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Leonard Bernstein

Composer(s): Leonard Bernstein
Album Title: Candide 
Cat. No.: 80340 (2 CDs)
Genre: Musical Theater/Opera
 
Description: Candide (Opera House Version)

Leonard Bernstein's musical adaptation of Candide started life in 1956 as a musical comedy, became an operetta, was heard several times in concert form, and if not home to roost once and for all in this recorded version, is certainly being cultivated in the place many felt it belonged from the very beginning-the opera house.

By the time Candide opened at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York on December 1, 1956, this question was clarified somewhat by changing the billing from "a musical" to "a comic operetta." But the identity of the piece remained unclear. Audiences at the time did not embrace the show, and it closed after 73 performances.

Candide might have passed into history as a cult musical had not the Masterworks division of Columbia Records, then headed by David Oppenheim, decided to make an original-cast album. It was then-and is now-extremely rare for a major company to record a show that is not a bonafide hit. In the case of Candide, however, the score deserved attention, veteran cast-album producer Goddard Lieberson worked his usual magic, and the recording became successful. That album is responsible for keeping Candide alive.

Then, in 1973, Harold Prince and his collaborators finally made Candide a success. Prince discarded Lillian Hellman's book and hired Hugh Wheeler to go back to Voltaire and create a new libretto. He also hired John Mauceri as the musical director, and Patricia Birch to provide choreography. He also enlisted the help of Stephen Sondheim to make lyric adjustments. Together they were able to do what no one had been able to do before-blend all the elements into cohesive entertainment. The production ran on Broadway for 740 performances.

For those whose introduction to Candide had been by way of the original-cast recording, there were disappointments, as the orchestra was reduced to 13 players, and the music was subservient to the action. But Prince and his collaborators had proved that Candide could work in the theater, and it seemed inevitable that somehow, somewhere, Candide would find its way into a production where the musical values would once again be stressed. This production might even end up where some of those Boston critics in 1956 had suggested the piece belonged-in an opera house. Find its way it did, premiering at the New York City Opera on October 13, 1982, as "Candide-the opera house version."

This 1985 recording with the New York City Opera Chorus and Orchestra is led by John Mauceri and features Erie Mills, David Eisler, John Lankston, Joyce Castle, Scott Reeve, Jack Harrold, James Billings, and Maris Clement. 
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