgrim Father: Robert Rue Pilgrim Mother: Dorothy Krebill Captain: Conrad Bain Martin: Max Adrian Governor Of Buenos Aires: William Olvis Officers: George Blackwell, Tony Drake, Thomas Pyle Ferone: William Chapman Madame Sofronia: Irra Petina Duchess: Maud Scheerer Prefect Of Police: Norman Roland Prince Ivan: Robert Mesrobian Scrub Lady: Barbara Cook Duke Of Naples: Charles Aschmann Croupier: Robert Barry Lady Cutely: Dori Davis Lady Toothly: George Blackwell Lady Soothly: Fred Jones Lady Richmond: Thomas Pyle Singers: PeggyAnn Alderman, Dori Davis, Naomi Farr, Mollie Knight, Dorothy Krebill, Vivian Laurence, Lois Monroe, Doris Okerson, Margaret Roy, Mara Shorr, Dorothy White; Charles Aschmann, Robert Barry, George Blackwell, Jack DeLon, Tony Drake, Stanley Grover, Fred Jones, Henry Lawrence, Robert Mesrobian, Thomas Pyle, Robert Rue.