A native of Belgium with roots in France and an accomplished vocal coach, conductor, and pianist, Kristof Van Grysperre has led Angels Vocal Art as artistic director and conductor since 2015. Most recently, Kristof Van Grysperre conducted the company’s production of Candide.
Playwright Lillian Hellman worked alongside American composer Leonard Bernstein to bring Voltaire’s famous novella Candide to life on the stage. Initially, Hellman intended for the adaptation to be a play with only background music, but Bernstein suggested they write the show in the form of a comic operetta. Candide made its debut in 1956 but later underwent several revisions. Today, productions of the show use not Hellman’s original libretto, but content from a commissioned text by Hugh Wheeler.
Told across two acts, Candide follows the story of its eponymous character, a resident of the country Westphalia and nephew to Baron Thunder-ten-Tronck. Though he is in love with the Baron’s daughter, Cunegonde, the Baron will not allow them to be together because Candide is an illegitimate member of the family. After the Baron exiles Candide for becoming engaged to his daughter, the story takes a satirical look at the ideas of happiness and optimism. Among other travails, Candide must endure the Spanish Inquisition, shipwreck, the loss of his fortune, and separation from Cunegonde. Bernstein sets the plot against such classic pieces as “Glitter and Be Gay” and “The Best of All Possible Worlds.”