by Daniel Hathaway
Oberlin Opera’s wonderful mid-March production of Candide combined several layers of brilliance.
First, the source: the anonymous 1759 novella Candide, or the Optimist. Later owned up to by the French Enlightenment philosopher François-Marie Arouet — better known by his nom de plume, Voltaire — it was a deliciously wicked send-up of the absurd teachings of optimist philosophers like Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who taught that everything was for the best “in this best of all possible worlds.”
Then in 1956 came the first staged version of Candide as a comic opera with a witty libretto by Lillian Hellman and a high-spirited score by Leonard Bernstein — originally conceived by Hellman as a play, but Bernstein’s intentions of making it an operetta won out. [Read more…]