A thrilling performance of Bernstein’s Candide performed by the Bristol Opera Performance Society with some standout performances by El Leaper and Jamie Rahman.
Bernstein’s Candide is based on Hugh Wheeler’s 1759 novella ‘Voltaire’. The production takes its audience on a worldwide tour of idealistic optimism and absurdity, as the characters are swept from one place to another, traversing misfortunate events with only the love between the two main protagonists, Candide and Cunegonde, keeping their search for one another going.
Jamie Rahman as Dr. Pangloss (and a whole host of other characters) was particularly entertaining. He managed to characterise each of his different parts with unique mannerisms that had the audience in fits of giggles. However, occasionally his and some of the other parts’ voices were lost, especially when accompanied by the orchestra.
Another standout performance was by El Leaper as Cunegonde. Her voice blew the audience away with impressive high notes and charismatic acting. While, a highlight of the evening was her solo singing of the joys of wealth. Alex Robinson as Candide and Maya Wheeler Colwell as the Old Lady were as impressive as the well balanced chorus.
The single set was very minimalist, although it didn’t draw anything away from the piece, a potentially more interesting stage design could have added to the dynamic between the characters. The same could be said for the choreography which was suitable but never spectacular.
This light hearted operetta was an enjoyable piece to watch and the orchestra, especially the woodwind and strings, did incredibly well with such a difficult score. The production was well executed and although the choice of piece was maybe less accessible to a first time opera goer, it was a pleasant evening that I would recommend any musical theatre or operetta enthusiast to go and see.