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Author: admin, 27.10.2014. Category: Organic Foods

There isn’t much I could say about the musical Candide that hasn’t been written about before. Robin Buck makes a wryly deadpan narrator as Voltaire, and is understatedly befuddled as Pangloss, the inanely unshakable advocate of optimism.
Candide’s various fellow hard-luck travelers include Maximilian, Cunegonde’s snooty fop of a brother (Arnold Livingston Geis), the coquettish chambermaid Paquette (Danielle Marcelle Bond), a faithful manservant Cacambo (Roberto Perlas Gomez, occasionally indiscernible) and the cynical pessimist Martin (Zeffin Quinn Hollis, strong in both voice and character).
So while I loved hearing these great singers, I found myself distracted and somewhat disengaged.
From the 2005-"Live on Broadway"-version, with the New York Philharmonic under conductor Marin Alsop. Leonard Bernstein created one of our greatest Broadway scores when he – along with Lillian Hellman (book), Richard Wilbur (lyrics) and John Latouche (additional lyrics) – adapted Voltaire’s 1758 novel satirizing the mores of the Enlightenment (which was published three years before the Vatican placed the novella on its index of forbidden books).
First, the vocals are quite demanding – especially when the more than two hours of music is performed eight times a week. Hellman’s version, called “academic, blunt, and barefaced” by Walter Kerr, was tossed in 1973 and replaced with one by Hugh Wheeler for Hal Prince’s version that lost half of the music, which in turn was rewritten by John Caird in 1999 for the Royal National Theatre. After proposing marriage to his love, Candide is kicked out of a Baron’s home – an Edenic paradise – and he and other characters go through ridiculously unendurable trials such as torture, jail, lost love, hanging, and the boredom of sameness and riches.

The big problem is that it feels like we’re watching high schoolers who think that slamming metal folding chairs and donning silly costumes makes for enchanting theater.
French Audio Classic Literature VideoBook with synchronized text, interactive transcript, and closed captions in multiple languages. The haphazard setting has prop boxes, a giant muslin sheet, an overhead projector, music stands – you get the picture. Occasionally, the staging meets song perfectly, and we have the rousing “What’s the Use?” But to have the upstage orchestra be entirely blocked and audibly drowned out by actors setting the stage during the overture only made the opening noisy, disharmonious, and annoying. Just as Voltaire burlesques society in a literate manner, so, too, does Bernstein with music, the most well-known being “Glitter and Be Gay,” a coloratura aria introduced by Barbara Cook when the show opened in 1956. Last Saturday, the glorious singers of Long Beach Opera – aided by Kristof Van Grysperre and his 14-piece orchestra – proved why the vocals are always worth hearing (regardless of the which version of Candide you are seeing). While Caird’s adaptation sticks closest to Voltaire’s book, many musical gems have been cut. Once Buck puts on some funky red-rimmed glasses (rose-colored optimism?) and becomes Pangloss, the action appears more straightforward in a Story Theater fashion. Either LBO needed more rehearsal or it should have just settled on a staged concert version.

There are also trios, quarters, waltzes, sublime ballads, a devilish tango, hornpipes, and many other riveting, jaw-dropping, cream-covered offerings. But even with an updated book, director David Schweizer’s unwieldy execution of a clever concept only made the tale drag. That way, we could have concentrated more on Bernstein’s genius and not the libretto’s problems. Cawelti has five puppeteers from his Rogue Artists Ensemble help out, but the results simply aren’t as imaginative as the concept. This inspirational finale from Candide gives you a wonderful opportunity to expose your singers to one of the most enduring stage works of our time. Plus, the puppeteers are mute; I suppose operatic puppeteers are in demand, but it sure would have helped some of the choral numbers. Nonetheless, the eight-member cast sounded wonderful (when they could be understood — sound issues were all around).

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