REVIEW: Candide, The Grange Festival (online)

This 2018 concert production of Bernstein’s operetta is has plenty of personality, with a beautiful score that performed exquisitely by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Based on the 1759 novel by Voltaire, Leonard Bernstein’s operetta is a lively retelling of a story filled with action, adventure and romance that takes place all over the world as Candide falls into one misfortune to another.

For this concert performance which took place in 2018, directed by Christopher Luscombe, Bernstein’s music beautifully soars from song to song interspersed with gloriously funny narration by Richard Suart that makes this a really entertaining watch.

It might be easy to think that because of the lack of set and other elements that the story might not come over quite as well in a concert production as a fully fledged production – but actually it really works in this case. This is down to Luscombe’s subtle ways in which he would add touches of interaction between characters through the songs as well as tiny bits of dialogue that just add a little more detail and finesse as the story unfolds.

Ultimately though this performance was all about the music and with thanks to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conductor Alfonso Casado Trigo and the cast and chorus it really is sumptuously performed. From the gorgeously rich and varied overture to ‘Candide’s Lament’, every note rings out and is played with immense feeling.

The cast themselves also show great depth and understanding for the music – but are still able to make their mark on the characters. Rob Houchen as Candide is wonderfully charming with great control vocally as heard on ‘It Must Be So’, while Katie Hall as his love interest Cunegonde offers a spirited performance particularly vocally during ‘Glitter and be Gay’. Together their chemistry of personality differences works really well yet you can understand why their characters are attracted to each other highlighted in ‘Oh, Happy We’.

Elsewhere, there is lovely support from Richard Suart as the Narrator and Pangloss – offering real depth in personality in both roles and Rosemary Ashe as Old Woman is a real delight – particularly when she performs ‘I Am Easily Assimilated’ in a wonderfully flamboyant way.

From start to finish, this is a really delightful performance. It has plenty of personality, a good sense of humour and of course an absolutely glorious score to enjoy.

By Emma Clarendon

Candide is available to watch here until the 3rd July.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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