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Candide (pronounced "kan-DEED")

Candide, ou l'Optimisme is a French satire (a novella, or short novel) published in 1759 by Voltaire, a French philosopher and writer. Leonard Bernstein wrote an operetta based on Voltaire’s work, and this work was premiered in 1956.

Here is an extremely short and incomplete but good-enough-for-our-purposes summary:

Candide is a young man living in the castle of the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh in Westphalia. He is a simple and innocent man (“Candide” actually means “innocent” or “naïve.”). He falls in love with Cunégonde, the Baron’s beautiful daughter. Upon discovery of their romance, he is kicked out of the castle by the Baron, as Candide is no match for Cunégonde’s nobility. He goes on all kinds of adventures, learns all kinds of things, loses faith in philosophical optimism. Eventually, he marries Cunégonde (who is no longer beautiful) and moves out to a farm with her a few other folks. The troupe is not exactly happy there, until eventually they start discovering ways to find happiness.

Bernstein used material from several of his songs from the operetta for the overture. These songs are:

  • The Best of All Possible Worlds

  • Battle Scene (no words)

  • Oh, Happy We!

  • Glitter and Be Gay

I will make separate posts with videos and lyrics for each of the three songs with words.

For now, enjoy this video of Mr. Bernstein himself conducting his Overture to Candide.


Mr. G.

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