Candide

Wed 4th – Sat 7th March 2015

reviews

Elizabeth Crowdy

at 01:46 on 5th Mar 2015

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The Cambridge University Opera Society & BATS production of Candide at Queens’ College was a memorable one. The enthusiasm with which the singers and orchestra delivered the Bernstein score was infectious, the characters relatable and the orchestra well-rehearsed.

The singing was of exceptional quality in this production, with Rosalind Dobson standing out as Cunegonde. Her soprano lifted the whole production with a beautiful tone and clear delivery. Louise Ayrton was also excellent as the Old Woman, with her acting skills equalling her singing, and giving her the loudest laughs of the show.

The staging was well thought out, with the gallery and stairs of the Fitzpatrick Hall being used in almost equal measure to the stage, making the audience feel included in the action, and filling the hall with sound from every direction. The chorus was strong enough for the separation of sopranos/altos/tenors/basses to not be an issue, enabling this dynamic staging.

The only major problem was the plot. I had a vague outline of the plot of Candide before I entered the Fitzpatrick Hall, but this did not help. There seemed to be many scenes cut, and the storyline was difficult to follow throughout, despite strong characterisation. I left with not much more of an idea of who Candide is as to when I entered. However, this did not seem to matter, as the sheer joy of the singing kept the performance moving on its surreal journey through Bernstein’s glorious music. I found myself laughing at the parts I didn’t understand because they added to the atmosphere.

There were a few minor faults: a good deal of corpsing was visible, often caused by some very vocal audience members who had friends on-stage. Some of the dance routines were not as slick as they could be, and instances of poor diction sometimes failed to convey the message of the songs properly. However, this did not affect the performance as a whole, which was light-hearted, entertaining and musically joyous. A fabulous musical feast perfect for the end of term.

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