As we were going through James Jorden’s things at his Sunnyside apartment, I came across a large brown envelope postmarked 2008 containing a collection of glamourous black-and-white photos of Costa, two or three you’ll see here. That discovery prompted me to pull out this recording featuring Costa, still very much with us at 94 and a particular favorite of numerous parterre box readers.

The recording originates from a touring production that hoped to end up on Broadway. That, alas, was not to be. My understanding is that the edition was similar to the one used three years earlier at a Philharmonic Hall concert with Madeline Kahn as Cunegonde. Tinkering with the book during the tour ultimately led to Hellman’s demanding that her name be taken off the credits. Readers may be able to fill in more details about the aborted tour.

I have hopes that Bard Summerscape might do Candide as its maverick theater director Daniel Fish (responsible for the dark Oklahoma that came to Broadway after its premiere at Bard) mounted the problematic work in late 2022 at the Opéra de Lyon. Though I only heard a radio broadcast, it succeeded for me by jettisoning all dialogue. One glorious number followed another linked only by spoken, very Panglossian aphorisms. It’s a Candide concept I’d very much like to experience in person.

The Netflix biopic misfire Maestro included surprisingly few references to/or examples of Leonard Bernstein’s compositions. But it did feature a scene of Bradley Cooper conducting a chorus in the great Candide finale “Make our Garden Grow,” but I don’t believe the title of the show (my very favorite Bernstein) was even mentioned.

Bernstein: Candide

Cunegonde: Mary Costa
The Old Lady: Rae Allen
Candide: Frank Porretta
Pangloss/ Martin: Douglas Campbell
The Governor & others: William Lewis
Maximilian & others: Joshua Hecht

Conductor: Ross Reimuller
San Francisco Light Opera
July 1971
In-house recording

Candide can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

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