Leonard Bernstein's Candide (Great Performances)
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Taught in childhood to believe they live in "the best of all possible worlds," the young characters struggle to preserve their optimism through a harrowing sequence of war, famine, shipwreck, piracy, slavery, rape, and disease with a sparkle in their eyes and a tune on their lips, until, with difficulty, they finally reach a sense of reality.
Candide spans the traditional division between opera and Broadway. The soloists, all headliners, are recruited from both worlds. Broadway is represented by Patti LuPone, who became a legend in Evita, and Tony award winner Kristin Chenoweth. Paul Groves and Stanford Olsen have distinguished operatic backgrounds. They all sing Leonard Bernstein's catchy tunes and the show's clever lyrics with gorgeous voices, a lot of acting skill and a witty, flippant response to Voltaire's cynical (or, rather, realistic) philosophy. --Joe McLellan
- Includes liner notes by Lonny Price
Top Customer Reviews
Sir Thomas Allen is superb as Dr. Pangloss who doubles as the narrator of the concert. Paul Groves and Patti LuPone are both excellent. But the star of this Candide is surely the lovely Kristin Chenoweth as Cunegonde, who in addition to having a magnificient voice shows that she is a natural comedienne and actress. This recording of Candide immediately goes to the top of the list. Now, if only we could have Bernstein's own production of Candide recorded live at the Barbican Theatre in London. That recording under the Deutsche Grammophon label is yet to appear on DVD.
I should comment on the camerawork which received criticism from a previous reviewer. It is a mark of the electric quality of this bravura performance that most viewers don't even notice the occasionally almost amateurish shakiness of the camera. The cameraman was shaky at times and faces occasionally went in and out of focus but a large part of what I initially attributed to poor camerawork was in fact artificially introduced motion artifacts. This is a problem with the DVD encoding and not the camera. These cause apparent jumps in the picture. But this is present only in DVD players with low end video processors.Read more ›
On-going admiration made the original cast album a favorite in theatre circles, and over the years there have been numerous attempts to revive CANDIDE--but each attempt proved problematic at best. Even when Hellman's script was discarded, the show simply proved impossible to stage... until 2004, when director Lonny Price staged the piece for a limited engagement at Lincoln Center.
Like most post-1956 directors, Price largely discarded the Hellman script. He also went quite a bit further: he makes no effort to "stage" CANDIDE in a traditional style. Placing no less than the New York Philharmonic and Westminister Symphonic Choir in the middle of the stage, using a minimum of props and even fewer costumes, Price has his actors romp through the orchestra and play directly and pointedly to the audience--and the result is theatre at its most theatrical and most uniquely powerful.
The cast is superior. Paul Groves and Kristin Chenoweth offer memorable vocals in the leading roles of Candide and his lady love Cunegonde, and while Chenoweth doesn't manage to best Barbara Cook's memorable performance she at least equals it; in her hands the famous "Glitter and be Gay" proves as comic as it is beautiful. Sir Thomas Allen provides tremendous stability in multiple roles, including the misguided Dr. Pangloss.Read more ›
Hearing Bernstein's score played by this huge marvelous orchestra and sung by a cast/chorus that has the right balance of excellent voices AND the exuberance necessary for "musical theatre" is a treat.
Price has used the very limited staging opportunities of Avery Fisher Hall to bring fun and life to a staged concert. It reinforces that usually, simplicity is the best choice if the material is solid.
The use of chorus-as-card-section is great fun. His casting is great fun - Paul Groves in lederhosen is always a believable innocent Candide. Who'd have guessed that bald, bespectacled Jeff Blumenkrantz is perfect as the narcissistic Maximillian. Sir Thomas Allen as Pangloss: nothing short of brilliant. And clearly conductor Marin Alsop and the orchestra are having great fun as well.
What I don't understand is why Price allowed the staging and the actors to drift into "cute" and "indulgent" at various points in the production.
Cute: at one of the most touching points of the story - when Candide begins his journey into the world - with nothing but optimism to sustain him - Price screws it up. Competing with Paul Groves sensitive and beautiful performance of "It Must Be So," is the cheap gimmick of the chorus passing Candide's beloved possessions down the row and into his roll-on bag .... A baseball glove, a Frisbee, and a cherished West Side Story album (huge laughs from Bernstein fans long before we know what they're laughing at) then the thump thump thump as the roller bag goes down stairs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good performance, partly staged. The concert performance conducted by Bernstein is superior. Why certain scenes were cut is unclear. Read morePublished 15 days ago by P. Salus
Defective CD--couldn't play it on any device. Returned it.Published 1 month ago by Elizabeth E. Thompson
A great DVD of the concert presentation of Bernstein's "Candide". Kristin Chenoweth, Patti Lupone, and the entire cast are wonderful.Published 2 months ago by Bruce Hood
This semi-staged production of Candide ,directed by Lonny Price, shows that an expensive fully-staged version of an opera is not always needed. Read morePublished 4 months ago by William Hall
I imagined that I would never need another DVD of this superb piece from Leonard Bernstein, having loved his own version, committed to disc not long before his death. Read morePublished 5 months ago by John C Holbert
Excellent musical. It also had some comedic moments. I enjoyed it. Best viewed twice.Published 6 months ago by M. Erlandson
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