Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Document Type



Voltaire’s Candide is a classic in the realm of satire. The title character learns from his tutor, Dr. Pangloss, the philosophy that all is for the best in this world. That philosophy is tested when he is expelled from his home; and has to make his own way in the world. The story is one of love, war, travel, and self-discovery. It is not surprising that Lillian Hellman and Leonard Bernstein saw this tale as having great potential for the stage when they decided to make Candide into a musical stage drama. Bernstein and Hellman vied for control over whose vision would guide the creation of Candide. The result was a less than cohesive script, libretto, and score that premiered in 1956 to mixed reviews. Multiple efforts ensued over the next thirty years to create a more unified Candide; including a 1973 revival at the Chelsea Theater, and a revision that involved Bernstein’s collaboration for the Scottish Opera in 1988. Each production received criticism and praise alike, but Candide has never been the success it could be with a unified script and score. This paper will identify individual musical and dramatic elements that create cohesion, and those elements that impede success in the script and score of the 1956, 1973, and 1988 versions of Candide. After outlining the situations surrounding the creation of all three versions, examining the premieres and subsequent reviews of the three versions, I analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of musical and dramatic elements in each version and how these elements affected the continuity of the piece as a whole. This involved a comparison of the musical numbers used in each version, a scene by scene examination of the dramatic content, and an overall study of the dramatic flow of the individual shows. There have been countless attempts by playwrights, Broadway producers, and directors to use the brilliant music of Bernstein to tell Voltaire’s witty tale. Perhaps a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the score and script will provide the insight necessary to create a definitive version of Candide.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Patricia O'Neill



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Music Commons