Each decade has its uniquely influential title. In the 1920s, it was Show Boat; in the 1930s, On Your Toes; and in the 1940s, Oklahoma!. In the 1950s it was Candide: because of its extraordinary music, its never-before picaresque structure, its cast of every vocal possibility from tenor Robert Rounseville and mezzo Irra Petina through musical-comedy heroine turned coloratura soprano Barbara Cook to non-singer Max Adrian, and its sheer defiance of the elements. If My Fair Lady typified the mid-fifties musical play and Li'l Abner the musical comedy, Candide was the High Maestro Opus, musically a Blitzkrieg that seemed to originate from other climes than Broadway. From its opening on December 1, 1956, Candide created controversy, and, though it is now a repertory item, it does after all come from the most controversial novel ever published, “translated from the German by Doctor Ralph.” So ran Voltaire's byline.
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