Voltaire's classic satire on empty headed optimism "Candide" was long the province of advanced French classes. Leonard Bernstein brought it to Broadway and to opera houses. The IU Opera Theatre production ably supports Bernstein's adventurous score with a musically solid, dramatically varied production that was warmly received at Friday night's performance.
Frankly, the number one quality of most opera singers is not a flair for comedy, but along with some strenuous musical demands that's what "Candide" requires. Stage director Vincent Liotta has come up with an accomplished show that fully realized the fun of the piece.
Michael Deleget alternated as a suave Voltaire and a silly optimist philosopher who also appears in a variety of other guises. Dave Allen Ray was our eternal optimist Candide. Ray sounded fine, but his voice must be a bit slight for the part. His was the only voice where the hall's amplification system was almost always apparent. Heather Krygowski was an appropriately perky Paquette. April Golliver was a comic and sympathetic figure as the "easily assimilatable" old lady of the single buttock. Shallen Atkin, played a rather matronly Cunegonde, but was a vocal standout especially with that untimate soprano tour de farce, "Glitter and Be Gay."
One of the amazing features of the IU Opera Theatre production was the sheer depth of the cast. "Candide" is a series of scenes and brief satiric stories. In every scene there were new and delightful singers to enjoy and a variety of dramatic approaches to the presentation.
Michael Barrett, a long time Bernstein assistant, skillfully balanced the wildly varied music and the vocals with good energy and drive throughout.