Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 25, 2012

CANDIDE!

VSU Opera presents the best of all possible Candides

VALDOSTA — Mix the musical genius of Leonard Bernstein, with the satiric brilliance of Voltaire and just a dash of 21st century play, and Valdosta audiences should find a performance to remember in Valdosta State University Opera’s “Candide.”

In his conductor’s notes, VSU Music’s Kenneth Kirk explains that Voltaire was “a humorist, satirist, and hugely influential thinker, and ‘Candide’ is his masterwork. In it, he lampooned the philosophy that ‘All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds,’ espoused by Pope, Leibniz, and Rousseau.”

Voltaire couldn’t find any best possible world in the 1758 one that included the violent madness of the Seven Years’ War, missionaries mistreating natives, and an earthquake that ravaged Lisbon a few years earlier.

So, in his book, Voltaire sets the sunshiny optimism of sheltered Candide into the maelstrom that is the world, and Candide’s slow disillusionment from the best of all possible worlds to one where he takes the more guarded approach of “... we must cultivate our garden.”

Though biting, Voltaire invested ample humor into his satire.

American composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein brought his vision to this French work in the mid-1950s. While Bernstein may be a genius, his reputation was not built on his operetta of “Candide.” The show was critically panned at its premiere. Numerous creative minds have tinkered with the opera through the decades.

By adding slapstick and contemporary touches, VSU Opera is taking a page from the 2004 New York Philharmonic production that starred Kristin Chenowitch, says Eric Brandt Nielsen who serves as the VSU show’s stage director and choreographer. This production adds touches to make it a far more enjoyable show to produce and watch.

This slapstick humor, along with Voltaire’s original storyline, makes “Candide” something of an opera not intended for children, says Carol Mikkelsen, the show’s producer and director. There will be no Friday morning performance for school students for “Candide” as there has been with past VSU Opera productions.

Kirk adds “a word from the censor” in his conductor’s remarks: “Much of Voltaire’s humor comes from his outrageous satire, which makes for hilarious, but also rude and risque, comedy. Opera is often not politically correct, and viewers are warned that ‘Candide’ is an equal opportunity offender.”

Starring in the title role is guest artist Thomas Trotter, a renowned opera star known for “that special combination of a beautiful voice and a compelling dramatic presence.” Trotter has performed a variety of operatic roles in venues throughout the United States.

Guest artist Raymond Hughes also joins the cast, in the roles of the narrator, Pangloss and the Philosopher. He has made his international reputation with conducting posts in Germany and South Africa, and as a guest conductor in Rome, the Festival of the Aegean, and with the Norwegian Opera in Oslo.

They join a VSU cast that has been rehearsing diligently since August, Mikkelsen says. The VSU Opera is traditionally performed in the spring, so presenting “Candide” by late October has required some adjustments ... but that is the price of cultivating one’s garden.

Text Only
Local News
  • Jim Zachary Mug shot.jpg Zachary named The Valdosta Daily Times’ editor

    Veteran newspaper editor Jim Zachary has assumed the editor’s chair at The Valdosta Daily Times.
    During the past two decades Zachary has been one of the most decorated community newspaper journalists in Georgia and Tennessee.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-griner001.jpg Griner takes oath

     Surrounded by family, friends, and fellow commissioners, Clay Griner took the oath of office Monday morning as the Lowndes County Super District 5 commissioner.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-man_hunt001.jpg Dump truck thieves sought

    Authorities continued searching for suspects Monday evening connected to a stolen dump truck involved in a chase with law-enforcement.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • City workers strike natural gas main

    A gas leak evacuated a neighborhood Monday when workers struck a natural gas main.

    July 29, 2014

  • education.jpg Desegregation status approved

    Forty-three years after an initial lawsuit was filed to force the system to desegregate, Valdosta City Schools has officially been approved for “unitary status.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ARociewilliams_002.jpg Woman shares nearly a century of lessons

    With nearly 100 years of life under her belt, Ocie Viola Williams has plenty of advice to share with the world. Her top two pieces of advice: know the importance of education and don’t expect a teacher to raise your child for you. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • psst1 photo page copy.jpg PSST! finishes peachy season

    Peach State Summer Theatre concluded its 2014 season Sunday, a season which broke attendance records for the professional musical theatre company.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_2381.jpeg Award-winning young professionals share success secrets

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Young Professionals hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn to highlight successful business practices.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140726_summerlibrary002.jpg Library celebrates end of summer reading program

    With the first day of school just around the corner, students are soaking in the last few weeks of summer vacation. The end of summer also means the end of the South Georgia Regional Library’s 2014 summer reading program.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • artseason1 copy.jpg A sneak peek at some area arts organizations’ 2014-15 seasons

    Beethoven. Tennessee Williams. Non-stop art. Two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 2014-15 arts season is coming.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results