78° Festival MMF


by Leonard Bernstein

Philosophical tale, surreal Bildungsroman, scathing social satire: the ingredients of the "best seller" of Voltaire, published in 1759 in response to the optimistic doctrines of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, according to whom whatever happens we are still living in the "best of all possible worlds" and immediately put to the Index by the Catholic Church, could not be indifferent to the genial personality of Leonard Bernstein. Two centuries later, on October 29, 1956, at the Colonial Theater of Boston is staged for the first time the operetta Candide. Picaresque adventures around the globe, tragic deaths and unexplained resurrections narrated with all the flamboyant echoes of Broadway musicals, from the overwhelming score of one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century.

Comic opera in two acts
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Libretto by Hugh Wheeler
based on the novella of the same name by Voltaire

New production

Sung in English. Surtitles in Italian and English.

Total duration: 2 hours and 40 minutes
First part - 75 minutes
Interval - 25 minutes
Second part - 60 minutes


John Axelrod

Francesco Micheli

Federica Parolini

Daniela Cernigliaro

Light design
Angelo Linzalata

Choreographic movements
Alfonso Cayetano

Orchestra and Choir of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Maggio Danza
Lella Costa

Keith Jameson

Laura Claycomb

Dr. Pangloss/Martin
Richard Suart

The old lady
Anja Silja

Gary Griffiths

Jessica Renfro

The Captain/The Governor/Vanderdendur/Crook
Chris Merritt

Christopher Lemmings

Inquisitor/Charles Edward
Timothy Martin

Inquisitor/Hermann Augustus
Luca Casalin

Inquisitor/Tsar Ivan
Hector Guedes

Inquisitor/Sultan Achmet
Christopher Turner

Alessandro Calamai

Gianluca di Lauro



Leonard Bernstein's candide at the Opera di Firenze
Leonard Bernstein's candide at the Opera di Firenze

The baron Thunder-ten-Tronck lives in his castle in Westphalia together with his wife and his children Maximilian and Cunegonde, his illegitimate nephew Candide and the servant, Paquette. Having been convinced by the philosopher Pangloss that they are happy, they live a life without cares. Candide and his cousin Cunegonde are in love, but since he is considered socially inferior, he is banished and forced to enroll in the Bulgar Army who attack and kill the inhabitants of the castle.  Later the young man encounters Pangloss who recounts that he was brought back to life by an anatomist’s scalpel, and even though he is now a beggar, he has not lost his optimism. The two set sail for Lisbon, but upon arriving, the city is destroyed by a volcanic eruption and earthquake and they are tried for heresy, resulting in Pangloss being hanged and Candide flogged. Then he goes to Paris, where surprisingly he finds Cunegonde and after killing the girl's two suitors, escapes with her and the Old Lady to Cadice where they board a ship bound for the New World.


The three fugitives arrive in Buenos Aires at the same time that Maximilian and Paquette arrive, miraculously revived and dressed as slaves. The Governor declares his love to Cunegonde and Maximilian while Candide, being chased by the police, escapes into the jungle with the half-breed Cacambo. Here he accidentally stabs Maximilian before discovering the legendary El Dorado. After sending Cacambo to Buenos Aires with a golden sheep to ransom Cunegonde, Candide arrives in Suriname and meets the pessimist Martin and Vanderdendur, who offers him a ship in exchange for his last golden sheep. The ship sinks but he is saved by another ship on its way to Venice with on board five dethroned kings and Pangloss, returned to life once again. Venice is wild with the Carnival and Cunegonde, together with the Old Lady, entertain the players at the Casino. Candide, even though he feels disillusioned by her behavior, returns to a farm in Westphalia and asks her to marry him.

Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts on August 25, 1918 and began studying the piano at ten. He attended Harvard University and even before graduating, made his conducting debut with his music for a production of Aristophanes’ play The Birds. He continued his studies at the Berkshire Music Center founded by Serge Koussevitzky, and later became his assistant. In 1943 he was appointed assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic, making his debut at Carnegie Hall on November 14 when he was called to substitute an ailing Bruno Walter.  From 1945 through 1947 he was the Music Director of the New York City Symphony Orchestra, and from 1958 to 1969

he held the same position at the New York Philharmonic where he was later made Honorary Director.  He was the first American conductor to lead the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, and is the composer of numerous compositions for orchestra and for musical theater, such as Candide (1956), Wonderful Town(1953) and West Side Story (1957).

Born in Houston in 1966, at sixteen he was accepted to follow Leonard Bernstein during the production of his final opera, A Quiet Place.  After graduating cum laude from St. John’s School,  in 1988 he completed a Bachelor's Degree in Music from Harvard University and later studied conducting with Ilya Musin at the State Conservatory of St. Petersburg. In 1996 he founded the Orchestra X in Houston, and three years later became the assistant to Christoph Eschenbach. Chief Conductor of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester (2004-2009) and Musical Director of the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire (2009-2013), in 2011 he was invited first as Principal Conductor and then as Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica Giuseppe Verdi di Milano.  Since 2014 he is the Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Real Orquestra Sinfónica of Seville.

Born in Bergamo in 1972, after a degree in Modern Letters, he took a diploma at the Scuola d’arte Drammatica Paolo Grassi in Milan.  Assistant director for regional opera companies in Tuscany and Lombardy and for the Wexford Festival Opera, in 1997 he made his debut with the opera La Cantarina by Niccolò Piccinni produced for the Museum of the Teatro alla Scala.  He has worked with the As.Li.Co and staged productions of Roméo et Juliette at the Arena di Verona, La Bohème e Otello at Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Teatro Massimo di Palermo and Adriana Lecouvreur at the Opéra de Nice. Librettist and director of Alice nel paese delle meraviglie e I musicanti di Brema, he won the Premio Abbiati in 2009 for Bianco, Rosso e Verdi, and since 2012 he is the Artistic Director of the Sferisterio di Macerata.

Wed 3 June, ore 20:30
Sat 23 May, ore 20:30
Fri 29 May, ore 20:30
Sun 31 May, ore 15:30

Stalls 1 € 120
Stalls 2 € 90
Stalls 3 € 70
Boxes € 40
Gallery € 25
Limited visibility € 10

Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Piazzale Vittorio Gui, 1
50144 Firenze

Dettagli e mappa
Oltre il sipario
Opera di Firenze
23, 29, May; 3 June, at 19.45
31 May, at 14.45