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 3
Scene 3.

SCENE: Paris. The ballroom of a house in Paris. The garden can be seen. Left stage, a group of screens form a boudoir.

AT RISE: The guests are waltzing about. Outside, in the garden. the Beggars and Candide are staring at the party.

A MAN (to his partner). Who is giving this party?

HIS PARTNER. Two rich gentlemen. To introduce their niece. as one calls such women this year.

THE MAN. What's their names?

ANOTHER MAN. The Marquis something and the Sultan something. What difference does it make? The wine is good.
(An Old Lady, dressed to the nines, carrying something high above her head, comes dodging and tripping and falling among the dancers. She is followed by two eager gentlemen, the Mar­quis and the Sultan.)

MARQUIS (nervous, to the Old Lady). But where is she, where is madame? The guests have been waiting for an hour.

OLD LADY (giggling). She didn't have the proper garters. We had to send to the jeweler. . . . (Coquettishly opens the box) Would it please you both to have a little, little look?

MARQUIS. Oh, yes!

SULTAN. It would please me to have a look at the lady.

OLD LADY. Oh, be patient, dear. It's her first Paris party, and she is nervous. How well I remember my first Paris party. Not like this, I can tell you. You had to present proof of seven titled ancestors at the door. That was the night the Duke of Hamburg saw me and killed himself. . . .

SULTAN. All right. So all right, already. (Moves toward boudoir) I'm going in.

OLD LADY (hastily). Be patient. This girl has come from the cloisters, pure and innocent. You've been very lucky, you boys.

MARQUIS (to Sultan). We've been very lucky, us boys.

SULTAN. I'm going to break down the door.

MARQUIS. No, no, cousin. We cannot go into her room unless she invites us.

SULTAN. We pay for this house, you and I, and we've been in that room before.

OLD LADY. That's different. She's not getting undressed. She's getting dressed. (She sweeps into the boudoir.)

SULTAN. I say we do these things better in the East. The girl would have been ready on time, or she'd have been dead.

MARQUIS. Oh, charming women make their own rules. And you know that you have found her charming.

SULTAN. Charming! In one generation you have learned to talk like these people. Such words. Charming. She's a woman. You and I are cousins and so it is sensible, to split the expense. We are partners in this woman as we are partners in business. Has nothing to do with charm. So please remember to observe the proper hours and days. And do not fall in love, as you usually do with these women.

MARQUIS. Oh, no, not in love. After all, she's as much yours as mine. (To guests) Madame will be with us very soon. In the meantime, supper is in the yellow room.

SULTAN. Cost a fortune.

MARQUIS. Giant truffles, grilled breast of lake peacock.

SULTAN. Cost a fortune.

MARQUIS. Boiled caviar—­

SULTAN. And stewed bank notes from the family business.
(Guests, Marquis and Sultan exit.)

(The lights dim in the ballroom, come up in the boudoir.)

OLD LADY (to a Girl, who is crying). Now what's the matter?

GIRL. I'm crying.

OLD LADY. You cry the way other people eat . . . right on time.

GIRL. But I am so ashamed of my present life.

OLD LADY. Ach! You never had it so good.

GIRL. I've told you over and over again that I am Cunegonde, Baroness Thunder Ten Tronch of Westphalia.

OLD LADY. Then how come I found you in a Paris gutter?

CUNGONDE. Last night I dreamed of home. I remembered my wedding day.

OLD LADY. You married? You didn't tell me that when I intro­duced you to these two nice gentlemen.

CUNEGONDE. No, I'm not married. The war came on the day of the wedding.

OLD LADY. Is that so? Ah, well, that's the way it happened to most of us. Sometimes war. Sometimes the man changed his mind. Where's the bridegroom?

CUNEGONDE. Dead. Trying to save me from rape . . .

OLD LADY. Died to save you from rape? Oh, aren't men,silly?
(Old Lady exits from boudoir.)

CUNEGONDE. Here I am in Paris. I don't even know how I got here. My heart broken. And yet I am forced to glitter, forced to be gay. (She sings.)

    Glitter and be gay,
    That's the part I play.
    Here am I in Paris, France,
    Forced to bend my soul
    To a sordid role,
    Victimized by bitter, bitter circumstance.

    Alas for me, had I remained
    Beside my lady mother,
    My virtue had remained unstained
    Until my maiden hand was gained
    By some Grand Duke or other.

    Ah, 'twas not to be;
    Harsh necessity
    Brought me to this gilded cage.
    Born to higher things,
    Here I droop my wings,
    Singing of a sorrow nothing can assuage.

    (Suddenly brighter.)
    And yet, of course, I rather like to revel, ha, ha!
    I have no, strong objection to champagne, ha, ha!
    My wardrobe is expensive as the devil, ha, ha!
    Perhaps it is ignoble to complain . . .

    Enough, enough
    Of being basely tearful!
    I'll show my noble stuff
    By being bright and cheerful!
    Ha, ha ha ha . . .

    (Reciting, to music.)
    Pearls and ruby rings . . .
    Ah, how can worldly things
    Take the place of honor lost?
    Can they compensate
    For my fallen state,
    Purchased as they were at such an awful cost?

    Bracelets . . . lavalieres . . .
    Can they dry my tears?
    Can they blind my eyes to shame?
    Can the brightest brooch
    Shield me from reproach?
    Can the purest diamond purify my name?

    (Suddenly bright again; singing as she puts on enormous bracelets.)
    And yet, of course, these trinkets are endearing, ha ha!
    I'm oh, so glad my sapphire is a star, ha ha!
    I rather like a twenty-carat earring, ha ha!
    If I'm not pure, at least my jewels are!

    (Puts on three more bracelets.)
    Enough, enough!
    I'll take their diamond necklace
    And show my noble stuff
    By being gay and reckless!
    Ha ha ha ha ha . . .

    Observe how bravely I conceal
    The dreadful, dreadful shame I feel.
    Ha ha ha ha ha, ha . . .
    (Puts on a giant diamond necklace.)
(When Cunegonde finishes she is so covered with jewels, she can hardly be seen. The Old Lady enters at the end of the aria and immediately begins to rip off the jewels.)

CUNEGONDE. No! No! I'm cold.

OLD LADY. Only married women can afford to look like whores.

(The boudoir screens disappear as Cunegonde enters the ball room. The guests have returned to the waltz. The Marquis and the Sultan come running forward. But the Sultan is faster and rougher, and the gentle Marquis is left behind. The Sultan, takes Cunegonde into the waltz. When they have waltzed for a minute, Cunegonde sees Candide in the garden. She screams.)

MARQUIS. What—what is happening, my darling?

SULTAN. What's the matter now?

OLD LADY (as Cunegonde is about to faint). Madame must be alone. Pray excuse her. She isn't well.

MARQUIS. She isn't well. Oh, cousin, she's so pure, so delicate.

SULTAN (angry). So pure, so delicate.

MARQUIS. But, cousin, she's ill, we must send the guests away.

(The guests begin to say good night, and are followed outside by the hosts. In the boudoir, Cunegonde is pacing about. The Old Lady beckons to Candide. Candide, bewildered, tries to run away.)

OLD LADY. Come in, come in—You poor boy. Don't be afraid.

CANDIDE. Oh—I couldn't come in here. I'm only looking for work. I'm hungry.

OLD LADY. I've been hungry many times, in many places in the world. I was most highly born and reduced very early—­

CANDIDE. Who are you? Whose house is this?

(Cunegonde appears in the ballroom and Candide stands para­lyzed in disbelief.)

    CANDIDE (singing).
    Oh. Oh. Is it true?

    CUNEGONDE (singing).
    Is it you?

    Cunegonde! Cunegonde! Cunegonde!

    Candide! Candide! Can­—
OLD LADY (speaks, interrupting song). Your cries of love are natural, but too loud. Remember your benefactors are in the garden.

    CANDIDE (sings).
    Oh. Oh. Is it true?

    CUNEGONDE (sings).
    Is it you?

    Cunegonde! Cunegonde! Cunegonde!

    Candide! Candide! Can—­

    Oh. Oh. Is it true?

    Is it you?




    Dearest, how can this be so?
    You were dead, you know.
    You were shot and bayoneted, too.

    That is very true.
    Ah, but love will find a way.

    Then what did you do?

    We'll go into that another day.
    Now let's talk of you.
    You are looking very well.
    Weren't you clever, dear, to survive?

    I've a sorry tale to tell.
    I escaped more dead than alive.

    Love of mine, where did you go?

    Oh, I wandered to and fro . . .

    Oh, what torture, oh, what pain . . .

    Holland, Portugal, and Spain . . .

    Ah, what torture . . .

    Holland, Portu . . .

    Ah, what torture . . .

    I would do it all again
    To find you at last!

    Reunited after so much pain;
    But the pain is past.
    We are one again,
    We are one at last!
    One again, one at last
    One again, one at last
    One, one, one, one,
    At last!
(The Sultan and the Marquis return to the ballroom.)

SULTAN. In the name of Allah, who is this man?

CANDIDE. Cunegonde, who is this scoundrel?

MARQUIS (running to Cunegonde, who is crying). My darling girl, what has happened?

CANDIDE. Gentlemen, I do not understand your presence in this house—(Turns, bewildered, to Cunegonde) And come to think of it, what are you doing here, Cunegonde? Who are these men? Gentlemen, this lady is my fiancée. I must demand that you leave her house, this house, whatever house, immediately—­

MARQUIS (outraged, draws his sword). Your fiancée! You miser­able beggar. How dare you—­
(As he advances on Candide, the Old Lady appears with a sword and hands it to Candide. Candide, anxious not to fight, backs away.)

CANDIDE. Gentlemen, I have no desire to go about the world dueling. I ask only that you leave peacefully— (He defends himself from the sword of the Marquis) I do not understand how Cunegonde came to be here, but let me take her away in peace. She will tell you that we have loved since we were the smallest of children—­

MARQUIS (in love's pain, turns to the Sultan). I can't believe she started so young. It's disgusting.
(The Old Lady pushes Candide into the Marquis. The Marquis falls.)

SULTAN. I will avenge you, my cousin. Our family, despite oc­casional bickerings and law suits, are as one. (To Candide as they duel) Do you know that you have killed the President of the Western division of the Far Eastern section of the banking house of—­
(The Old Lady trips the Sultan. He falls onto Candide's sword, and drops to the floor.)

CANDIDE (stands horrified. He throws down his sword and moves toward Cunegonde). I have killed two men. I don't know why or how. I have killed because of you, and yet I don't even understand why you are here. Answer me, Cunegonde.

OLD LADY. There is no time for all that. These men are of great importance. I have seen enough trouble in my miserable life to tell you that we will all be arrested and executed for this. We must move with speed.

(She picks up furs and jewel box.)

CANDIDE. No. I must pay the penalty for what I have done. But before I do, I want you to tell me­—

CUNEGONDE (crying out). Nothing. Nothing. I am here by acci­dent. The house was empty, and I was starving, and they gave me a little food. (The Old Lady throws her the jewel box. She catches it) That is all. They treated me with the greatest respect— How dare you think anything else?

CANDIDE. What are those?

CUNEGONDE (very nervous). Jewels. My mother, the Baroness, gave them to me. You have seen her wear them— ­

CANDIDE. What are you saying, Cunegonde? Your mother had a little silver comb, nothing more.

CUNEGONDE. You have insulted me, Candide, and hurt me, too—

­OLD LADY. Death stares us in the face, and you are insulted. Be still and allow me to think—­
(A procession of Pilgrims is seen in, the garden. They are moving to march music.)

PILGRIM FATHER. We are off to the new world. Any and all who wish to slough off the woes of this evil society may join us on our ocean journey to a new life. All who wish to join this loving band, come as sisters. and brothers in faith­ (The procession moves off.)

OLD. LADY. Come! Come! We will escape by mixing with this pious group.

CUNEGONDE (stamping her foot). But I don't wish to mix with a pious group. I don't wish to go to the new world—­ (There is the sound of a police whistle.)

OLD LADY. Police! Be quick­

(A curtain, on which a ship is painted, is dropped on the Paris scene and the Pilgrim procession appears before it. The Old Lady, Cunegonde and Candide run to join them.)

Scene 3A.

SCENE: A ship painted on a curtain.

AT RISE: The pilgrim procession is walking toward the gangplank.

    PILGRIM FATHER (sings).
    Come, pilgrims, to America!
    Come, see the new domains of God!

    ALL (sing).
    Come, pilgrims, to America!
    Come, see the new domains of God!

    PILGRIM MOTHER (sings).
    Leave France's wicked sod!
    Come and dwell where Satan's hoof has never trod!

    Come, pilgrims, to America!
    Where Satan's hoof has never trod!
    Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.
    Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

    We sail to seek God's pardon
    Where innocence shall be restored
    In that new Eden garden
    Where man has not defied his Lord.

    Make haste and come aboard!
    Come before your hearts in error harden.

    Come, pilgrims, to America!
    Where innocence shall be restored!

    CUNEGONDE and CANDIDE (urged on by the Old Lady, sing with the Pilgrims).
    Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

    Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.
CAPTAIN (speaks). Welcome, travelers. You sail safe on a ship of the greatest comfort. Your staterooms are furnished in imported antique luxury.

PILGRIM FATHER (sharply). We wish no luxury. We sail to raise the rocks of America into hills of freedom.


CAPTAIN (to Cunegonde). You will raise rocks, madame?


OLD LADY (quickly). Certainly. That's why we have brought our furs.

CAPTAIN (to Candide). One thousand louis, monsieur, for you, your wife, and her duenna.

CANDIDE. Unfortunately, the lady is not my wife. She will be, however. . .

CAPTAIN. I'm afraid my ship couldn't accommodate itself to an arrangement of that character.

CANDIDE. No such thought was in my mind, We will occupy two staterooms, I assure you. What arrangement? I don't under­stand—

­ CAPTAIN (calling). Tickets! Tickets! Two thousand louis.

CUNEGONDE. We have no money. There wasn't time. We had to escape.

OLD LADY (hastily holds out a fur coat). This coat of pampam­-palanium is worth five thousand louis without buttons or lining.

CAPTAIN. I will accept it. You will have no need of it in Mis­sissippi.

PILGRIM FATHER. Mississippi? We were told you sail for the English colony of the north. . . .

CAPTAIN. Yes, yes, of course. We stop at Mississippi for those who wish to disembark there. That seldom happens, so we sail quickly on. (As a few of the Pilgrims seem to hesitate) All aboard, ladies and gentlemen. My ship has the best of food, the wittiest of company.

A PILGRIM. Wittiest of company?

PILGRIM FATHER. We spend our time in prayer.

CAPTAIN. Excellent. I know many a witty prayer. All aboard! All aboard for the new world. May you get what you deserve.
(They move offstage as the curtain rises on Buenos Aires.)

Continue to Act One, Scene 4

Compiled by Michael H. Hutchins