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Leonard Bernstein's Candide (Great Performances)
Leonard Bernstein's Candide
Great Performances
Actors: Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LuPone, Paul Groves, Lonny Price, Sir Thomas Allen
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2005     1hr 56min

Leonard Bernstein's brilliant comic operetta comes to dazzling new life under theguidance of director Lonny Price (A Class Act). Based on the classic Voltaire tale of an innocent young man's journey through a life filled w...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LuPone, Paul Groves, Lonny Price, Sir Thomas Allen
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama, Musicals, Musicals
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 05/17/2005
Original Release Date: 11/04/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 11/04/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 56min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 20
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Constance H. from LINCOLN, CA
Reviewed on 2/29/2008...
I have netflixed this twice and have enjoyed it immensely.

It is staged with great charm and imagination, and very ably sung. I adore Kristen Chenoweth as Cunegonde. (Which means "Big Butt" in Farsi, should anyone be amused by such facts.) Her voice is amazing, and she is a wonderfully comic actress.

My now 15 year old daughter saw it for the first time when she was 12. It's rather naughty, but she enjoyed it anyway. We are delighted to own it now, and it will depart our house only if it is torn out our cold, dead hands. :-)

Movie Reviews

Outstanding version of Candide... one to keep and treasure
dooby | 05/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a splendid performance of Candide. But before you go any further, you should realise that this is a concert performance, not a full scale operatic staging of the work. That said, the singing is glorious and the acting, despite this being a concert performance is outstanding. It is driven to milk all the comic elements out of the play. It all works delightfully. It is so brimful of joie de vivre, it leaves you smiling and humming all day. I must disagree with a previous reviewer who said, Bernstein wouldn't be amused. This is precisely what he would have wanted to achieve.

Sir Thomas Allen is superb as Dr. Pangloss who doubles as the narrator of the concert. Paul Groves and Patti LuPone are both excellent. But the star of this Candide is surely the lovely Kristin Chenoweth as Cunegonde, who in addition to having a magnificient voice shows that she is a natural comedienne and actress. This recording of Candide immediately goes to the top of the list. Now, if only we could have Bernstein's own production of Candide recorded live at the Barbican Theatre in London. That recording under the Deutsche Grammophon label is yet to appear on DVD.

I should comment on the camerawork which received criticism from a previous reviewer. It is a mark of the electric quality of this bravura performance that most viewers don't even notice the occasionally almost amateurish shakiness of the camera. The cameraman was shaky at times and faces occasionally went in and out of focus but a large part of what I initially attributed to poor camerawork was in fact artificially introduced motion artifacts. This is a problem with the DVD encoding and not the camera. These cause apparent jumps in the picture. But this is present only in DVD players with low end video processors. Switching to a better DVD player or processor solves the problem.

The DVD by Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen (anamorphic enhancement). Picture quality is very good, clear, sharp and with rich natural colors. The picture is flawless provided you play it on a good DVD player. It comes with 3 audio tracks, DTS 5.1, Dolby Surround 5.1 and Dolby Stereo. Excellent immersive sound. It would have been good if they had included an uncompressed PCM track as well but I suppose that's asking a bit much. All in all, an outstanding concert and one to be forever treasured.

Technical note: As noted above I noticed a strange problem with this particular DVD. It seems to play quite flawlessly on certain systems, yet throw up irritating problems on others. On one set-up I noticed numerous motion artifacts and lots of combing issues. Motion appears jerky and horizontal scan lines appear whenever fast movements occur or rapid scene changes take place. I'm not quite sure why they should be there but I attibute it to faulty encoding or improper flagging. No other DVD exhibits these errors on this particular system. I believe what one of the previous reviewers complained about could be due to this. The problem goes away when switching to an alternate system with a better deinterlacer / video processor. However that does not absolve Image Entertainment from responsibility for producing a sub-standard DVD which requires high end equipment to compensate for its deficiencies.

P.S. Bernstein's Candide can be interpreted in many ways. Some approach it as serious opera, others as light operetta, still others as a Broadway musical or even farce. Liking or disliking a particular production is very subjective. If you adhere to Bernstein's final vision of this work, enshrined in his by now legendary Barbican performance (Final, revised edition, first premiered 1988 by Scottish Opera and later performed with the LSO at the Barbican in 1989 with high powered opera stars singing all the roles), then you will tend to view this more as Opera and consequently your attitude to any performance that detracts from that operatic image (like this one) will be very negative. But you must remember that for many years, and for most Americans, Candide was considered a Broadway musical and at most a comic operetta. The two contrasting visions are equally valid and are a testament to Bernstein's genius and Candide's status as a true masterpiece."
In This Best of All Possible Worlds
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 06/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Based on the wickedly funny satire by Voltaire, CANDIDE was originally produced on Broadway in 1956. The Leonard Bernstein score was greatly admired, as were the lyrics from an unexpected combination of Richard Wilbur, John Latouche, and Dorothy Parker. Sadly, the script by Lillian Hellman and the production as a whole proved hamfisted, to say the least, and in spite of a legendary performance by Barbara Cook the show closed after a mere seventy three performances.

On-going admiration made the original cast album a favorite in theatre circles, and over the years there have been numerous attempts to revive CANDIDE--but each attempt proved problematic at best. Even when Hellman's script was discarded, the show simply proved impossible to stage... until 2004, when director Lonny Price staged the piece for a limited engagement at Lincoln Center.

Like most post-1956 directors, Price largely discarded the Hellman script. He also went quite a bit further: he makes no effort to "stage" CANDIDE in a traditional style. Placing no less than the New York Philharmonic and Westminister Symphonic Choir in the middle of the stage, using a minimum of props and even fewer costumes, Price has his actors romp through the orchestra and play directly and pointedly to the audience--and the result is theatre at its most theatrical and most uniquely powerful.

The cast is superior. Paul Groves and Kristin Chenoweth offer memorable vocals in the leading roles of Candide and his lady love Cunegonde, and while Chenoweth doesn't manage to best Barbara Cook's memorable performance she at least equals it; in her hands the famous "Glitter and be Gay" proves as comic as it is beautiful. Sir Thomas Allen provides tremendous stability in multiple roles, including the misguided Dr. Pangloss. Patti LuPone is somewhat less effective; although she performs both script and score with the remarkable vocal skills and tremendous aplomb for which she is so famous, she seems faintly miscast as The Old Lady. Even so, this indeed Patti LuPone in full stride, and that compensates for a great deal.

Like most theatre-to-film projects, CANDIDE has the occasional photography problem, but over all film director Fritz Zeilinger captures the excitement of this memorable live performance without major gaffes. If you are a fan of the score who has never seen the play in performance--well, as Dr. Pangloss might say, this is indeed the best of all possible productions. Greatly recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
Not the best of all possible worlds....
Musical theatre fan | Europe | 08/15/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"The frenetic and inappropriate staging of this concert ruined an otherwise mostly good to great presentation of Leonard Bernstein's score for me. What happened to the director since the concert version of "Sweeney Todd"? That concert was great, but here the cheap gimmicks/visual jokes employed throughout constantly got in the way of the music.

The director apparently thought that staging "Candide" a la "A funny thing happened on the way to the forum" would be a great idea, but compared to "Forum" the book for "Candide" by Hugh Wheeler is much too cynical and just not funny enough to warrant such a decision. There's a vast difference between a Voltarian satire and a TV sitcom, which is why the topical updates will date this DVD rather quickly ( I doubt that anyone will want to watch it 10 years from today!).

Examples of the director screwing up scenes: A drag show accompanying the "Paris Waltz" (this is Paris in the 18th century, not "La cage aux folles" in the 1970's). The great duet " We are women", one of the highlights in the score, is interrupted by silly spoken references to baseball and soccer and never again gains momentum. Donald Trump presiding over the "Auto-Da-Fe" proceedings. The comic schtick during "It must be so" was totally destracting and completely ruined that lyrical song through inappropriate audience laughter.

Kristin Chenoweth's singing was certainly up to the demands of the score which is operatic and not your typical musical comedy stuff. She performed "Glitter and be gay" as a vaudeville act which was funny per se, but again, the visual presentation was at the expense of the music. Since Patti LuPone is a Broadway belter and not an opera mezzo, her vocal part was changed to comply with her vocal limitations (most evident in the "First Act finale", where she couldn`t sing the high notes as written). However, her "I'm easily assimilated" was great fun. The other singers were good to excellent, with Paul Groves and Sir Thomas Allen being the standouts. The conducting and orchestra was first rate.

But why an abridged version of the overture?? This is one of the most popular concert pieces of 20th century American music and they play only half of it?

Bottom line: If you're not familiar with "Candide", get one of the cast recordings and wait for Bernstein's unmarred by gimmicks Barbican concert to be released on DVD anytime soon.