This week on the LS we feature the original 1956 production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide based on Voltaire's 18th century novella which attacks the 18th c. philosophy of optimism. Many versions of Candide exist, but this is music from the first version, with a cast that features Barbara Cook as Cuneghonde and Robert Rounseville as Candide.
The story for the 1956 production finds Candide's philosophy of optimism tested to the limit as he leaves his native Westphalia and travels the world. Along the way he has many trials, including encountering slavery, the Spanish Inquisition, and finding Cunegonde in the demimonde of Paris among them (that's where she sings "Glitter and be Gay"). Finally, a sobered Candide and his friends return home proclaiming the only way we can make sense of life is not by the philosophy of optimism, but to stay home and make our garden grow.
Barbara Cook, the Cunegunde of the original cast, first appeared on Broadway in a show called Flahooey in 1951 and she continued to appear on Broadway and on tour in musicals and on television for the next 20 years, including the original cast of She Loves Me and her best known role as Marian the Librarian in 1957's The Music Man. In 1975 she made the transition to cabaret and concerts, where her success continued until her death at 89 in August of 2017. We'll hear a sample of her cabaret singing from South Pacific.