Just returned from watching the last Dress Rehearsal of Shepherd’s production of “Candide”, the great operetta by Leonard Bernstein ( and Hugh Wheeler, Lillian Hellman, John LaTouche, Richard Wilbur, Dorothy Parker and Stephen Sondheim.)
For a student production it was pretty good… the Candide and Cunegunde were excellent and the rest of the cast certainly could sing.
This is a difficult show for student performers… hell, it’s a difficult show for professionals, and this cast, chorus and orchestra did a fine job. The staging was based on the Lonny Price concert production that was done with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, also seen on PBS. This is a fairly tight version and keeps the orchestra onstage throughout the show.
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I don’t know why it is, but, standing in the shower this morning, I was overtaken by the score from “Carousel” and started singing Billy Bigelow‘s Soliloquy out loud, persisting until it’s completion as I was getting dressed. Byron, our younger dog, lay on the bedroom floor staring at me.
I hadn’t been thinking about Carousel… I don’t recall thinking about it and I hadn’t dreamed about it. I have been thinking about Candide, however… since I am reviewing the Shepherd University production next week for WSHC radio. I’ll be going to a dress rehearsal in order to get the review on the air timed with the Friday opening on the 4th.
I have been playing a couple of versions of Candide from my iTunes collections… primarily the Harold Prince version from 1974 and the British Royal National Theatre version from 1999 (and somewhere I have the Original Cast album , sometimes known as the Lillian Hellman version, whose story and Richard Wilbur lyrics and Barbara Cook soprano vocals, many prefer over the revisions… but I don’t know where it is right now. On a CD download somewhere (although I have a 33 1/3 rpm record somewhere as well.) That is where the thoughts of Carousel may have come up.
Each of the two musicals have significant overtures which often stand by themselves in legitimate Orchestra performances. Richard Rogers’ Carousel Waltz and Bernstein’s Candide Overture (available on YouTube with Bernstein conducting it shortly before his death) are both splendid, long (4 minutes or so) pieces which are quickly recognized even by people who have not seen either shows. That’s a thought which may have brought Carousel into my mind this morning.
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