Candide: a love letter

Dear Maestro Bernstein,

I’ve been thinking fondly of you lately. You see, I’m involved in a small way with Amarillo Opera’s production of Candide. Saying I’m involved implies I’m someone who recognizes the difference between a cantata and a frittata. I know zilch about Opera, and yet I’m certain our community (and I!) would be poorer without our local opera company. Because of them, I have joyfully grappled with your Candide.

English: Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My first introduction to you was in the early 1960’s. I was just a red-headed, freckled-faced tabula rasa when one evening my parents tuned into your Young People’s Concert televised on CBS. I vividly recall you describing the instruments in the story of Peter and the Wolf. The music transported this rather forlorn little girl to a delightfully wonderful and vivid landscape. I instantly understood your language.

In  1999, I traveled to Carnegie Hall in New York City with my daughter and we participated with a choral group singing your Chichester Psalms.

English: A post-concert photo of the main hall...
A post-concert photo of the main hall’s stage inside of Carnegie Hall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Didn’t know if I would ever learn that quirky piece of music! We took the tour of the Hall and even visited your dressing room backstage. Your music, once again, provided a forever-cherished experience in the grand setting of Carnegie Hall. Your presence was palpable.

Now, as a mid-lifer…..OK I admit, a late mid-lifer..I’m squarely facing Candide’s opening night tomorrow.


You would be proud of our efforts. The set is gorgeous. Costumes? Out of this world! The main characters? They are spot-on. Our symphony orchestra sounds heavenly. The local choral ensemble has worked tirelessly to bring Voltaire’s story to life. I’ve giggled and chortled at the dialogue and the lyrics. But when one removes all of these things, do you know what truly moves me? It’s your music, sir! From the fanciful beginning strains of the overture to the block-buster Garden finale, you weave a splendid tonal tapestry telling the adventures of Candide. The music is lush, witty and melodic and when stripped of all other accoutrements, tells its own unique tale. It’s your music stirring my soul and once again I understand your language.

Our production won’t be perfect. It will be perfectly wonderful. Because of you, the freckled-faced kid gets to come out and play. I’ll be brimming with gratitude as I gaze from stage tomorrow night. Thank you, Lenny!



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