The worst of all possible worlds

voltaire.jpgThe Czech premiere of Candide is as troubled as the piece
By Steffen Silvis [Prague Post, 31 May 2006]
Is there any piece of theater outside of the “Scottish play” with a more troubled history than Leonard Bernstein’s Candide? The maestro’s Broadway operetta, based loosely on Voltaire’s hilariously scathing novella, has had no less than two different books, with lyrics patched in and discarded by a roll-call of some of America’s greatest writers and theater artists: Dorothy Parker, Richard Wilbur, Lillian Hellman (who also supplied the first book), John Latouche and Stephen Sondheim. If Candide contains some of Bernstein’s finest music, it also comes with a rickety structure that demands a very talented team to interpret it.