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July 9, 2018

“Do you believe,’ said Candide, ‘that men have always massacred each other as they do to-day, that they have always been liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools?’
Do you believe,’ said Martin, ‘that hawks have always eaten pigeons when they have found them?”

965677324The satire by Voltaire and the Bernstein musical Candide seem newly relevant to current events, and so I was happy when I was recently given tickets for all four of us to see the Ohio Light Opera Company’s production based on the 1973 version, the one with the soundtrack that consists of only one LP record and includes the song “I am So Easily Assimilated,” which my brother and I sang all over Spain last summer.

The Ohio Light Opera staging of the “Auto-da-fe” song highlighted the delight of the “deplorables” in the sufferings of others, rather than repeating the sports event staging more common in the 1980’s. The singers and actors did well at enunciating the words clearly so we could understand all the jokes that have always delighted me most, like both armies celebrating victory after a battle, the cleric who has just preached an hour-long sermon on charity refusing to give anything to poor, starving Candide, and the hero and heroine singing “You were dead you know, you were shot and bayonetted too, that is very true, oh, but love will find a way.”

The tenor who played Candide, Stephen Faulk, had the most open, earnest, and guileless expression I’ve ever seen, in all my years of viewing different productions of Candide. My kids, who have heard us singing these songs throughout their lives, enjoyed finally getting to see what happens on stage during Cunegonde’s big number “Glitter and Be Gay.” And the finale, “Make Our Garden Grow,” was sung by one of the most beautiful choruses I’ve ever heard.

There was no cow dropping dead at the end, so I guess they were trying to give us hope.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2018 10:21 am

    Sounds like a fun production! I have not read the book and had no idea the play was a musical!

    • July 12, 2018 11:35 am

      It’s one of those musicals that has been worked and re-worked over the years. It was beloved by Leonard Bernstein, and Lillian Hellman wrote some of the lyrics.
      You don’t need to have read Voltaire to enjoy it!

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