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 4
Scene 4.

SCENE: Buenos Aires. The wharf in front of the Governor's palace; the Governor's palace, terrace and balcony.

AT RISE: The Pilgrims, in chains, are being herded off the ship. Martin, a beggar street cleaner, is moving about.

CAPTAIN (striding off ship). Hello, Martin. You look bad.

MARTIN. I hope so. And I'm sorry to see you looking very well. An evil occupation makes good circulation; evil connections make good complexions. (He stares at Pilgrims) No black slaves this time?

CAPTAIN. Times are hard. I take what I can get. I won't get much for this lot. White slaves are impractical—they show the dirt.

PILGRIM FATHER (he is a wreck, but he is still the leader). We demand the removal of these chains. Bring us to the repre­sentative of France in this land of Canada. . . .

(The Captain laughs, strides off.)

MARTIN (to Pilgrims). You're not the first he has brought this far afield. This miserable dump is called Buenos Aires. That's the Governor's palace. The Captain is about to put you up on the auction block. (There is a stunned silence. Then the Pilgrim Father collapses. The others begin to moan and cry and pray) Oh, don't carry on so loud. All men are in slavery in this worst of all possible worlds. We choose it for ourselves.

CANDIDE (stumbling to his feet). Who are you?

MARTIN. A foreigner. A scholar. A beggar. A street cleaner. A pessimist.

CANDIDE (puzzled). Once I knew a man—he looked very like you, sir. He was a great man, kind and wise. He was an optimist and yet he used almost the same words that you . . .

MARTIN. If he was an optimist, he was neither kind nor wise, as you must know from the chains around your wrists.

CUNEGONDE. Chains. Chains. I who was born in a castle, daugh­ter to a baron. We had seven German meals a day. I'm hungry. My mother had a sponge bath whenever she called for it, with three maids to do the soaping and one for odds and ends. My brother was white and blond. . . .

OLD LADY. I don't believe a word you say. I never have. Your German castle would not have served as stables for my father's falcons. Ask me who I am. Ask me. (Nobody asks her) I am the daughter of the Princess of Palestrina and a man so highly placed, of such piety, that even now I cannot disclose his name. I was beautiful, very spiritual, yet in my sixteenth year, from Constantinople to Odessa, round and round the Crimea, up and down the Black Sea . . . (Screams) Ask me what happened to that lovely little princess . . .

CUNEGONDE (very angry). A princess! (To others) She's my servant. I picked her out of a Paris gutter. . . .

OLD LADY (very, very angry). Where you were lying next to me until two rich men came along and took you to their house.

CANDIDE (softly). Cunegonde, every hour of this long voyage I have asked you to tell me how it was that I found you in Paris dressed in jewels, living in that great house. I know you are a virtuous woman, but please explain to me. . . .

OLD LADY. Oh, what a foolish man you are. Here we are about to be sold into slavery and you think of nothing but her virtue. Virtue. (She laughs loudly) Well, that was my last laugh.

CUNEGONDE (shrieking). You crone. You filth. You misery.

(Cunegonde and Old Lady fight.)

MARTIN. I've seen so much evil in my life that simply to keep my balance I am sometimes forced to believe there must be some good in this world. (Bows to the ladies) I am grateful to you for reminding me there isn't.

(The Captain enters.)

CAPTAIN. Rise up, my slaves, and march to the auction block. Welcome to the land of opportunity.

(Martin moves behind the Captain and cuts the large key chain hanging from the Captain's arm. He throws the keys to the Pilgrims. They unlock their chains as the Captain unaware of the loss of the keys, exits.)

PILGRIMS. Thank you. Thank you.

MARTIN. It is typical of the insanity of man that in a minute of danger he stops to say thank you to one who hates him.

PILGRIM FATHER. Thank you! Thank you!

(Pilgrims run off. Four Officers come onstage. Candide and Cunegonde hide. Martin exits. One of the Officers is Maximillian.)

FIRST OFFICER (to Maximillian). And how is His Excellency this morning?

MAXIMILIIAN. He's in a bad humor. He's bored. He's writing a book on the ugliness of C flat. Last week he was writing a book on the beauty of C flat.

SECOND OFFICER. What's C flat?

MAXIMILLIAN. Oh, dear boy, you Spaniards in exile are so un­cultured. In Westphalia, I had a tutor from the day I was born. . . .

(A handsome, middle-aged man appears on the balcony. He is the Governor of Buenos Aires.)

GOVERNOR. Good morning, gentlemen. I had a wakeful night. I have analyzed every note in the scale and found them wanting. B double flat used to give me a little pleasure but even that went last night. . . .

(Cunegonde sees Maximillian and screams. Maximillian sees her and screams. They walk toward each other in disbelief.)

CUNEGONDE. I am Cunegonde. I had a brother. He was killed in Westphalia. His name was Maximillian.

MAXIMILLIAN (pulls her to him). My sister. My dear, dead sister. Weren't you dead?

CUNEGONDE. Yes, I was. It's a long story.

MAXIMILLIAN (moves away from her). You have fleas, Cunegonde.

GOVERNOR. That . . . that thing is your sister? Dear boy, why did you bore me with those fantasies of your noble birth?

MAXIMILLIAN. Your Excellency! My sister and I are descended from King Seidesberger and Queen Desolate of Westphalia. . . .

GOVERNOR. Oh, don't start all that again.

MAXIMILLIAN. Now you have really hurt my feelings. Please call your servants to attend my lady sister. Have the largest rooms prepared to suit her station. . . .

GOVERNOR (laughing). Most certainly. Bring this . . . Bring her in. (Officer leads Cunegonde to the palace. The Governor, about to exit from balcony, calls down) Have your sister bathed. Three or four times. Then have her peeled and painted.

CUNEGONDE (speaks softly to Maximillian, pointing to Candide). Dear brother, look who's there.


CANDIDE. Maximillian!

(Candide, smiling happily, comes forward; Maximillian, with cries of surprise, comes to meet him. The Officers exit across stage with Cunegonde and the Old Lady.)

MAXIMILLIAN. A miracle, dear brother.

CANDIDE. A miracle, dear brother.

(They cry. Martin reenters and continues his sweeping.)

MAXIMILLIAN. But my sister was dead. And you were dead. And Pangloss was dead. . . .

CANDIDE. No, no. Not in Westphalia. He died again in Lisbon.


CANDIDE. Ah, there is so, much we must tell eacb other. I will go backwards in the telling. Cunegonde was—

MAXIMILLIAN. I was taken to the burial ground after the Hes­sian victory. But a good farm woman saw that my eyelids fluttered and she conceived the most tender feelings for me.

CANDIDE. Maximillian, Cunegonde was, is—

MAXIMILLIAN. Later, a Spanish duchess conceived the most tender feelings for me. I traveled under her protection. Protection! A fine story I could tell you. . . .

CANDIDE. Cunegonde's memory is now confused. I believe, with the horrors she has seen. I don't know what to think of the stories she tells me—­

MAXIMILLIAN. . . . And here I was, suddenly in Buenos Aires. (Delighted) My poor Candide. But I shall make your for­tune. And my sister will live in the palace­—

CANDIDE. We will be married on the morrow.

MAXIMILLIAN (amazed). I don't want to marry you.

CANDIDE. Your sister and I will be married on the morrow.

MAXIMILLIAN (furious). You still have the impudence to wish to marry a noble lady? You, of unknown birth, now a broken beggar . . .

CANDIDE. Maximillian! (Gently) That's not a very kind thing to say. Dr. Pangloss said that all men are created equal. I love your sister and she loves me. The marriage will take place immediately.

MAXIMILLIAN. You low-born climber. (Advances on Candide in order to strike him with a glove) I will send you to the slave block. I will throw you to the jungle.

(Candide takes the glove from Maximillian and attempts to slap him. But before he is slapped, Maximillian drops quietly. Candide stands appalled, staring at the body.)

CANDIDE (moaning). Oh, Maximillian, Maximillian. What have I done?

(The Old Lady saunters out of the palace. She is now done up in fantastic feathers and jewels, and looks worse. She is fanning herself in a great-lady manner. She stands staring at Candide as he bends over Maximillian.)

OLD LADY. He looked like the fainting kind.

CANDIDE. I have killed him.

OLD LADY (crossing to Maximillian's body). Killed him? . . . He was our protector. The situation here was obvious, al­though nothing is ever obvious to you. . . .

CANDIDE. What kind of man have I become? I have killed three times. Each time for love. What has love done to me?

OLD LADY (to Candide as she hears the Governor approaching). Hide. Hide. They will arrest you.

(She looks around for a hiding place. Martin motions to a safe place in back of the palace. She grabs Candide, pulls him into hiding. After a second, the Governor appears. The Governor crosses to Maximillian's body.)

GOVERNOR (to Martin). I loved this boy. Street cleaner! Tidy up here, please.

(Martin comes to Maximillian, covers him with canvas, and begins to drag his body offstage. Three Officers appear.)

FIRST OFFICER. Your Excellency, the young lady is now ready to meet you.

SECOND OFFICER. She says her name is the Baroness Cunegonde.

THIRD OFFICER. She claims that her family . . .

CUNEGONDE (enters in a handsome dress). I am not accustomed to appearing alone. Where is my duenna? . . . I've never in my life been alone with men— (She sees the Governor, and bows) Oh. Your Excellency.

GOVERNOR. Baroness Cunegonde, you look charming.

CUNEGONDE. Where is my brother?

MARTIN. Excuse me, madame. I have a message for you. Your brother has been called away. But you will meet again (Softly) . . . in the end.

(He drags Maximillian's body offstage, as Old Lady appears.)

CUNEGONDE. Oh. How nice. Thank you. Then I will move my baggage to his palace and wait his return. (Remembering) But I have no baggage.

GOVERNOR. And your brother has no palace. But I offer you my house.

CUNEGONDE. Thank you, sir. My duenna is with me, and my fiancé.

GOVERNOR. That is rather a large number of people. Perhaps we could put your duenna and your fiancé in a hotel.

CUNEGONDE. I don't understand, sir.

GOVERNOR. How long will it take you to understand?

CUNEGONDE. I don't understand, sir.

GOVERNOR. It's really not very hard if you keep your mind on it. I am offering you a wing of my house and a wing of my heart.

CUNEGONDE. I don't understand, sir.

GOVERNOR (sighs). Perhaps it will all take too long.

(He starts back into palace.)

OLD LADY (desperate). I think I understand. You are offering this innocent girl a wing of your heart . . .

GOVERNOR. Yes. Because my heart has wings and flies about. I think it best to tell you that now.

CUNEGONDE. I don't understand, sir. . . .

GOVERNOR. I'll try once more. (He sings)
    Poets have said
    Love is undying, my love;
    Don't be misled;
    They were all lying, my love.
    Love's on the wing,
    But now while he hovers,
    Let us be lovers.
    One soon recovers, my love.

    Soon the fever's fled,
    For love's a transient blessing.
    Just a week in bed,
    And we'll be convalescing.

    Why talk of morals
    When springtime is flying?
    Why end in quarrels,
    Reproaches and sighing,
    For love?
    My love

    For love undying, my love,
    Is not worth trying, my love.
    Never, my love,
    Mention forever, my love.

    Let it be lively,
    Let it be lovely,
    And light as a song,
    But don't let it last too long!

    CUNEGONDE (sings).
    I can not entertain
    Your shocking proposition
    How could I regain
    My virginal position?

    OLD LADY (sings).
    She is so pure
    That before you may bed her
    You must assure
    Us that first you will wed her
    Wed her

    Well, then
    Since you're so pure
    I shall betroth you, my love
    Though I feel sure
    I'll come to loathe you, my love
    Still for the thrill I'm perfectly willing
    For if we must wed
    Before we may bed
    Then let us be wed, my love
[Note: Unrecorded verses in the published libretto (1957) are in Blue.  Additional verses (not in the published libretto) sung on the 1956 Broadway Cast Recording are in Red.]

OLD LADY (speaking very quickly). His Excellency is asking for your hand—­

CUNEGONDE (deeply hurt). Hand? Oh, oh, sire—you must not take advantage of my innocence. . . .

OLD LADY. The great gentleman is proposing marriage.

GOVERNOR (laughs). I should like you to be my wife.

(Old Lady waves to Cunegonde, nodding her head with violence.)

CUNEGONDE (softly). Leave me, sire. I must have time to think it over.

(The Governor bows, and exits.)

OLD LADY (to Cunegonde). We are starving and have just been removed from chains. The greatest lord in South America wishes to marry you, and yet you . . .

CUNEGONDE. But I love Candide. I can't marry another man.

OLD LADY. Candide will be hunted down and executed for the murder . . . (When Cunegonde looks bewildered and fright­ened) . . . of the Marquis and the Sultan. The Paris police are on their way here now. It is your duty to marry the Governor and save Candide.

CUNEGONDE. But I don't love this man and I don't want to be unfaithful. . . .

OLD LADY. Look. Think of it this way. Marrying another man is no more unfaithful than sleeping with another man.

CUNEGONDE. Oooh! Is that true? You are so worldly.

OLD LADY. You have to live. You have to get along as best you can. (She sings and begins dancing to the music of a tango)
    I was not born in Buenos Aires.
    My father came from Rovno Gubernya.
    But now I'm here . . . I'm dancing a tango:
    Di dee di!
    Dee di dee di!
    I am easily assimilated.
    I am so easily assimilated.

    I never learned a human language.
    My father spoke a High Middle Polish.
    In one half-hour I'm talking in Spanish:
    Por favor!
    I am easily assimilated.
    I am so easily assimilated.

    It's easy, it's ever so easy!
    I'm Spanish, I'm suddenly Spanish!

    And you must be Spanish, too.
    Do like the natives do.
    These days you have to be
    In the majority.

    TWO LOCAL SENORES (enter, and serenade the Old Lady).
    Tus labios rubí
    Dos rosas que se abren a mí;
    Conquistan mi corazón,
    Y sólo can
    Una canción.

    OLD LADY (sings, imitating them).
    Tus labios rubí
    Drei-viertel Takt, man tres cher ami,
    Oui oui, si si, ja ja ja, yes, yes, da, da.
    Je ne sais quoi.

    SENORES (sing as a crowd begins to gather).
    Me muero, me sale una hernia!

    OLD LADY (sings).
    A long way from Rovno Gubernya!

    ALL (including Cunegonde, who has caught the spirit).
    Tus labios rubí
    Dos rosas que se abren a mí;
    Conquistan mi corazón,
    Y sólo can
    Una divina canción.
    De tus labios rubí
    Rubí! Rubí!
(Everybody is dancing. At the end of the dance Cunegonde is cheerful.)

CUNEGONDE (speaking). Yes.


CUNEGONDE. I've made up my mind. I will marry the Governor. I will save Candide. My heart breaks.

(Cunegonde runs into the palace. The crowd exits. The Old Lady smiles and nods. Martin reappears. Candide returns from his hiding Place.)

OLD LADY (to Candide). You must leave. They will arrest you.

CANDIDE. I can't leave Cunegonde.

OLD LADY. Go make your fortune and come back for us. Cune­gonde will be safe. The Governor suggested that she stay and read to him at night. I think he's blind. Go quickly.

CANDIDE. That's very kind of him, but. . .

OLD LADY. Go quick. Quick. Go. (She exits.)

CANDIDE. Where shall I go?

MARTIN. What difference does it make where anybody goes? Be on your way, boy.

CANDIDE. There is no place for me. Wherever I go I am beaten and starved. I mean no harm to anybody and yet I have mur­dered three men in the name of love. I am alone now. . . .

MARTIN. So are we all. It is the worst of all possible worlds, and if it wasn't, we would make it so.

CANDIDE. No, no. Although I have seen a great deal of evil it is my conviction that man is . . . (He chokes on the words) hon­est and kind and . . . well . . . and . . . well, there must be a place where he is honest and kind and good and noble and . . .

MARTIN. There is such a place. And if I thought you believed that foolishness I would send you there. They would like you.

CANDIDE. I do believe that foolishness. I mean, I do believe what I believe, but I don't believe there's such a place in this world. I mean there is such a place, of course, put I haven't found it— (Almost in tears) Oh, I am tired. And I don't understand anything anymore.

MARTIN. In the highest peak of the Andes there is a country called Eldorado. I was born there. For hundreds of years . . . (Points to palace) their armies have been trying to find it. They break their backs on the mountains, and the people of Eldorado come out to stare at the soldiers. They do not under­stand what a soldier is, nor do they care that he came to kill them. They give him a house, send him to school, give him useful work, and make him smile. No enemy soldier has ever wanted to come back.

CANDIDE. Paradise.

MARTIN. No, no. Not Paradise. They would think Paradise a sick man's dream.

CANDIDE. Why did you leave such a place?

MARTIN. They put me out. They said I was the first man ever born there who wasn't happy. They said I was diseased and could not stay with them. They asked me to go. Perhaps they were right. I don't believe that man is honest, or kind, or good.

CANDIDE. Oh, I do, sir. I do believe it. I haven't anything else to believe in. Would they take me?

MARTIN. Yes. They will take any man who comes in peace. (Throws him a compass) Go up the Andes and turn left. Here is an emerald compass that points straight to a diamond hill. There's an elephant at the door. He will carry you in. Give him my regards.

(The Governor, Cunegonde and the Old Lady appear on the balcony.)
    CANDIDE (sings).
    Once again I must be gone,
    Moving on to Eldorado.
    Shall my hopes be answered there?
    Is that land so good and fair?
    Though that Eden well maybe,
    Though it shine however brightly,
    Still no bright yonder can delight me;
    Cunegonde won't be there to share it with me.

    CUNEGONDE (sings).
    Though it may seem
    I am discarding Candide,
    Truly my scheme
    Is for safeguarding Candide.
    Though I abhor
    This loveless connection,
    I'll feign affection
    For your protection, Candide.

    GOVERNOR (sings).
    Why should I wed?
    Marriage is awful, you know.
    Passion is dead
    Once it is lawful, you know.
    No, I'll not wed.
    That would be the worst thing.
    After the first fling
    Women are awful, you know.

    OLD LADY (sings).
    Haven't I got brains?
    I'm devilishly witty!
    We were just in chains, and now we're sitting pretty!

    my love
    Ah farewell
    my love

    If you've got brains and you're clever and witty
    You can make out and wind up sitting pretty!

    No, for passion is dead when it's lawful you know.
    No, no, no, marriage is awful you know.
    Farewell my love
    Farewell Cunegonde fare­well farewell!

MARTIN (speaks). Well, they all believe what they are screaming. We'll see.

    Though it may seem I am discarding Candide
    Truly my scheme is for safeguarding Candide
    Though I abhor this love­less connection
    Farewell to my love
    Farewell to my love
    Farewell to my love
    Farewell to my love

    Haven't I got brains
    I'm devilishly witty
    We were just in chains
    And now we're sitting pretty
    Sitting pretty
    You've got to have brains
    You ve got to have brains
    You've got to have brains to live

    Why should I wed
    Marriage is awful you know
    Passion is dead once it is lawful you know
    Women are awful after the first fling
    No, no, I'll not wed
    No, no, I'll not wed
    No, no, I'll not wed, no.

    Though that Eden may well be
    Though it shine however brightly
    What bright yonder can delight me
    Farewell to my love
    Farewell to my love
    Farewell to my love

(At the end of the quartet, Candide lifts the compass, raises it, smiles and runs off.)


Continue to Act Two, Scene 1

Compiled by Michael H. Hutchins