Reviews: Candide - Michigan Opera Theatre

Reviews: Candide

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Julie - Aronica

One of the best performances we’ve ever seen!

 

Daniel - Rochester

Excellent. Loads of talent —great voices.. interesting staging. Having Voltaire on stage was all the time was a smart decision. Better than Harold Prince’s version in 1973

 

David Arcangeli - Rochester

The voices were melodic and beautiful! The cast made the story come alive with spirit and candor. Bravo

 

Maureen - Detroit

superb in every way. i can't believe i got to see those performers in that venue for that price.

 

Dan - Rochester Hills

Candide is funny, serious, ironic, satiric and a good history lesson. Voltaire wrote this masterpiece during the Age of Enlightenment when the whole Western world changed – philosophically, intellectually, politically and scientifically. It is a scorching review of how the world can go wrong and can be wrong. But it also resolves into a set of solutions and ends on an optimistic note. And what better way to be exposed to Voltaire than to see and hear a young group of extraordinarily talented vocalists and performers? It is well worth the time to enjoy this troupe present their interpretation of Leonard Bernstein’s take on this great work of art.

 

Lisa - Berkley

This was a truly delightful way to spend an evening. One of the very best operas MOT has presented. The acting was excellent, the singing was superb, and the staging was a joy to watch. The narrator's performance was spot-on. If I had the time, I see this opera again.

 

Ira - Bloomfield Hills

I knew the music - tho not that there was but one performer for each instrument. The dialog helped provide some continuity to what is intentionally a very wacky jump all over the place plot with its many reincarnated characters.

 

Dr Theodore Fellenbaum - Fenton

Thoroughly enjoyable evening filled with outstanding performances by both the orchestra and singers.
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Richard Marlatt ,a perfect Voltaire.
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Harry Greenleaf as Dr Pangloss and Michael Day as Candide deliver performances that were both acted and sung that can only be called OUTSTANDING in anyone's book!

 

Jurgen - Lansing

There are so many versions of "Candide," it's hard to keep them straight. It would have been nice if the program had told us which version we saw this weekend. This one was decidedly narration heavy, and thus certainly not Bernstein's so-called definitive (and last) "opera" version. But it was as enjoyable as any version I have seen.
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This was top notch work. The production was splendidly accomplished, with clever directing of the chosen "semi-staged" approach, solid conducting, fantastic choral work, and very strong solo singing, especially by the splendid tenor in the lead. The acting by the cast was convincing (and very funny), and the use of amplification was subtle and inobtrusive. The audience (including me) clearly had a wonderful time. This "Candide" shows yet again that MOT is able to produce extraordinary work in every opera genre out there.

 

Barbara

It was wonderful to see a performance of this show with bona fide operatic voices! The minimalist staging was clever, although I'd like to have seen a little more done (other than the ever-changing flag colors) on the background screen. I applaud MOT for developing young performers and promoting modern works on the outreach stage at Macomb Performing Arts Center (and thanks to Macomb, too!).

 

Charley Bird - Clinton Township

Fantastic. There are many layers of delight in this staging of this operetta, and of the operetta itself. The choice to have Voltaire be the narrator throughout the performance was excellent. I could easily see his imagination at work as the author of Candide, it all springs forth from his mind as he tells the story. You literally see into his mind as the characters come to life. And the performers bring that story to life, through their marvelous voices and their acting. If you were considering "trying" an opera for the first time, you would not go wrong seeing this as your first. If you are an opera fan and haven't seen it, see it. It's great. I tend to evaluate a show relative to the ticket price, was it worth the cost of the ticket, less, more? This was easily worth several times the price of the ticket. Don't miss it.

 

C M Les - Birmingham

Caught the Detroit Opera Theater's production of "Candide" the other night. I've never read any Voltaire, but my understanding was that somebody in the Optimism philosophy camp in the mid-18th century yanked his particular chain, and the novella was a quick one-off manic thing that by some grave mistake made to the publisher. Not, apparently, by way of an editor.
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Magnificent music by Leonard Bernstein. Brilliant staging (a small- basically an augmented string quartet- orchestra placed on stage, around which the action wandered (I'm sorry, but if you're holding the only violin in the house, you're not the "principal violinist", you're the violin section.)), and singers who show what can be done with an otherworldly combination of talent, skill and practice (I'm impressed to be a member of a species that can produce people who can sing "Glitter and Be Gay"- heck, I can't even hum it).
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And the plot, well, probably nothing sillier than anything Verdi, Puccini, or, for that matter, Gilbert and Sullivan or Rogers and Hammerstein ever came up with (for some reason, Sondheim seems to be the only opera/operetta guy who can actually tell a rational story without the feeling at the end that We've Gotta Tie Up All The Loose Ends Quick Before The Musicians Get Overtime.). But I think there should be a basic rule in the theater: you're only allowed one deus ex machina per show. I lost track, but it seemed like they were pulling one of those every 3-4 minutes. Dead people coming back on a regular basis (one claiming that he was cured by the anatomist's knife. As an anatomist, I think that shows a lack of due diligence in starting a dissection.) Lots of "what the heck are you doing here? In Uruguay? Didn't I last see you in Holland? Doing something completely different? ". A fair number of venereal diseases that spread like wildfire and then get magically cured when they're no longer useful to the plot. The kind of series of pure coincidences that, really, only George MacDonald Fraser could pull off, and he at least uses footnotes. And what kind of stake do you have to stick in Dr.Pangloss' heart to get him to finally die? The supertitles helped (It really was in English. I think.), but sometimes even they got lost.
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Any show that requires a narrator (in this production, Voltaire himself, though even he seemed a bit confused at times over what it was he'd started) suggests that you might have a problem with your audience following a story line. In this version (apparently there were several over a period of 18 years from the first production, most of whose writers (including the great Lillian Hellman, for whom this was decidedly not her first rodeo), weren't speaking to one another, except via their lawyers, by the time the dust had settled), Voltaire seems to compete with Candide himself to see who can get the most lines. But Candide gets the most non-sequiturs. Candide, something of an airhead, sings, and beautifully. Voltaire explains stuff. The two may or may not have coordinated their efforts.
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Bernstein was 37 when this was first produced, and he'd been a major fixture on the American musical scene for at least a dozen years by then. Still, even at that pre-West Side Story point in his career, was there nobody to take him aside somewhere along the line and say, "Lenny, you gotta take an hour off this thing"?
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In the end, I'm kind of afraid that that's what they did.
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It might be best to think of it as an oratorio with restless singers, and just enjoy the music.

 

Jan Young - Lexington

I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. The voices were very solid, and the acting well done. The staging was very clever, with some fine imaginative touches. I just loved the street sweeper's vacuum cleaner!

 

Bill and Brenda - Belleville

We thoroughly enjoyed this performance of Candide, our first time seeing it live. We have Candide on DVD with Bernstein helping narrate and conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The MOT performance was brilliantly done, the voices were melodic, and the acting superb. (Knowing the story in advance certainly was an advantage.) The second act had a little too much dialog with not enough music, but overall it was a delight!

 

Harriet S - Detroit

Excellent and meaningful performance of a complex opera (or operetta - whatever you choose to call it) that seems relevant (unfortunately) to today's world as it reflects the difficulty (and necessity) of staying optimistic. All done with beautiful singing and good acting. I strongly recommend opera lovers - and even history buffs- to take the opportunity to see this rarely produced work. The music is amazing and the production was excellent. It was well worth our trip to this venue.
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I found the staging confusing to start with but after a few moments it "worked". (The flag bearer on the side was a nice touch.) I went home and looked briefly at Voltaire's "Candide" and it's filled with even more complications. I don't know how Bernstein and the writers were able to get it to "work" as well as it did. (On a minor level, I would have liked more in the program to help us understand which version of Candide we were seeing. I appreciated the 5 minute interview with Leonard Bernstein on the website that I saw before I attended the March 9th production.
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The singing and acting was superb. The sound projection was uneven in this venue, but I moved forward and more center from where I was originally sitting, and then had less difficulty hearing the extensive comments. I thought I needed the speech in supertitles as well, but when I was closer to the stage I had no problem.
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The characters were interpreted well by each of the singers. I particularly enjoyed the interpretations of "Candide" the "Old Lady" and the "Street Sweeper" but all of them were beautifully and strongly sung or said in this complex production.
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Once again- if possible head northwest to Berman and take this opportunity to see an opera that is rarely produced and is a wonderful musical/theatrical experience.

 

CorinneO - Bingham Farms

I absolutely loved this production. My favorite cast member is the lead, Michael Day. He was superb. I enjoyed all of the singers and the small orchestra. Everyone did a great job. I also like the musicians being onstage--I wish that they were there more often. Again I say to MOT--keep up the good work. I really appreciate it.

 

MaggieZ - Plymouth

First, I enjoyed the pre-opera talk, and please extend my thanks to the two young people who gave such a thorough, helpful, and interesting presentation. Second, I thought the opera was a marvel. The singing was superb, the staging was clever and magical, the orchestra was wonderful, the chorus was strong and stayed strong through a kajillion costume changes. I liked the actor who played Voltaire very much, such an expressive face! And his narration moved the convoluted plot along. My only complaint is the length. I was getting weary of the plot twists as the time went on, wondering when and how this story would end. But it did end, in a satisfying way, and I applauded with enthusiasm. Bravo for a true work of art, well done.

 

Cindi - Plymouth

My husband and I saw "Candide" at the Berman Theater in Bloomfield Township last night! It was simply wonderful ~ Perfect, in every way! The orchestra, vocalists, costumes, arrangement... just amazing. Voltaire is my favorite philosopher and I felt like I got to know him, last night. He was played exactly as I imagined he would be. Thank you to the Berman Theater, and all of the wonderful performers for a dazzling and fun evening. Bravo!

 


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