Bernstein’s Candide Cheltenham Festival

Thursday 12th July 2018, 6:30PM

Cheltenham Town Hall, Pillar Room, Cheltenham GL50 1QA

Conductor: Oliver Gooch

Cast of Iford Arts

Candide is a breathtaking work, hovering somewhere between opera and operetta, defying description. Candide – our innocent hero, an idealistic optimist, is taken on a whirligig world quest, encountering an absurd series of unfortunate events, learning the lessons of life. A Pythonesque sensibility pervades the tale, satirising the foibles and hypocrisies of man and probing the big questions which haunt us all.

As we follow the imagined fortunes of the four young leading characters, the action lurches from one far-flung location to another with gleeful accounts of human suffering and merry lampooning of revered notions. The brilliant overture has become one of the most frequently performed orchestral compositions by a 20th century American composer. And after that, composer Leonard Bernstein gallivants through every dance form he can think of: tango, polka, mazurka, Schottische, Venetian waltz, English folk song, gavotte, barcarole, Neapolitan bel canto, Germanic chorale and operatic coloratura (with its favourite showstopping lollipop aria for many leading sopranos Glitter and be Gay). Yet despite the cynical tone of the original novella, Bernstein’s fabulous music takes us somewhere else entirely, especially in the much-loved, divinely radiant finale, Make Our Garden Grow.

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