This is a letter that Lillian Hellman wrote to Leonard Bernstein in late 1958 concerning revisions for the upcoming London Production of Candide.

Dearest Lennie,

I've given up the hope of the phone. And maybe it's better to have it on paper, anyway. I've written to Dick and talked to him. His Christmas vacation comes up soon and it will be about the only working time he'll have.

Bobby, Stewart and I had three long conferences. I thought there wouldn't be more that a week's work on the script. But I was wrong. Never mind: it has to be done and I feel cheerful now about it.

These were the decisions. They all had good reasons, but I hope we won't have to go into the reasons in any more conferences. It's only by the greatest tensing of fists that I can bear any more work on "Candide".

First, and the only real work for you: No question that B. A. boredom song did not work either in Bway production or in concert. But we need a song there, in that place. Stewart has rewritten the scene, and most of it is pretty good, but not good enough. I'll do it over. I think this time the song should be between ladies, most of the verses for the Old Lady, and should be a cozy conference between women about why men love them. They have everything all wrong: men like you to be extravagant because it makes them seem rich; men like you to be lazy because it shows you are aristocratic; men like you to nag because it shows you still have an interest in their affairs, Etc. I am spitballing, of course. Any "wisdom from women" will do. I have written all this to Dick.

Second: We need two new stanzas of Best of All Possible to conform with new scene. I have written to Dick.

Third: Lisbon now has a kind of ballet and the experts thought Hurry, Hurry, Hurry could be used. That's up to you.

Four: We have decided to use Touche's lyric - part of it -for What a Day. Was it ever orchestrated?

Five: Martin now opens B. A. with one or two verses of Best of All now to be called Worst of All, and in a slow version. I have written this to Dick.

Six: We have restored some of the original Venice society talk in small vignettes to come between music. The plan is to use Lady Frilly for the music. (Dancers will perform)

Seven: We have restored travel scenes, -- not restored, done new ones in pantomime - between Venice and Westphalia. I think travel music is in published score. Is that true?

Eight: Bobby wants to know who has the parts for the musicians.

The show goes into rehearsal Feb 23 and Bobby sails for London the first week in January. From here on in will you get in touch with Dick, and with Bobby for what information he needs.

The trouble with Candide is that it didn't fail.

Love and kisses. Lillian


  • "Dick" is lyricist Richard Wilbur
  • "Bobby" is director Robert Lewis
  • "Stewart" is Michael Stewart who assisted Hellman in the script revisions for this production.
  • "B.A." is Buenos Aires.
  • The "boredom song" is Quiet.


Compiled by Michael H. Hutchins