1999 Royal National Theatre Production

Opened on April 13, 1999 at the Olivier Theatre, London
Closed on January 25, 2000

Production Credits | Cast | Musical Numbers | Recording | Synopsis


Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book adapted from Voltaire by Hugh Wheeler in a new version by John Caird
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
Additional Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman,
Dorothy Parker and Leonard Bernstein

Production Credits

Produced by the Royal National Theatre
Directed by John Caird
Set Designer: John Napier
Costume Designer: John Napier with Elsie Napier
Lighting Designer: Paul Pyant
Music Director: Mark W. Dorrell
Orchestrations: Bruce Coughlin
Associate Music Director: Steven Edis
Choreographer: Peter Darling
Assistant Choreographer: Lynne Page
Fight Director: Malcolm Ranson
Sound Designer: Paul Groothuis


Simon Russell Beale - Voltaire / Dr. Pangloss
Daniel Evans - Candide
Alex Kelly - Cunegonde
Beverley Klein - Old Woman
Simon Day - Maximilian / Agent
Elizabeth Renihan - Paquette/ Paraguayan Girl / Woman of Venice
Denis Quilley - Baron / Martin
Myra Sands - Baroness / Courtesan / Sheep / Woman of Venice
Richard Henders - Corporal / French Ambassador / Monkey / Captain / Tzar Ivan
David Burt - Captain / Inquisitor / The Governor / Stroke
Clive Rowe - Drill Sergeant / Cacambo
Chu Omambala - The Minister / Sultan Achmet
Ceri Ann Gregory - The Minister's Wife / Courtesan / Woman of Venice
David Arneil - James the Anabaptist / Charles Edward
Michael Wildman - Viennese Ambassador / Sailor / Agent / Adjutant
Claudia Cadette - Courtesan / Paraguayan Girl / Woman of Venice
Gabrielle Jourdan - Courtesan / Woman of Venice
Samantha Lavender - Courtesan / Woman of Venice
Leigh McDonald - Courtesan / Woman of Venice
Jax Williams - Courtesan / Queen of Eldorado / Woman of Venice
Robert Burt - Don Issacar / Agent / Theodore of Corsica
Alexander Hanson - Grand Inquisitor / Vanderdendur
Charles Millham - Inquisitor / Sheep / Stanislaus
Gilz Terrera - Monkey / Slave
Mark Umbers - King of Eldorado / Hermann Augustus

Musical Numbers

Act One


Candide - The 1999 Royal National Theatre Recording

Recording produced by Stewart Mackintosh
Engineered and mixed by Toby Allington
Orchestra conducted by Mark W. Dorrell
Recorded and mixed at Angel Studios, Islington in October 1999

Synopsis by John Caird

  • Compact Disc, 2000 [First Night (UK) CAST CD 75] (74:02 mins.)

Further recording information

by John Caird

Voltaire sits alone in the center of the stage.  Suddenly his face lights up and The Overture begins, as if inspired by his fertile imagination.  As the music continues the stage is flooded by all the Characters of his story.  By the end of the overture they are assembled all around him and sing the Voltaire Chorale to the audience.

Voltaire starts to tell his story, which begins in the country of Westphalia in the castle of the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronck, introducing his central character Candide, the illegitimate son of the Baron's sister.  Candide reveals his simplicity and innocence in Life is Happiness Indeed.  The Baron's children, Maximilian and Cunegonde, take up the same tune to introduce themselves in Life is Happiness Unending, the chambermaid Paquette joining in the final chorus along with Candide.  Thus life in the castle is painted as a structured and contented social Eden with everyone knowing their place, all blissful in their ignorance.  Voltaire now introduces Pangloss — a part he plays himself — Maximilian's tutor and professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmologico-panology, more simply described as "Optimism".

He reveals the full glory of his philosophical theory in a lesson [The Best of all Possible Worlds]  in which he convinces his four young pupils of the depth and truth of his knowledge.  Pangloss then conducts his class in a simple unaccompanied chorale of faithful affirmation.  [Universal Good] All seems to be for the best . . . until Candide and Cunegonde fall in love and rashly assume they will spend the rest of their lives together in marital bliss.  [Oh Happy We]  The Baron is horrified at the thought of his daughter marrying a bastard and promptly kicks Candide out of the castle.  [It Must Be So]  Candide wanders off into the neighboring country of Bavaria where he is pressed into the army just in time to fight a war against his own country of Westphalia.  After a series of appallingly brutal experiences, he deserts from the army and makes for Holland, where he is taken to a hospice for the sick and dying by a kindly Anabaptist called James.  Here he meets his tutor Pangloss again, now hideously disfigured with disease.  Pangloss tells Candide that the castle of ThundertenTronck was completely destroyed in the war, the Baron and his family wiped out and Cunegonde repeatedly raped and then killed by Bavarian soldiers.  Candide is heartbroken.  [Candide's Lament]  The next day Pangloss tells Candide his own story which includes an affair with the chamber maid, Paquette, which has left him with a fatal dose of the pox.  Candide is horrified but Pangloss justifies the disease with his customary optimism.  [Dear Boy]

While Candide's story has taken him to the depths of despair in Holland, Cunegonde, contrary to Pangloss's belief, has survived the war despite being raped, and has been sold in sexual slavery to a series of soldiers and aristocrats in Paris and Vienna.  [Paris Waltz]  She ends up in Portugal, mistress to a wealthy Jewish banker, Don Issacar.  While at mass one day she catches the eye of the Cardinal Inquisitor of Lisbon who forces Don Issacar into sharing Cunegonde's favours with him, on pain of a visit from the Inquisition.  Thus Cunegonde is trapped, a victim of her own powers of attraction as well as her strong personal taste for luxury.  [Glitter and Be Gay]

Pangloss recovers from the pox with the loss of only one ear and one eye.  The kindly Anabaptist James has to go to Lisbon on business and decides to take along his new philosopher friends, Pangloss and Candide, but they are shipwrecked in the Bay of Portugal and James is drowned.  Surviving the wreck, Pangloss and Candide have no sooner arrived in Lisbon than the city is struck by a devastating earthquake which kills thirty thousand of its citizens.  Pangloss's attempt to justify this terrible event as philosophical necessity is overheard by agents of the Inquisition and both friends are arrested, Pangloss for blasphemy and Candide for listening to him.  They are dragged before the Inquisition where the usual bunch of foreigners, heretics and Jews are being hanged and burned.  After a mockery of a trial, Candide is flogged and Pangloss is hanged.  [Auto-da-fé]  Witnessing these events is Cunegonde who is there as the guest of the Grand Inquisitor.  In great secrecy she sends her servant, the Old Woman, to nurse Candide back to health.

A week later, Candide is taken to see Cunegonde at Don Issacar's palace.  At first unable to believe that she is still alive, Candide is overjoyed to see her again and they have an ecstatic reunion.  [You Were Dead, You Know]  Don Issacar returns unexpectedly and in a rage of jealousy tries to kill Cunegonde.  Candide intervenes and runs Don Issacar through with his sword.  Enter the Grand Inquisitor, expecting a night of passion with Cunegonde.  Overcome with jealousy and fear, and in revenge for Cunegonde's lost honour, Candide runs him through as well.

Candide, Cunegonde and the Old Woman flee into the mountains, heading for the Spanish border.  They finally stop in the little town of Avacena in the hills of the Sierra Nevada.  As they wait in the noonday sun for the end of the siesta, the Old Woman tells the story of her life to the young lovers — a fantastic tale of noble birth followed by appalling deprivation, poverty and distress.  As the suspicious townsfolk awake from their siestas, the Old Woman makes friends with them.  [I Am Easily Assimilated]  By the end of the evening the newcomers have been joyfully assimilated into the life of the town.  Candide is befriended by Cacambo, an honest and practical jack-of-all-trades, who offers himself as Candide's servant.  The next day Candide, Cunegonde, Cacambo and the Old Woman ride off to Cadiz, resolved to escape the pursuit of the Inquisition by emigrating to the New World  [Quartet Finale]  and so Act One comes to a gloriously optimistic conclusion.

Act Two opens in South America, on the quayside in Montevideo.  As Candide and Cacambo go off in search of the Governor to get commissions in the army to fight against the Jesuit rebels, Cunegonde and the Old Woman consider the grim likelihood that they will be living in poverty in a dreary colonial outpost.  The Old Woman reminds Cunegonde that they have at least retained their feminine charms — charms they could put to good use if required.  [We Are Women]  Candide returns with the Governor, a vainglorious womanizer who takes an instant fancy to Cunegonde.  As Candide and Cacambo go off to review their new troops, the Governor declares his passion to Cunegonde.  [My Love]  Cunegonde is unhappy about betraying Candide but the Old Woman convinces her that marriage to the Governor would be financially advantageous to them all, including to Candide.  The Governor takes Cunegonde off to his palace.  Candide and Cacambo return to the quayside to find the Old Woman alone.  She tells them a terrible lie — that a boat has just arrived from Portugal and the town is swarming with Inquisition men looking for the villain who killed the Grand Inquisitor.  Candide and Cacambo flee in terror, Candide heartbroken once more to be parted from his precious Cunegonde.

Cacambo persuades Candide that if they can't fight against the Jesuits they should fight for them.  They make their way through the jungle and arrive at the Jesuit camp where Candide is amazed to find that the Father Superior is none other than Maximilian, Cunegonde's brother, who was reported to have been killed at the same time as Cunegonde but who has had a similarly miraculous escape.  [Alleluia]  After a fond reunion, Candide explains that he intends to marry Cunegonde.  Maximilian is so enraged at the prospect of his sister marrying a bastard commoner that he draws his sword to kill Candide, but before he can do so Candide runs him through and he and Cacambo are on the run once more.  After a narrow escape from a tribe of philosophical cannibals, Candide and Cacambo arrive at an impassable river.  A small canoe is moored to the bank. They have no choice but to get into it and drift downstream.  The river turns into a raging torrent and speeds the two friends through underground chasms until they are finally spewed out on to the shores of a strange and magical kingdom.  [The Ballad of Eldorado]

They stay for a few months in Eldorado, enjoying the pleasures of a Utopian paradise but Candide's longing to see Cunegonde moves them on.  They set off from Eldorado with a vast quantity of gold and precious stones loaded onto a hundred sheep, but by the time they arrive in Surinam, all but two of the sheep have been lost in a variety of disastrous accidents.  In Surinam they decide to part.  It being too dangerous for Candide to return to Montevideo, Cacambo will take half the fortune and go there alone to rescue Cunegonde and the Old Woman while Candide sails to Venice with the rest of the treasure.  They will all meet in Venice — a free state where they can live in peace and security.  But within minutes of being parted from his friend, Candide is in trouble again.  A malicious local merchant and pirate Vanderdendur cheats Candide out of his fortune and sails away leaving him to sink in a leaky little boat.  [Bon Voyage]

Candide swims ashore and decides that there must be something wrong with himself as well as the world.  [It Must Be Me]  He advertises for a companion but insists that he will only employ the unhappiest and most unfortunate person in the whole colony of Surinam.  An old road-sweeper called Martin gets the job.  [Words, Words, Words]  Candide and Martin set sail for Marseilles.  On the way they witness the sinking of Vanderdendur's ship and Candide manages to save a large part of his fortune from the wreckage.  Martin turns out to be the most pessimistic man Candide has ever met — the perfect antidote to the meaningless optimism of his old master, Pangloss.  The two men change boats at Marseilles, boarding a Tunisian galley bound for Venice.  And wonder of wonders — who should be rowing in the galley chained side by side but Pangloss and Maximilian.  They have both had miraculous escapes from being hanged and stabbed respectively, and both have fallen foul of the Tunisian authorities for sexual misdemeanours and wound up on the same punishment ship.  Candide, Martin, Maximilian and Pangloss arrive in Venice.  [Money, Money, Money]

Candide rents a small palazzo on the Grand Canal.  Pangloss and Maximilian take to the life at once, spending vast quantities of Candide's money in the casinos.  Martin and Candide spend their days looking for Cunegonde, who should have arrived from Montevideo by now with Cacambo. Cunegonde is nowhere to be found but they do meet up with Paquette, the chamber-maid from the Baron's castle who tells them her story — a woeful tale of disease, prostitution and degradation.  Then one night Candide and Martin find Cacambo.  He had been imprisoned by monks on the cemetery island of San Michelle and forced to work as a grave-digger.  He has lost all his half of the treasure and has become separated from Cunegonde and the Old Woman after arriving in Venice.  But he has remained faithful to Candide, thus proving that honesty exists and that Martin's universal pessimism is not entirely justified.

The next night is the Carnival Ball at the Doge's Palace.  Candide, Cacambo and Martin put on masks and go to the ball, sure that they will find Cunegonde there.  At the ball, Candide is pursued all evening by a pair of rapacious women, also masked, who try to fleece him out of his money.  [The Venice Gavotte]  Pangloss arrives from the casino with a whole gaggle of prostitutes and hangers-on just as Candide starts to lose his patience and give up the search for the evening.  Suddenly Candide realises who the masked women are. He rips the mask off one of their faces — it is Cunegonde.  The other figure unmasks revealing herself to be the Old Woman. Candide is devastated by the terrible change in Cunegonde  [Nothing More Than This]  while Cunegonde herself is utterly humiliated.

In Candide's palazzo all is misery.  Candide himself is silent and distant, refusing to talk to Cunegonde or anyone else.  The rest of the 'family'- Cacambo, Paquette, the Old Woman, Maximilian and Pangloss are all stuck in their various miseries, only Martin attempting to cajole them out of their self-centered woe.  [What's The Use]

Candide's silence remains unbroken.  Then one night he is walking through the dark alleys of Venice when he sees six figures in the mist — all crowned.  They get into a gondola and float down the Grand Canal towards the sea.  As Candide follows from the shore he hears them discussing the temporary nature of power and their decision to return to a more natural way of life.  [The King's Barcarolle]  This is the inspiration that Candide was looking for.  He returns to the palazzo at dawn and tells his 'family' that he is moving to the mountains.  They can go or stay as they please, but the money goes with him.  He also informs Maximilian that he intends to marry Cunegonde.  Maximilian is still violently opposed to the marriage but is powerless to prevent it.

Of course the whole household agrees to go with Candide.  They all walk for days until they arrive at a little valley high in the mountains.  Here, Candide tells them, they will live, but they must all work.  It is only work which will keep them all sane and healthy.  They all agree but Pangloss and Martin start to argue as to whether this is an optimistic or pessimistic outcome.  Candide interrupts them with a repeat of the chorale from the first scene  [Universal Good]  which everyone joins — an agreement to rid their lives of pointless theologies and philosophies.

Candide and Cunegonde pledge themselves to each other and to the growing of their garden.  At the end of all their terrible misfortunes and arduous travels — after a lifetime of thinking and wondering and hoping, all that they can say is that they should live in peace, work hard, not hurt anyone else and make their garden grow.  Their friends agree.  [Make Our Garden Grow]

[from the liner notes of the cast recording]

Compiled by Michael H. Hutchins