In these difficult days, it seems hard to make an argument that you and I are living in “The best of all possible worlds.”
Yet that is the message of Candide, an operetta that Leonard Bernstein wrote in 1956 to a libretto by Lillian Hellman. Because Candide is based on a novella of the same name that Voltaire wrote in 1759, we should expect to hear some philosophizing in it. And here it is, in the words of some of the operetta’s characters:
PANGLOSS. Syllogism Number One. Since this is the only possible
world, it follows . . .
MAXIMILIAN. . . . that this is the best of all possible worlds.
DR. PANGLOSS. Correct. Ergo. Since this is the best of all possible worlds, it follows . . .
CUNEGONDE. . . . that everything that happens in this world is for the best.
DR. PANGLOSS. Correct.
So that proves it. But Bernstein, refusing to let that idea stay in the realm of theory, wrote an operetta so effervescent that it leaves little room for doubt that this world is wonderful, astonishingly wonderful, this world is as good as it gets.
From the first note of the overture through every aria (including the faux-operatic coloratura showpiece “Glitter and Be Gay”) and ensemble, every moment in this stage work lifts our spirits and brings joy to our day.
So for today’s playlist, we have chosen a complete recording of Candide for you to enjoy. And what a recording it is, featuring the London Philharmonic, conducted by Bernstein himself. Soloists include Christa Ludwig, Jerry Hadley, June Anderson, Kurt Ollmann and even Nicolai Gedda. (Dare we say, the best of all possible casts?)
If you subscribe to Classical Archives, CLICK HERE to hear the whole performance. It will make you day, and every day to come, just a little more perfect.