Music by Leonard Bernstein
- Set Designer
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- Pangloss | Martin | Señor II
- Maximilian | Inquisitor II | Judge II | Captain | Hermann Augustus
- The Old Lady
- Governor | Señor I | Vanderdendur | Sultan Achmet | Crook
- Inquisitor I | Judge I | Charles Edward | Ragotski
- Inquisitor III | Judge III | Tsar Ivan
Candide grows up in a seemingly idyllic world at Thunder-ten-Tronck Castle in Westphalia, along with Cunegonde, her brother Maximilian, and the maid Paquette. Their tutor Pangloss teaches them his theory and life philosophy that this is the “best of all possible worlds.” At their lessons, the students simply repeat their tutor’s teachings.
Candide and Cunegonde become interested in one another and discover their first erotic feelings. Unexpectedly, a war destroys their home and disperses the five in all directions. During the war, all the others are killed. Candide begins a search for his loved one: Holding the supposedly dead Cunegonde in his arms, he sings a lament.
In an old beggar Candide discovers his old teacher Pangloss, who is in a right wretched state, clearly marked by illness. But Candide concludes that all suffering contains an element of good, and continues on his journey with Pangloss.
On their journey to Lisbon, the two are subjected to a storm at sea and are shipwrecked. On top of that, when they arrive they witness the devastating earthquake.
To prevent any further earthquakes, Candide and Pangloss are led off to be executed in an auto-da-fé. Candide just barely survives, while Pangloss is killed.
In Paris, Candide finds his lover Cunegonde again, now making her living as a prostitute together with the Old Lady. Cunegonde reflects on her state, and comforts herself singing the praises of luxury, champagne, and pearls. In a duet, Candide and Cunegonde tell one another of their fate and sing about having found one another once again.
Out of jealously, Candide kills two of Cunegonde’s regulars (the Archbishop and the Jew) and has to flee with the two women. They board a ship and begin a journey across the great ocean.
New World | Buenos Aires
The Old Lady and Cunegonde now live with the governor of Buenos Aires. While dancing a tango, the Old Lady speaks extensively about her long life, emphasizing that she could fit in anywhere with ease.
Cunegonde becomes the governor’s mistress, with the promise of marriage. Cunegonde and the Old Lady reassure one another of their irresistibility, praising their physical superiority and the effect they have on the world of men.
New World | Eldorado
In the jungle, Candide witnesses how two women are enjoying themselves sexually with two monkeys. Misunderstanding the situation, he thinks he has to save the two women, and kills the monkeys, only to elicit mournful cries from the women. Only now does he understand that the monkeys were actually the women’s lovers.
Again on the run, Candide finally makes it to Eldorado, which seems paradisiacal. But without having found Cunegunde, Candide is quickly bored by the harmonic state of affairs, and he leaves Eldorado with 80 sheep. But while travelling, Candide loses everything, left only with two sheep.
New World | Buenos Aires: Three Years Later
Three years later in Buenos Aires, Cunegonde and the Old Lady are still waiting for the promised marriage. General boredom and dissatisfaction are the rule. Slowly but surely, they become weary of their situation.
New World | New Westphalia
In the jungle of Montevideo, Candide reencounters the supposedly dead Maximilian and Paquette. Maximilian is now a leading Jesuit and Paquette is a nun on pilgrimage. In an argument, Candide stabs Maximilian. Candide then meets Martin, the anti-Pangloss, the pessimistic alter ego of his former teacher. With cynical comments, Martin makes fun of moral values such as “free will”, “humanity”, and “love”, and mocks them as empty words.
In order to leave for Venice, Candide purchases the Santa Rosalia from Venderdendur: But the boat is not seaworthy and sinks, and Martin goes down with the ship.
Candide is just barely able to make his way to Venice. On the way, he meets five kings who had been dethroned and Pangloss. Arriving in Venice, all are wearing masks.
Cunegonde, the Old Lady, Maximilian, and Paquette have all made their way to Venice. In an old casino they all meet again. When the masks fall, Candide sees that Cunegonde’s only life purpose has become a longing for riches and luxury. Disillusioned, Candide remains behind. Finally, a simple farm becomes their new home. Nobody is as they once were. Candide would like to marry Cunegonde, for he has arrived at the conclusion, “We’ll make our garden grow.”