The wonderful presence of Des Manahan in the fifties opera Candide by Leonard Bernstein was an outstanding aspect of this fine Cork Operatic Society production at the again refurbished Cork Opera House. He brings a twinkle of joy to the stage as in a dual role he was splendid as the principal character of Pangloss – a randy philosopher preaching Optimism – the subtitle of Voltaire’s original satire Candide.
In Act One, Pangloss is frisky in a Harpo Marx wig but a Chico Marx way, with chorus girls and he dies from syphilis. Des returns in Act Two as martin, a street sweeper who is the Pessimist and the opposite of Pangloss and the contrast is excellent with such a glum visage.
John O’Brien conducted and directed this fine production and while the gilt framed picture setting was suitable, it slowed the crazy action down somewhat. And this is a crazy show of broad satire on an historic theme of satire. The music was excellent and the lyrics had fun and class within a fine range of mood.
The study ranged from Germany to Lisbon to Paris to South America to the paradise of Eldorado and back to Venice.
Candide is the bastard son of a Baron and an innocent abroad as he seeks out his love Cunegonde who is having a terrible time of rape, torture, proposals of marriage, one such from a Cardinal.
I loved the madcap mayhem from a hippy era of the fifties style of theatre as Voltaire (Trevor Ryan) narrated with panache the racy story. Nyle Wolfe was a fine Candide and sang well and Mary Hegarty was the business as Gunegonde, with a beautiful operatic voice with coloratura touches.
The ending was a beautiful effect as characters took off their wigs and white make-up and stepped outside the gilt frame to underline not just a morality theme but to underline a topical conundrum of whether this is a time for optimism or pessimism.