The 1956 Libretto

Original Broadway Production (1956)
Published in 1957 by Random House

Credits | Excerpts


A Comic Operetta based on Voltaire's satire
Book by Lillian Hellman
Score by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
Other lyrics by John Latouche and Dorothy Parker

Act One
Scene 1
Scene 1.

THE SCENE: Westphalia. Outside the castle of the Baron Thunder Ten Tronch.

AT RISE: Pangloss appears.

PANGLOSS. I have been asked to tell you that this is Westphalia. It is a fine, sunny day. The sun shines on all wedding days, except, of course, when it doesn't, and then what does it matter? The women of Westphalia are very pure women. (The Women of the Chorus appear) I am told there are women in this world who are not pure, but the uneducated say a great many foolish things, don't they? (The Men of the Chorus appear) Our men are brave. The war is over, but we still have six divisions of artillery ready to start another war. It's been a long and bloody war, but if men didn't fight they would never know the benefits of peace, and if they didn't know the benefits of peace they would never know the benefits of war. You see, it all works out for the best. (King of Hesse, escorted by soldiers, appear) This is the King of Hesse, our hereditary enemy. We destroyed his army last week and took him prisoner. We treat him with great courtesy. He has a nice room in the basement. He comes out every day for exercise, and seems most content. (Hesse exits) Oh, forgive me. I am Pangloss, Doctor of Heidelberg, of Leipzig, and of Würzburg, in Philosophy and Metaphysics. I have long been resident tutor to the Baron's house. It's been a good life. Although, between you and me, I sometimes miss the clositers of the university and small talk in Greek. ( Gretchen comes toward him) Good morning, Gretchen.

GRETCHEN. You owe me money.

PANGLOSS. Ah, well. If she didn't think of money, she wouldn't think at all. Which certainly proves that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

    (He sings)
    Look at this view! Mountains and towers!
    Green meadows, too, bursting with flowers!
    This is the heart of the [this] best of all possible worlds.
    Much the best part of this best of all possible worlds.

    CHORUS (sings).
    Yes, it's the heart of the best of all possible worlds.
    Much [Quite] the best part of the best of all possible worlds.

    PANGLOSS (sings, gesturing toward the Chorus).
    Our men are lean, handsome and active.
    Where have you seen girls more attractive?
    None have more grace in this best of all possible worlds.
    No finer race in this best of all possible worlds.

    No finer race in this best of all possible worlds.
    No better place in this best of all possible worlds.

    And best of all, we now convene
    With keen anticipation,
    To watch a happy wedding scene
    And have a celebration.

    A happy celebration.

    All hail the groom
    And bride, of whom
    Our hearts could not be fonder.
    The love that reigns in Heaven above
    Is mirrored in the marriage of
    (Candide and Cunegonde enter. Pangloss continues singing)
    Candide and Cunegonde!

    Candide and Cunegonde!

    Wherefore and hence, therefore and ergo...

    Wherefore and hence, therefore and ergo...

    All's for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

    All's for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

    Any questions?
    Ask without fear.
    (Touches his head)
    I've all the answers here.

    CUNEGONDE sings).
    Dear master, I am sure you're right
    That married life is splendid.
    But why do married people fight?
    I cannot comprehend it.

    She cannot comprehend it.

    The private strife
    Of man and wife
    Is useful to the nation:
    It is a harmless outlet for
    Emotions which [that] could lead to war
    Or social agitation.

    A brilliant explanation!

    Therefore, it's true.
    No one [man] may doubt it:

    Therefore, it's true.
    No doubt about it:

    Marriage is blest in
    This best of all possible worlds.

    All's for the best in
    This best of all possible worlds.

    Next question?
    Deep though it be,
    There's none too deep for me!

    CANDIDE (sings).
    Since marriage is divine, of course,
    We cannot understand, sir,
    Why should there [there should] be so much divorce.
    Do let us know the answer.

    Do let us know the answer.

    Why, marriage, boy,
    Is such a joy,
    So lovely a condition,
    That many ask no better than
    To wed as often as they can,
    In happy repetition.

    A brilliant exposition.

    Wherefore and hence, therefore and ergo...

    Wherefore and hence, therefore and ergo...

    All's for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

    All's for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

    PANGLOSS, CANDIDE, CUNEGONDE (sing in a round, twice).
    A brilliant exposition!
    Q. E. D.
    All's for the best.

    A brilliant exposition in this best of all
    Possible, possible, possible, possible [omits the last] worlds!
    A brilliant exposition! Q. E. D.
(The Baron Thunder Ten Tronch enters)

CUNEGONDE (speaks). Good morning, dear Father.

BARON. A good morning, dear children, on your wedding day. (Maximillian enters. He is hung with metals) Good morning, son. Where did you get the medals?

MAXIMILLIAN. Oh, now, Father, I have one of my headaches.

BARON. Have you had a headache for three years? Why didn't you join the army when I sent for you? (Points to Candide) My adopted son never left my side. He earned his medals.

MAXIMILLIAN. I sprained my ankle, Father. I have soft bones. I've explained it all before—

BARON. Candide didn't worry about his bones. He worried about mine.

MAXIMILLIAN. He has strong bones. Lower-class bones.

PANGLOSS. Baron, here are the marriage contracts in Latin, Greek and Westphalian dialect. A record for history.

MAXIMILLIAN (to Cunegonde). As your brother—and the future head of this house, Go forbid Father ever dies, please God—I must once again protest your marriage to a man of unknown birth. And if you hadn't paid so much for your wedding dress, I could have had a new uniform.

CUNEGONDE (laughs). But it's a nice uniform. And certainly not touched by war.

BARON (to Candide). Come sign the marriage contracts, my boy.

CANDIDE (coming to table). Oh, sir, I can make no marriage settlement. You know I have nothing to give Cunegonde.

PANGLOSS. You have a pure heart. A woman wants nothing else.

CANDIDE (to Baron). You have been much too generous with Cunegonde's dowry. I cannot accept—

BARON. I haven't given her a damn thing.

CANDIDE. Thank you, sir. Thank you. And now I have a great favor to ask of you—

BARON (very quickly). I can't afford anything. I must look out for my old age. What is it?

CANDIDE. This is the happiest day of my life and it pains me to think we have a prisoner in the house. Could we invite the King of Hesse to have wine and cake with us at the marriage feast?

(Baron nods, signals to a Soldier. The Soldier exits to fetch the King of Hesse.)

PANGLOSS (to Candide, as they move away). Your old teacher is proud of you. Now make me happy. Throw yourself back through the years and repeat your lesson: tell me the golden rules of a high-minded Westphalian man.

CANDIDE. The heart of man is generous; the honor of a man is all he needs on life's joumey; the poor must be respected sInce they are always with us; the beauty of noble thought; the treasure that is sweet, sacred womanhood­—

PANGLOSS (to a Pretty Girl who passes). Good morning, Paquette.

PAQUETTE. You owe me money.

PANGLOSS (to Candide). Women are sometimes difficult. But if they weren't difficult perhaps nobody would pay any attention to them. Tell me, my boy, do you know much of women? Have you, I mean did you, perhaps, in a daring minute—

CANDIDE. What, sir? I don't know what you mean.

PANGLOSS (delighted). Oh, I am so glad. So glad. (To another Pretty Girl) Hello, Irmentrude. You look charming— (Quickly) I paid you. (She disappears.)

PANGLOSS (Hurries to Cunegonde). Cunegonde, my dear little girl, make your old teacher happy. Repeat the words of a high-minded Westphalian lady and swear that you will live by them,

CUNEGONDE. The honor of a woman is all she needs on hfe's journey. Dr. Pangloss, is that really all a woman needs?

PANGLOSS. Nothing else.

CUNEGONDE. Do you like my dress?

PANGLOSS. Continue, dear girl: The treasure that is sweet, sacred womanhood—

CUNEGONDE. Treasure. Yes, sir. Do you thmk it will rain? If it rains, my hair won't curl— (pats Pangloss affectionately) I'm a bad pupil. I always was. But don't be angry with me.

(Pangloss smiles, kisses her, and moves to Maximillian.)

PANGLOSS. Maximillian, I have a new medal for you. Come along. (They exit)

BARON (to Cunegonde). And how's my pretty daughter? Nervous as a bride should be?

CUNEGONDE. No, Father. I am not nervous.

BARON (as he exits). Oh, my God. Neither was your mother.

CANDIDE. We're alone. We shouldn't be.

CUNEGONDE. Why not? What silly old customs. We'll be married in a few minutes. Would you like to see my veil?

(She oves toward him. He draws back.)

CANDIDE. Cunegonde, you know that I am forbidden to see the wedding veil­—

CUNEGONDE. For a daring hero, you're not very daring.

CANDIDE. I respect you and I—

CUNEGONDE. You should respect me. I'm very pure.

CANDIDE. You need hardly tell me such a thing.

CUNEGONDE. I've never even thought about another man. I've never kissed another man.

CANDIDE (amazed). Of course not, Cunegonde.

CUNEGONDE. I think you should apologize, darling.

CANDIDE. I do. (Bewildered) Indeed I do.

CUNEGONDE. All right. I forgive. Now where are we going on our honeymoon?

CANDIDE. Well, we'll stay here and take a nice picnic basket— (Sadly) I can't take you anywhere, Cunegonde. You know I have nothing.

CUNEGONDE. I don't want anything, darling. And anyway, Fa­ther's rich.

CANDIDE. I won't take anything from your father. (Desperately) Cunegonde, I will work for you, I will give my life for you, but that isn't much to offer. I can't even give you a house of your own­—

CUNEGONDE. Darling, darling. We've said all this before. I don't want houses or dresses or jewelry—they're all rather vulgar, aren't they? I'll live in this dress the rest of my life. These shoes will last me unbl death. I want nothmg. Absolutely nothing but you.

    CANDIDE (sings).
    Soon, when we feel we can afford it,
    We'll build a modest little farm.

    CUNEGONDE (sings).
    We'll buy a yacht and live aboard it,
    Rolling in luxury and stylish charm.

    Cows and chickens.

    Social whirls.

    Peas and cabbage,

    Ropes of pearls.

    Soon there'll be little ones beside us;
    We'll have a sweet Westphalian home.

    Somehow we'll grow as rich as Midas;
    We'll live in Paris when we're not in Rome,

    Smiling babies.

    Marble halls.

    Sunday picnics.

    Costumes balls.

    Oh, won't my robes of silk and satin
    Be chic! I'll have all that I desire.

    Pangloss will tutor us in Latin
    And Greek, while we sit before the fire.

    Glowing rubies.

    Glowing logs.

    Faithful servants.

    Faithful dogs.

    We'll round the world enjoying high life;
    All will be pink champagne and gold.

    We'll lead a rustic and a shy life,
    Feeding the pigs and sweetly growing old.

    Breast of peacock.

    Apple pie.

    I love marriage.

    So do I.

    Oh happy pair!
    Oh, happy we!
    It's very rare
    How we agree.

    Oh happy pair!
    Oh, happy we!
    It's very rare
    How we agree.
    Oh happy pair!
    Oh, happy we!
    It's very rare
    How we agree!
(The people of the scene return to the stage.)

CANDIDE (moves to the King of Hesse). I would like to make you welcome at my wedding feast. Can you forget old battles on this happy day?

HESSEE. I am happy to forget old battles. I don't like battles. I hate war.

(They shake hands and Candide moves away. The General of the Hessian army appears, hiding behind a pillar, and taps Hesse on the shoulder,)

HESSE'S GENERAL (in a whisper). Your Majesty.

HESSE. Oh, my God, what are you doing here?

HESSE'S GENERAL, Your Majesty, precisely at noon you will be rescued.

HESSE. I don't want to be rescued. I don't want to go home. I like being a prisoner. Go away, please.

HESSE'S GENERAL. We will not pay your ransom. We have been in conference all night and have decided it is cheaper to fight. HESSE. Please leave me alone. I'm sick of war—

HESSE'S GENERAL. The honor of Hesse calls for the destruction of Westphalia. Have a little honor, Your Majesty. (He creeps off.)

PANGLOSS. We shall now sing the first eighteen stanzas of the wedding chorale, omitting the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth stanzas which have to do with fertility festivals. We shall use the Saint Stanislaus version.

    CHORUS (sings).
    We subjects of this Barony
    Are gathered here in pride and glee
    To hail the lovely bride-to-be
    And graft upon her noble tree
    The flower of chivalry.
(The General of the Hessian army appears, signaling to his men. They invade Westphalia. Through the noise of battle, we hear the cries of Westphalian Ladies, the outraged shouts of Westphalian Men. We see Cunegonde carried off by the General as Candide rushes to her defense. Ladies rush across the stage in panic as Hessian Soldiers pursue them. In the midst of the excitement, Pangloss climbs on the wedding table.)

PANGLOSS. Gentlemen! Gentlemen! I have never before in my life used strong words, but I am forced to say this is unsporting. (He is knocked off the table and disappears.)

(The last figures in the battle disappear. The stage is empty. After a second, the Baron and Maximillian appear, struggle toward each other and fall to the ground. Cunegonde, without her wed­ding dress, appears and falls to the ground trying to reach her father. Pangloss appears and struggles to reach the three figures.)

PANGLOSS. Tut, tnt, the good Baron. Tut, tut, the good Maximillian. (He moves toward Cunegonde.)

PANGLOSS. Cunegonde. Cunegonde, Poor, pretty chIld. (He falls as Candide comes stumbling on.)

CANDIDE (calling). Cunegonde, Cunegonde­—

PANGLOSS. Candide—(Candide runs to him) Cunegonde is dead. Westphalia is destroyed. Don't cry, don't stay to mourn us. The world is beautiful—go forth and see it.

CANDIDE. My Cunegonde­—

PANGLOSS. Yes, I know. But think of it this way: If she hadn't died she'd never have been born. There is some sweetness in every woe. The world will be good to you, kind to you. Go now.

(Music begins. Candide moves slowly out of Westphalia. Lights dim and come up as Candide travels from Westphalia to Lisbon.)

Scene lA.

THE SCENE: The frame of a house is rolled onstage. Inside the house a Woman and a Man are sitting at a table, eating their large dinner and throwing away the food that does not please them.

CANDIDE (to the Man and the Woman). Please, have you any work for me? (No answer) I have traveled a long way. Could I rest in your stables?

MAN. No.

CANDIDE. Could I have a little of your garbage?

WOMAN. Certainly not.

(The house rolls offstage.)

    CANDIDE (sings).
    My world is dust now,
    And all I loved is dead.
    Oh, let me trust now
    In what my master said:
    "There is a sweetness in every woe."
    It must be so. It must be so.
    The dawn will find me
    Alone in some strange land.
    But men, are kindly;
    They'll give me a helping hand.
    So said my master, and he must know.
    It must be so. It must be so.
(The frame of three houses is wheeled onstage. Candide knocks on first door. A woman appears.)

CANDIDE. Bread, ma'am? (She shuts the door. He knocks on second door. A Man appears) A little water, sir? (The Man makes an angry gesture. Candide moves on to third door. A Man hands him a loaf of bread. Candide stares at the bread, unbelieving) Thank you, sir. You are a Christian.

MAN. How dare you? I am an atheist.

CANDIDE. I don't know what that is.

MAN. Never mind. Go your way. God bless you.

(Candide moves away as the market square of Lisbon is wheeled onstage.)

Continue to Act One, Scene 2 [Original Version]
Continue to Act One, Scene 2 [Revised Version]

Compiled by Michael H. Hutchins