In the country of Westphalia, Candide is about to be married to the lovely Cunegonde. Dr. Pangloss, Candide's teacher expounds his famous philosophy, to the effect that all is for the best in "The Best of All Possible Worlds". The happy couple sing their marriage duet, "Oh, Happy We", and the ceremony is about to take place when war breaks out between Westphalia and Hesse. Westphalia is destroyed, and Cunegonde is seemingly killed. Candide takes comfort in Panglossian doctrine and sets out on his journeys.
In the public square of Lisbon, the Infant Casmira, a deranged mystic in the caravan of an Arab conjuror, predicts dire happenings. The Inquisition appears, in the persons of two ancient Inquisitors and their lawyer, and many citizens are tried and sentenced to hang, including Candide and Dr. Pangloss. Suddenly an earthquake occurs, killing Dr. Pangloss, and Candide barely escapes.
Candide, faced with the loss of both Cunegonde and Dr. Pangloss, starts out for Paris. He is unable to reconcile Dr. Pangloss's ideas with the bitter events that have occurred, but concludes that the fault must lie within himself, rather than in the philosophy of optimism.
Cunegonde turns up alive in Paris, a demi-mondaine in a house shared by a Marquis and a Sultan. A party is in progress. Urged by the Old Lady, who serves as her duenna, Cunegonde arrays herself in her jewels. Candide stumbles into the scene and is amazed to find Cunegonde still alive. In a duel, he kills both the Marquis and the Sultan, and flees with Cunegonde, accompanied by the Old Lady.
They fall in with a band of devout Pilgrims on their way to the New World and sail with them. Arriving in Buenos Aires, the group is brought to the Governor's Palace, where all except Cunegonde and the Old Lady are immediately enslaved. A street cleaner appears in the person of the pessimistic Martin, warning Candide of the future. The Governor serenades Cunegonde and she, abetted by the Old Lady, agrees to live in the palace, but Candide, fired by reports of Eldorado, escapes once more and sets off to seek his fortune, planning to return for Cunegonde later.
In the heat of Buenos Aires, Cunegonde, the Old Lady and the Governor display their fraying nerves, and the Governor resolves to get rid of the tiresome ladies. Candide returns from Eldorado, his pockets full of gold and searches for Cunegonde. The Governor, however, has had both Cunegonde and the Old Lady tied up in sacks and carried to a boat in the harbor. He tells Candide that the women have sailed for Europe, and Candide eagerly purchases a leaky ship from the Governor and dashes off. As the Governor and his suite watch from his terrace, the ship with Candide and Martin casts off and almost immediately sinks.
Candide and Martin have been rescued from the ship, and are floating about the ocean on a raft. Martin is devoured by a shark, but Dr. Pangloss miraculously reappears. Candide is overjoyed to find his old teacher, and Pangloss sets about repairing the damage done his philosophy by Candide's experiences.
In a luxurious palazzo of Venice, Cunegonde turns up as a scrubwoman, the Old Lady as a woman of fashion. Candide and Dr. Pangloss appear and are caught up by the merriment, the wine and the gambling, and Candide is swindled out of his remaining gold by the avaricious crowd. He is penniless, without friends and without hope.
Utterly disillusioned, he returns to the ruined Westphalia. Cunegonde, Pangloss, and the Old Lady appear and within them a spark of optimism still flickers. Candide, however, has had enough of the foolish Panglossian ideal and tells them all that the only way to live is to try and make some sense of life and to Make Our Garden Grow.
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Vocal & Musical Forces
Soprano, 2 Mezzo-Sopranos, Tenor, Tenor/Baritone, Baritone; minor: 2 Sopranos, 4 Tenors, 6 Baritones, 2 Basses; Chorus
Barbara Cook (Cunegonde)
Robert Rounseville (Candide)
Max Adrian (Dr. Pangloss & Martin)
Irra Petina (Old Lady)
William Olvis (Governor of Buenos Aires)
Boris Aplon (Marquis)
Louis Edmonds (Maximilian)
Joseph Bernard (Sultan)
Conran Raid (King of Hess)
William Chapman (Ferone)
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