The Kennedy Center


Washington National Opera: Candide

Saturday, May 5, 2018 - Saturday, May 26, 2018

Leonard Bernstein at 100 Washington National Opera

In Leonard Bernstein's funny, philosophical, and fast-paced take on Voltaire's biting satire, very bad things happen to very good people (and plenty of bad ones too) as a terrific ensemble cast quick-change their way through an effervescent score that includes such classic tunes as "Make Our Garden Grow" and "Glitter and Be Gay."

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Happily ever after has finally met its match.
Music by Leonard Bernstein / Book Adapted from Voltaire by Hugh Wheeler in a New Version by John Caird / Lyrics by Richard Wilbur with Additional Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, and Leonard Bernstein
In English with Projected English Titles
Production from The Glimmerglass Festival
Part of the Kennedy Center Leonard Bernstein at 100 celebration
“A glorious evening! Very much a Candide for our times”Opera News

Embrace a sunny outlook and everything will be OK, right? Not so in Leonard Bernstein's funny, philosophical, and fast-paced take on Voltaire's biting satire, which annihilates any notions of hope with its dizzying display of human depravity and catastrophic disasters. When young Candide's marriage proposal to a baron's daughter doesn't quite go as planned, this naïve student of optimism is thrust into an eye-opening odyssey across lands near and far, discovering the horrors of existence at every turn.
War! Earthquakes! Slavery! Disease! Very bad things happen to very good people (and plenty of bad ones too) as a terrific ensemble cast quick-change their way through dozens of colorful characters, performing a witty and effervescent score that includes such classic tunes as "The Best of All Possible Worlds," "Make Our Garden Grow," and "Glitter and Be Gay." Through all its hysterical scouring of 18th-century wickedness and woe, WNO's first-ever production of Candide still finds a way to move and inspire with life-affirming lessons that, surprisingly, ring just as true today.

Performance Timing:  Act I - 76 min.; Intermission - 25 min.; Act II - 63 min.
"Despite the comedy and incredible music, no other opera shows the tragedy of human nature so candidly, as it were. Yet we will always have hope!"--Alek Shrader
"I have loved this work for years and am looking forward to bringing a young vivaciousness to the role under Francesca's expert direction!"--Denyce Graves

Alek Shrader
Emily Pogorelc
The Old Lady:                                    
Denyce Graves
Wynn Harmon

Francesca Zambello
Nicole Paiement
Set Designer:                           
James Noone
Costume Designer:                              
Jennifer Moeller
Lighting Designer:                              
Mark McCullough
Associate Director and Choreographer:          
Eric Sean Fogel

Informative and entertaining, Opera Insights take you inside the composer's mind, behind the scenes of planning a production, and into the history and social context of each opera.
These lectures are free, but patrons must present a ticket from any performance of Candide.

Most Opera Insights begin 1 hour before the performance and last 20–25 minutes. Musicologist Saul Lilienstein's Opera Insights, scheduled for Thursday, May 24, begins 1 hour and 15 minutes before the performance and last 35–40 minutes. All other Opera Insights for Candide will be led by Colin Brush, Artistic Administrator.

Update on 12/11: The start time for the Sunday, May 20 performance of Candide has changed from 2 p.m. to 12 p.m. The Opera Insight lecture will now take place at 11 a.m., in the South Opera Tier Lounge.

Don't miss your opportunity to engage directly with our artists and share your thoughts on the experience you just had! Here's your chance to ask questions and get the inside scoop on the production from members of the cast and creative team. 
All discussions begin immediately after the performance and are free with your ticket.

Candide Talkback Date:
Monday, May 14

Watch and Listen

Candide | "Glitter and Be Gay"

Candide | "Make Our Garden Grow"

Candide | Easily Assimilated