Opera McGill, working with the McGill Chamber Orchestra (MCO), will present Leonard Bernstein’s exuberant, satirical operetta Candide from March 23-25. Based on the novella by Voltaire, the story follows the naive Candide as he sets off to explore the world and is beset by an endless series of comedic disasters. Since its debut in 1956, the Tony award-winning work has gone through multiple updates and alterations. Opera McGill will present the 1974 version, which is performed in one 90-minute act without intermission. Part of the Lisl Wirth Black Box Festival, and celebrating this Bernstein centennial year, Candide is directed and choreographed by Patrick Hansen with the MCO conducted by Boris Brott.

Candide features numerous beloved musical highlights, including the soprano show-stopper Glitter and Be Gay, the popular Overture, and the beautiful choral finale, Make Our Garden Grow. “Bernstein’s work is absolutely a masterpiece,” comments director Patrick Hansen, “From the opening scene, when Dr. Pangloss imparts his philosophy that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds,” Candide goes through a series of fabulous and torturous adventures to find his way in the world, finally discovering that he has to “make his own garden grow”.” Opera McGill’s cast of 22 plays a total of 64 roles, from pirates to sheep to dancing executioners.

Maestro Boris Brott, who leads the guest orchestra, the MCO, provides a direct link to Leonard Bernstein himself. Brott served as Assistant Conductor to Bernstein at the New York Philharmonic in the 1960s, and frequently travelled and performed alongside his mentor. “Candide has always fascinated me,” says Brott, “Bernstein of course had a wonderful way of writing melody. Candide is both philosophical and enormously entertaining, and the music is highly contagious.”

Candide will have three performances, on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 pm; and on Sunday, March 25 at 2:00 pm – all at Pollack Hall. On Saturday, March 24 at 11:00 am, Patrick Hansen will give a lecture on opera in the 1950s in Tanna Schulich Hall and, that same afternoon at 2:00 pm, Opera McGill offers a free performance of Poulenc’s Dialogue des carmélites in Pollack Hall.

About Opera McGill

As one of the leading opera training programs in North America, Opera McGill’s students come from all over Canada, the United States, and Europe. At least three new productions are created each season: a mainstage opera with orchestra, a baroque opera with period instruments and tuning (in collaboration with the Early Music program), and a “black box” production. Opera McGill alumni now appear on all of the major opera house stages of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera, Opéra de Montreal, and Zurich Opera.”

Leonard Bernstein’s Candide will be presented on Friday, March 23 & Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, March 25 at 2:00 pm. Pollack Hall is at 555 Sherbrooke Street West. Tickets are $20-$54 and are available online at the Box Office in person at 555 Sherbrooke St. West or by phone: 514-398-4547, Monday to Friday, noon to 6:00 pm.