Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mercoledi Musicale

When he posted that old Pete Seeger number "Inch by Inch, Row by Row" last Friday Sling got me to thinking - a dangerous thing at the best of times. I realized how often the analogy of a garden appears in world literature and cultures. It's often equated to Paradise - sometimes a perfumed bower of roses, other times a place filled with plentiousness or sometimes just a simple plot of land. But a garden and gardening has grown to represent what is harmonious and good in life.

In his satiric novella Candide, Voltaire ends his hero's optimistic foray into the world with the recognition that the sole philosophy he and his friends can live by is to build shelter, bring warmth to the home, put daily bread on the table and cultivate the land.

When Lillian Hellman, John LaTouche and Leonard Bernstein transferred Voltaire's tale to the Broadway stage their Candide was a box office flop but the music was always highly regarded. Seventeen years later it was to become a success with a rewritten book and a revised score and has since been produced both as an operetta and a musical more than any other Bernstein piece with the possible exception of West Side Story.

Bernstein's operetta ends with Candide, his foolish love Cunegunde and their friends deciding that, like their counter parts in Voltaire's novella, they must simply "Make Our Garden Grow."

I'm afraid the one really good version that's up on YouTube has dreadful sound but here is a reasonable performance by the late Jerry Hadley (who sadly took his life last year) and Renée Flemming (before she became Rennaaay)from a Lincoln Centre performance. Things go a bit astray at the end but it still has an impact.

We’re neither pure nor wise nor good
We’ll do the best we know.
We’ll build our house and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow.

09 luglio - Santa Veronica


evilganome said...

I have always loved that song. It is one of those moments like the final reconciliation scene in Nozze between the Count and the Countessa that always brings a tear to my eye.

It didn't hurt that Samuel Ramey, one of my first big opera crushes was among the singers.

Elizabeth said...

And what wonderful lyrics! Thanks for sharing this.