The Philadelphia Orchestra concludes its celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein with a star-studded grand finale: a symphonic staging of his complex, irreverent, and humorous operetta Candide, led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, June 20-22. Academy Award-nominees Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan will narrate the performances.
They join a cast from the worlds of opera and Broadway, including Alek Shrader, Erin Morley, Denyce Graves, Kevin Vortmann, and Timothy McDevitt, reuniting many of the collaborators from the Orchestra’s previous Bernstein projects.
Stage Director Kevin Newbury will set the production of Bernstein’s coming-of-age story in the early 1990s, unfolding in a high-school classroom and inspired by films such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dazed and Confused. The characters will be portrayed as the archetypes of early-1990s high-school life: Candide as the bookish nerd; Cunegonde as the ambitious head cheerleader; Paquette as the introverted goth; and Maximilian as the flamboyant drama club president. The setting will trace how these characters change from naïve teenagers to expectant graduates.
First performed in 1956, Candide has come into its own in recent decades, thanks to Bernstein’s endless musical inventiveness and collaborators from Stephen Sondheim to Dorothy Parker—and Voltaire, who wrote the original story, published in 1759. Nézet-Séguin’s great love for Bernstein’s music has shone throughout the centennial celebration, and in previous Philadelphia Orchestra seasons, beginning with the Orchestra’s production of MASS in 2015 and continuing through West Side Story and a cycle of his complete symphonies. Candide brings The Philadelphia Orchestra’s celebration of a remarkable musician’s life to a joyous conclusion.
Seven-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper (Narrator) recently made his directorial debut with the Oscar-nominated film A Star Is Born, which he co-wrote, produced, and starred in. Additional film credits include Clint Eastwood’s The Mule; the Oscar-nominated films American Sniper, American Hustle, andSilver Linings Playbook; Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines; The Hangover Trilogy by Todd Phillips; Limitless; Avengers: Endgame; Avengers: Infinity War; Guardians of the Galaxy (volumes 1 and 2); War Dogs; David O’Russell’s Joy; Wedding Crashers; and Wet Hot American Summer.
In 2015, Cooper garnered critical acclaim and a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of John Merrick in the five-time Tony-nominated revival of The Elephant Man on Broadway, directed by Scott Ellis. He also performed this role during a limited run of the play in London in 2015 and originally at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2012 (also directed by Ellis). Other theater credits include Joe Mantello’s production ofThree Days of Rain (2006, Broadway debut) and the critically acclaimed Theresa Rebeck play The Understudy (2008, Williamstown Theatre Festival). In 2012, he entered into a first-look deal with Warner Bros. and producing partner Todd Phillips to form Joint Effort, which has produced the films War Dogs,Joy, A Star Is Born, and the upcoming Joker by Todd Phillips.
Born in Philadelphia, Cooper graduated with honors in the English program from Georgetown University. After moving to New York City, he obtained his Masters in the Fine Arts program at the Actors Studio Drama School. In 2015, he started the One Family Foundation to help make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer. Through launching patient navigator programs, working to shift perceptions, and exploring innovations in the field, the Foundation is aiming to improve patients’ experiences with cancer throughout their treatment. Cooper has been a longtime partner to Stand Up to Cancer and numerous veteran’s organizations throughout his career.