Candide: epilogue

I STILL don’t understand why cast and crew were excitedly whispering ‘toy, toy, toy’ and patting me on the back before the opening curtain. The mysteries of the Opera, I guess.

The remnants of Candide on my dressing table Monday morning.

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Thought you guys would get a giggle from seeing the crinkled list I carried in my bra during the show.

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My road map for Act I. Written instructions, front and back!

I had another equally descriptive list for Act II. Thought I was Mrs. Alzheimers for needing these reminders UNTIL I bumped into the experienced and talented Robert Orth (our Voltaire/Pangloss) backstage doing the exact same thing. He told me I was smart. Thanks, Bob!

The shows were wonderfully received and every person involved deserves the highest commendation. Bravi tutti or thanks all y’all. Each of the performances had its own small share of glitches. It’s LIVE theater for goodness’ sake. Hopefully, the soaring music and fun heart of the show will be what patrons remember.

My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. I will forever remember my talented cast mates and the majestic closing strains of Make Our Garden Grow. Pure bliss.

Monday morning finds me tripping the footlights in a local retirement home.

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Our group, the STARS, singing at Plemons Court.

The joys of music are universal and ageless, aren’t they?

Scott wowing the crowd with a beautiful solo.
Scott wow-ing the crowd with a beautiful solo.

I’m grateful for this transition from Candide back to normal life.

If Candide taught me anything, it’s that we gain joy and happiness from our work. Happiness comes from tilling our own soil; from laboring in the garden of our own backyard.

Amarillo Opera's chorus master, George Biffle and chorus member moi, singing Ivory Palaces.
Amarillo Opera’s chorus master, George Biffle and chorus member moi, singing Ivory Palaces at the retirement home.

The vantage point from my garden looks mighty heavenly this morning.

Let’s keep tilling.

Verdant love to all.

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!



Candide: sneak peek

howl (Photo credit: sillydog)

My morning began with this.

The Texan:  Kathy, wake up! Do you hear dogs barking?

Me: Go back to sleep. It’s only my feet.

Sore feet
Sore feet (Photo credit: dreadpiratejeff)

Seriously, the dogs are HOWLING. Owwwwww!

I wanted to give you Chickenwingers a first glimpse of some Candide loveliness.

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Brenda, moi and Kelsey trying our ‘basic look’ for the first time.

The costumes for this show are numerous and they are each stunning. The show will be extremely visually interesting.

The fancy outfits brought new enthusiasm and purpose to the cast.

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Gorgeous and talented members of the Candide ensemble.

The costumers of our Candide have worked literally countless hours assembling our ‘looks’. They are gracious, patient and extremely talented. I tip my pink satin pillbox hat to you ladies. We salute you!!

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Renee and Hugh.

The members of the ensemble have worked extremely hard. We have lots more to accomplish this week.

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David and Jessica.

The men of the ensemble help drive the plot and they appear in many of the scenes. Some of them have impossibly quick costume changes. I helped fasten many-a-button last evening.

We are getting closer, but there are still miles to go. Please think kind thoughts for my feet.

Hammer-toe love to all.

PS-Still need tickets? Go to Amarillo Opera or

Candide: countdown

Image from by digitalart.

Candide feels like a pile of colorful jigsaw puzzle pieces tumbling in my brain right now. Everything I need is there. Now it’s time to put the irregular shapes in order and create a stunning picture. Can I apply puzzle glue and keep the picture forever?

The sidebar on this blog reads 5 days to go. Wish it said 10.

Here is the article about Candide written by Chip Chandler in the Amarillo Globe News.

These folks inhabiting the main roles in Candide are stupendously talented. They’re nice, too. I’ve adored watching them practice their craft in rehearsals. There are lots of opportunities to learn something new, if one is willing.

Tonight…rehearsal…in costume….onstage at the Globe News Center.

Why, oh why did I over-indulge in all the Easter goodies?


Hope my skirt has a stretchy waistband.

I’ll be posting the excitement and anticipation this week. Stay tuned.

Spring-diet love to all.

Candide: mayhem

I’m not saying AMARILLO OPERA’S  Candide rehearsals are mayhem. Quite the contrary, they are highly structured affairs run with military discipline and precision. I’m saying the show itself is brimming with mayhem. It’s As Westphalia Turns………

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Poor unfortunate Baron and Baroness.

Much rehearsal time was consumed last evening with battle scenes and copious amounts of stage-death. Loved it!

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The Baron has his own unique dying style. Tongue out.

Croaking onstage looks to be about the most fun and dramatic thing ev-uh! A few of the females expire, but it’s mostly the men doing the serious dying.

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The magnificently handsome Maximilian looks hot and content even in death. Is he starring in the next Crest White Strips commercial?
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Our gravely ill love-interest, Cunegonde (coo-nuh-GAHN-duh) using one mighty lucky dead chorister as her support pillow while she longs for Candide.

Don’t misunderstand my talk of dying. It’s funny. In some instances, outrageously hilarious. I chuckled and chortled, because I appreciate dark humor.

There’s definitely an art to dying onstage. Many of the guys were wishing for knee pads and complaining of sore hips. They were really grumbling after they’d fallen to the floor for the 5th or 6th time. Some of the men are as old as me. Imagine that!

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Our esteemed conductor surveying the carnage, while Voltaire blithely steps over corpses.

The themes in Candide are as applicable today as they were in 1760. Where can happiness be found?

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Pangloss explaining to Candide ‘love hurts, but everything is for the best’. Candide doesn’t look like he’s buying it. Neither do the onlookers.

Don’t think I’m giving away too much when I say Voltaire and Bernstein agree happiness is found in your own backyard.

We’ll move the rehearsals to our performing arts center on Sunday. That’ll give us a little more room to dramatically expire. Good.

We are blessed with abundant talent in the show in every area….actors, singers, directors, conductors, musicians and all those who make things work behind the scenes. Hopefully, I can tell you about some of them in future posts.

Did I mention I’m having a blast? Like a geeky kid at theater camp. A belly laugh is a tonic that keeps me healthy. I should be in excellent shape when Candide is over.

Now, go and enjoy the happiness in your own yard!

Tonic-love to all.

Candide: costumes

Repetition, repetition, re-PE-ti-tion.

The characteristics of the music implant in the brain first. Next, the words of each song tumble and sift through the gray matter until they fall into proper alignment. I’m spending about an hour each day working on memorization. Some of it seems easy, but I’m kinda stuck on a song entitled ‘Bon Voyage’. Melody, harmony, entrances and releases are not a problem, but the chorus has so many ways of telling this character ‘farewell’, the old brain resembles a jumbled scrabble board. I’m certain my mind works on these issues in my sleep (or lack thereof). Let me assure you, these are some interesting and audacious lyrics to have worm holing your brain.

This has been a week off regular rehearsals for Spring Break. We resume next week full-bore! Received the revised rehearsal schedule leading up to opening night and let’s just say I’m popping Centrum Silver like crazy and stocking groceries for the Texan. Plastered my head-shot all over the house so the Texan and Roxy-Doxy won’t forget I live with them. That’s O.K., because the Texan has lots of Duck Dynasty recorded and March Madness will keep him very well occupied.

Patricia McGourty with the Inquisitor costume.

Went in for my costume fitting. Met the beautiful and incredibly interesting Costume Designer, Patricia McGourty. She is designing the total look of Candide for Amarillo Opera. For a Broadway show or Opera opening, Patricia designs and sketches the costumes for each scene. The costumes would then be constructed or ‘built’ according to her specifications and vision. For our Candide, Patricia has pulled costumes from different companies around the country to use in our production. One of the wonderful perks of being involved in Candide is getting to meet creative people like Patricia. It’s a rush, I tell you!

Amarillo Opera could film one helluva Harlem Shake right now.

For you costume-lovers out there, check out the sumptuousness.

A chocolate truffle for the eyes.
Delicious pink champagne. Cheers!
Red velvet cake. Can’t wait to see the handsome devil who wears this costume.

Patricia was very kind in helping fit moi into a costume. Seems the chorus will have a ‘basic’ costume and we will be adding to or subtracting from depending upon our appearances in different scenes. I wanted to snap a photo, but Patricia wouldn’t allow it because the gorgeous gold-corseted bodice needed a little tweaking. No one can see it until it is perfect.

I SWEAR to you, Patricia had not read THIS BLOG POST when she chose this lovely top for me. She was blissfully ignorant as to my previous penchant for plunging necklines.

May I just say I ADORE my costume bodice? Sorry in advance if I embarrass the Sprouts.

Delightfully zaftig. Pure 18th century curvaceousness. Love.

Worth the price of admission.

Centrum Silver love to all.

backstage Candide: progress

Week #2 working in the chorus of CANDIDE. Been taking antibiotics and steroids all week to knock out the remnants of a lingering upper respiratory problem. Some days I sound like I should be banished to a TB colony on a remote island. Other days, it feels like a champagne cork has permanently lodged in my right ear canal. Other than that, I feel fine.

Tuesday night we received our official score.

Spending every spare moment with this book.
Spending every spare moment with this book.

I skipped into our house after Opera practice and proudly displayed my big book of music to the TV-watching Texan.

The brilliance of Berstein.
The brilliance of Berstein.

Look Texan…..I got a score tonight!

Who won?

No, no silly….the musical score….for CANDIDE!

What grade did you make?

If it doesn’t involve a round ball and a scoreboard, the Texan ain’t interested.

The chorus had a very productive rehearsal last evening.

Our esteemed chorus master.
Our esteemed Chorus Master.

Dr. George leads the chorus rehearsals and he keeps us on our toes. He has a LOOK.  When you see the LOOK, you’re highly motivated to sing your part correctly. After one of my particularly noisy TB coughing spasms, Dr. George chastised, ‘If you’ve got a cold, don’t come to rehearsals and spread it around!’

Oops. Didn’t think I was still contagious. Guess that was my invitation to slink out the door. I stayed.  Let’s just say rehearsals next week will find me on the back row with a pocket full of Halls. It’ll be OK. I’ll be a safer distance from the stick.

I’ve been pondering the unlikely mash-up of Voltaire and Bernstein that is CANDIDE. What sort of musician decides to make a musical of Voltaire’s grimly satirical work?

I thought I was utterly alone with my ponder-ations.

Until I spotted the bookworm weiner dog.

The Doxy reading her favorite biography.
The Doxy reading her favorite biography.

She wasn’t going rogue this time. She was studying THIS.


Roxy Doxy:  You DO realize, Voltaire and Jonathan Swift are considered the greatest satirists in all of literature?!

Me: What do you know of Bernstein?

Roxy Doxy:  Bernstein? I was the featured counter-tenor soloist in his Chichester Psalms!

I am no longer alone.

Not-keeping-score love to all.

backstage pass: Candide

” A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher.

Note by note, bar by bar, page by page the expedition has begun. I’m grabbing your hand and pulling you alongside. Join me?


I’ve been up to something. I’m singing in the chorus/ensemble of Amarillo Opera’s Spring production……CANDIDE. Our first rehearsal was last evening. You guessed right! I’m gonna blog this adventure’s every jagged twist and turn. You’re gonna inhale the musky waft of grease paint and hear every backstage squeeze of the corset on our expedition together. My role may be as a potted palm tree stage right, but you will be privy to the inside scoop of how this massive musical undertaking makes it to opening night.

The first read-through of CANDIDE.

We have an abundance of intoxicating topics to discuss:  Leonard Bernstein, Voltaire, satire, history and music. Lots and lots of gorgeous music.

We’ll start at the beginning…..the audition. Be very relieved I don’t have a photo (or recording) to share with you. Don’t think I could post my pale face and breathless, shaky attempts at singing. Knees knocking in utter terror and a voice cracking at the high notes are not the makings of a fun blog photo or a great audition. This is a big chorus show… somehow, I made it. Guess they needed a few Clydesdales of the female vocal range.

Who knew my horsemanship skills could be used in the opera?
Who knew my horsemanship skills could be used in the opera?

This Candide is Bernstein’s musical adaptation of Voltaire’s novel Candide, and yes, I read the novel. The book was in-ter-est-ing. The plot? It’s outrageous, ludicrous, racy….we’ll talk more later.


We’ll be counting down the days until opening night, April 6th. I’ve tried putting a countdown clock on the right sidebar of this blog to help us as the anticipation builds. We’ll see how that works. Sure, I’ll be blogging about other things along the way, but this series will continue until CANDIDE opens. Bloggy pay dirt!

Learning this music makes my spirit soar. I’m grateful to have such a sparkling jewel in my life right now. How lucky am I? I’m taking your ticket. Welcome aboard. Let’s have some fun.

Traveling-mercy love to all.

Disclaimer: I am a Board member of Amarillo Opera. I want you to come to this production. I’m extremely biased. Read this series at the risk of learning to love CANDIDE.