A satirical novella by Voltaire meets a dazzling score by Leonard Bernstein in this 1956 operetta. The naïvely optimistic Candide sets out to explore the world, beset by an endless series of disasters, including war, an earthquake, and a shipwreck.

By turns funny, philosophical, and deeply moving, Candide mixes human foibles, supernatural catastrophes, and earthly adversity into a thoroughly entertaining whole. Come hear Bernstein’s legendary score, full of witty lyrics, romantic longing, and the greatest finale in all opera.

Friday, April 26, 2024 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 28, 2024 at 2:30 pm
Overture Hall
Sung in English with projected text

approx. run time: 2 hours 30 minutes, including one intermission

Single tickets will be available for purchase in September


Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book by Hugh Wheeler, after Voltaire
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, and Leonard Bernstein

Premiered 1 December 1956
Martin Beck Theatre, New York

Previously at MO: 1993

Candide is in love with Cunegonde, the daughter of the noble house in Westphalia where he is brought up. Dr. Pangloss, their tutor, teaches them that everything in this world is for the best, and part of God’s universal plan.

Candide is then subjected to a series of disasters that test this theory.  He is expelled from Cunegonde’s home, war breaks out between Westphalia and its neighbor, and Cunegonde is seemingly killed. Candide takes comfort in the Panglossian doctrine and sets out on a journey. 

He encounters Dr. Pangloss, now struck by syphilis; the two men are captured by the Holy Inquisition, and sentenced to be hanged. An earthquake occurs, killing Dr. Pangloss, but Candide escapes. 

Cunegonde turns up alive in Paris and reunites with Candide. He kills her new lovers, and the pair flee to South America, accompanied by the Old Lady.  After adventures among war-like Jesuits and the wise inhabitants of the lost world of El Dorado, Candide returns to Venice, where he finds Cunegonde working in a casino.

Finally disillusioned, Candide realizes that the world is neither good nor bad, but what we make of it.

-courtesy Scottish Opera 


2324 Headshot Martin Luther Clark
Martin Luther Clark

Madison Opera Debut: Opera in the Park 2023
Recently: CJ, The Factotum; First Armed Man, Die Zauberflöte (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Rapunzel’s Prince, Into the Woods (Tulsa Opera)

2324 Headshot Jeni Houser
Jeni Houser

Madison Opera Debut: Ensemble, Acis and Galatea (2013)
Recently at MO: Lucia, Lucia di Lammermoor; Opera in the Park 2019; Anne, A Little Night Music; Olympia, The Tales of Hoffmann; Amy, Little Women; Johanna, Sweeney Todd
The Queen of the Night, The Magic Flute (Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Central City Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Dallas Opera); Franzi, Die Weiden (Vienna State Opera); Lucia, Lucia di Lammermoor (Seoul Arts Center); Zerbinetta, Ariadne auf Naxos (Austin Opera, Minnesota Opera); La Charmeuse, Thais; Susanna, The Marriage of Figaro (Minnesota Opera)

2324 Headshot Meredith Arwady
Meredith Arwady
The Old Lady

Madison Opera Debut: Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd (2015)
Recently at MO: Opera in the Park 2015

Recently: Kathy Hagen, Champion (Metropolitan Opera); First Maid, Elektra (Washington National Opera); Martha, Sky on Swings (Opera Saratoga); Ruth, The Pirates of Penzance (Utah Opera)

2324 Headshot Alan Dunbar
Alan Dunbar
Pangloss / Martin

Madison Opera Debut: Alidoro, Cinderella (2012)
Recently at MO: 1st Nazarene, Salome; Sipos, She Loves Me; Joseph McCarthy/Interrogator/Frank, Fellow Travelers; Papageno, The Magic Flute; Schaunard, La Bohème; Dr. Bartolo, The Barber of Seville; Owen Hart, Dead Man Walking

Recently: Uberto, La Serva Padrona; Jesus, St. Matthew Passion (Bach Roots Festival); Soloist, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio; Soloist, Bach’s B Minor Mass (Bach Society of Minnesota); Die schöne Müllerin (Winona, MN)

2324 Headshot Robert A Goderich
Robert A. Goderich
Governor / Vanderdendur

Madison Opera Debut: Amelia’s Servant, A Masked Ball (2012)
Recently at MO: Father, The Seven Deadly Sins; 1st Jew, Salome; John Styx, Orpheus in the Underworld; Headwaiter, She Loves Me; Beppe, Pagliacci; 1st Priest / Armored Man, The Magic Flute; Spalanzani, The Tales of Hoffmann; Pirelli, Sweeney Todd

Recently: Beadle Bamford, Sweeney Todd (Middleton Players Theatre); Pirelli, Sweeney Todd (Skylight Theater, cover San Francisco Opera); Albin, La Cage aux Folles (Music Theater of Madison)

2324 Headshot Luis Orozco
Luis Orozco

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (Gulfshore Opera); Mano, Stuck Elevator (Nashville Opera); Flemish Deputy, Don Carlos; First Minister, Cendrillon (Metropolitan Opera); Marcello, La Bohème (Nashville Opera, Virginia Opera); Count Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro (Intermountain Opera Bozeman)

2324 Headshot John DeMain
John DeMain

Madison Opera Debut: The Magic Flute (1995)
Recently at MO: Trouble in TahitiThe Seven Deadly SinsSalome, Opera in the Park 2022, Orpheus in the Underworld, She Loves MeFellow Travelers, La Traviata
Blue (Glimmerglass Festival); Candide (Gran Teatre de Liceu); Porgy and Bess (Seattle Opera); Lost in the Stars (Washington National Opera)

2324 Headshot Brian Cowing
Brian Cowing
Stage Director

Madison Opera Debut: Choreographer, She Loves Me (2022)
Director, A Christmas Carol, Stellaluna (Children’s Theater of Madison); All is Calm (Four Seasons Theatre); Choreographer, Love’s Labour’s Lost (American Players Theater); Heathers (University Theater, UW-Madison); Actor, Something Rotten, Annie (National Tour)


Kay & Martin Barrett

Bert & Diane Adams

Carla & Fernando Alvarado

Kennedy Gilchrist & Heidi Wilde

Fran Klos

Patricia & Stephen Lucas

Thomas Terry

The Wallach Family

David Flanders & Susan Ecroyd

The Ann Stanke Fund