The resurgent New York City Opera relights January 6 with a production of Leonard Bernstein’s musical Candide, which is scheduled to give 10 performances through January 15 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater in New York City.
“I anticipate this production of Candide with great enthusiasm,” said Tony winner Harold Prince, who will direct. “We’ve made some changes and right now this material is as relevant as it could ever be. I expect the audience will connect with its message.”
As previously announced, the production will mark a notable New York City Opera debut with the role of the Old Lady. It will be played by Linda Lavin, the Tony Award-winning actor best known for playing the title role in the television series Alice.
Charles Prince will conduct the New York City Opera Orchestra, and Tony nominee Patricia Birch will choreograph.
The cast of Bernstein’s comic operetta also includes Tony Award nominee Gregg Edelman (City of Angels, Passion, Into the Woods) as Voltaire, Pangloss, Governor, Businessman, Police Chief, 2nd Gambler, and Wisest Man; Jay Armstrong Johnson (Sweeney Todd, On the Town; The Most Happy Fella) as Candide; Meghan Picerno (Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte, Hansel and Gretel) as Cunegonde; Keith Phares (The Barber of Seville, Les pêcheurs de perles, Mourning Becomes Electra, The Little Prince) as Maximilian; and Jessica Tyler Wright (War Horse, Sweeney Todd, Allegro, Candide) as Paquette.
Guest-starring as the various characters encountered by Candide are Chip Zien (Into the Woods) as Max’s Servant Hugo, Radu, Judge, Father Bernard, Rich Jew, and First Gambler; and Brooks Ashmanskas (Shuffle Along) as Pasha-Prefect, Baron, Grand Inquisitor, and Slave Driver.
The creative team also includes scenic designer Clarke Dunham, costume designer Judith Dolan, lighting designer Ken Billington, and sound designer Abe Jacob.
Founded in 1943 as a populist alternative to the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera operated continuously through 2013, when it declared bankruptcy. In 2016 a not-for-profit group, NYCO Renaissance, reorganized the company‘s debts, brought the company out of bankruptcy, and resumed performances on a limited basis with smaller casts and lower budgets. It's first post-bankruptcy production was Tosca in January 2016.
Candide was a financial failure in its original 1956 production, but Prince restaged it on Broadway in 1974 with a revised libretto and some new lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It ran 740 performances. It is the latter version that will be staged by NYCO.
(Updated January 6, 2017)