Victorian Opera will take on the brilliantly satirical Candide for its first production of the 2024 season, staging Voltaire’s timeless tale brought to life through the remarkable score of Leonard Bernstein, the famed composer of West Side Story, at the Palais Theatre this February.
Whisking audiences away on an unforgettable adventure through a world turned upside down the production is led by the multi-talented and Tony-nominated composer of Beetlejuice and star of Offspring, Eddie Perfect, who arrives off the back of a sensational performance in Dolly Parton’s 9to5 The Musical.
Sharing the spotlight, Lyndon Watts, the award-winning breakout star of Hamilton, will perform with Victorian Opera for the very first time. Joining this extraordinary duo is an outstanding ensemble cast of Australian music theatre and operatic royalty.
Based on Voltaire’s 1759 novella, the Broadway operetta first premiered in 1956 and with subsequent reimaginings has garnered a cult classic status.
The story follows the naïve young Candide who falls in love with the beautiful Cunegonde (Katherine Allen) and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with their misfit band of friends through a world gone mad, inhabited by an endless array of vicious, greedy, lustful, and manipulative characters.
From the salons of Paris to the jungles of South America, their journey is filled with love, laughter, catastrophe, and unexpected twists and turns.
Directed by Dean Bryant whose innovative vision brings a fresh perspective to the operatic classic, this bold retelling of Candide’s story takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting in the wake of a major climate disaster.
Set and Costume Designer Dann Barber and Lighting Designer Matt Scott, will transform St Kilda’s grand Palais Theatre with an outlandish, decayed baroque set and beautiful lighting, creating The Best of All Possible Worlds in a boundary-pushing production.
Bursting with symphonic magic, Melbourne’s own Maestro Benjamin Northey and the masterful musicians of Orchestra Victoria will bring the thrilling new production to life.
Continuing Victorian Opera’s commitment to re-examining the great classics of music theatre, Candide will kick-off the first program under the new leadership of Artistic Director Stuart Maunder AM. “Candide is a glorious roller coaster of a show that continues to explore challenging themes with dazzling energy,” he said.
“With a world-class ensemble cast, brilliant creative team, magnificent design and Orchestra Victoria on stage, we’ve crafted a production that captures the essence of Voltaire’s wit and satire while celebrating the power of love and resilience. A vaudeville extravaganza!” said Maunder.
“Candide combines a rollercoaster story with an incandescent score into a piece that asks what it means to live a valuable life,” said Director Dean Bryant. “I can’t wait to take this troupe of clowns with glorious voices on the romp that Bernstein composed out of Voltaire’s imagination.”
Candide features Music by Leonard Bernstein, Book by Hugh Wheeler after Voltaire, Lyrics by Richard Wilbur, with additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Leonard Bernstein. Orchestrations by Leonard Bernstein and Hershy Kay; Musical continuity and additional orchestrations by John Mauceri.
Conductor: Benjamin Northey | Director: Dean Bryant | Featuring: Eddie Perfect, Lyndon Watts, Katherine Allen, Maria Mercedes, Euan Fistrovic Doidge, Melanie Bird, Eddie Muliaumaseali’i, Alexander Lewis, Troy Sussman, Kate Amos, Jonathon Bam, Paul Batey, Kirilie Blythman, Alastair Cooper-Golec, Irving Dekterev, Eamon Dooley, Shakira Dugan, Olivia Federow-Yemm, Jerzy Kozlowski, Belinda Paterson, Rebecca Rashleigh, Tim Reynolds, Syrah Torii, Nicole Wallace, Raphael Wong, Orchestra Victoria | Set & Costume Designer: Dann Barber | Lighting Designer: Matt Scott | Sound Designer: Samuel Moxham | Choreographer: Freya List | Assistant Conductor: Phoebe Briggs | Associate Designer: Savanna Wegman
Palais Theatre, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda
Season: 8 – 10 February 2024
Information and Bookings: www.victorianopera.com.au
Image: Katherine Allen, Eddie Perfect and Lyndon Watts to star in Candide – courtesy of Victorian Opera