It’s part musical, part operetta: Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony are continuing their season-long celebration of the centennial of Leonard Bernstein with a concert performance of his Candide this week. With soloists and the Symphony Chorus, they’ll bring his adaptation of Voltaire’s classic to Davies Symphony Hall from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon.
There’s more information about the performances at the San Francisco Symphony website.
It was reworked many times between the time it was first staged in the mid 1950s and Bernstein’s death in 1990. Michael Tilson Thomas says they’ll be doing a version that had the composers seal of approval. “We’re going to present it in concert version, but one which uses the character of Voltaire/Pangloss to hold the piece together. This is a version that Lenny himself much used, and the piece was worked on over decades by ever-changing teams of people.” He says the hybrid nature of the work led to all of that revising. “I think you can feel in the piece that in some moments it’s trying to be more of an opera, or more of a musical, or more of a revue, or whatever! There was a push-pull there.” The cast includes Meghan Picerno as Cunegonde, Andrew Stenson as Candide, Hadleigh Adams as Maximillian and the Captain, and Michael Todd Simpson narrating as Voltaire and the ever-optimistic Dr. Pangloss.