Press Release

Lyric and Wit! VocalEssence and Theater Latté Da! Cunedonde and…Candide!


Jennifer Weismann


Local arts powerhouses combine forces to bring Leonard Bernstein’s famed operetta to life in a theatrical concert performance—March 21-24 at the Cowles Center

MINNEAPOLIS — January 3, 2019 — VocalEssence and Theater Latté Da will join voices this March for theatrical concert performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, one of the world’s most popular operettas. Directed by founding artistic director of Theater Latté Da Peter Rothstein, with music direction by VocalEssence founder and artistic director Philip Brunelle, this production adds dramatic flair but keeps the spotlight on Candide’s history-making songs.

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Unforgettable music, light romance, dark villains, and broad comedy made Leonard Bernstein’s Candide an instant classic. In this performance, an all-star cast featuring Phinehas Bynum, Bradley Greenwald, Liv Redpath, Michael Fairbairn, Liz Hawkinson, G. Phillip Shoultz, III, Susan Hofflander, and Rodolfo Nieto will bring the famous operetta alive—almost entirely through its music. The cast will be joined by chamber orchestra, the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers, and the VocalEssence Chamber Chorus.

Candide will have five performances at The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis from March 21 to March 24. Individual tickets are available online, or as part of a VocalEssence 50th Concert Series Subscription. Dates and times are:

Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 7:30-9:30 PM

Friday, March 22, 2019 at 7:30-9:30 PM

Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 2-4 PM

Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 7:30-9:30 PM

Sunday, March 24, 2019 at 2-4 PM

“Sometimes we can’t believe our luck in working within a community with so much amazing talent,” says VocalEssence founder and artistic director, Philip Brunelle. “We’ve long been fans of Peter Rothstein and Theater Latté Da, and Bernstein’s Candide is an ideal opportunity for collaboration—an excellent addition to our celebratory 50th year. It’s such a beloved work, and the tone is so important to get right to properly express its comedy, irony, and optimism. Candide’s journey is told so skillfully through the songs, and what a great cast to bring the songs to life! I can tell already this will be a collaboration audiences will be talking about for years.”

“I’ve admired Philip Brunelle and the exceptional work of VocalEssence for many years and when the opportunity came for this collaboration, we had to pursue it,” says Theater Latté Da artistic director Peter Rothstein. “We are thrilled to partner with this incredible Twin Cities-based organization in their 50th season. Candide will assemble a wonderful group of talented musicians and actors to bring Bernstein’s remarkable score to life.”

VocalEssence, called “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, impacts thousands of students, singers, and composers each year through its initiative programs, contests, and support for innovative art. VocalEssence was founded in 1969 and has debuted more than 300 commissions and 500 world premieres. For more information, visit

Theater Latté Da is an award-winning Twin Cities musical theater company that combines music and story to illuminate the breadth and depth of the human experience. The company seeks to create new connections between story, music, artist, and audience by exploring and expanding the art of musical theater.



The Royal National Theatre Version
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book adapted from Voltaire by Hugh Wheeler
In a New Version by John Caird
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
Additional Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman, and Leonard Bernstein

Directed by Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by Philip Brunelle
Starring Phinehas Bynum, Bradley Greenwald, Liv Redpath, Michael Fairbairn, Liz Hawkinson, G. Phillip Shoultz, III, Susan Hofflander, and Rodolfo Nieto.

Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, 528 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, 55403

March 21-24, 2019

Tickets: $35-45

A tale exploding with star-crossed lovers, melodramatic villains, broad comedy, and a beautiful score, Candide combines the power of opera with the delights of musical theatre. Wrapped in irony, this musical follows the optimistic young Candide in search of “the best of all possible worlds” on an extraordinary journey to reunite with his soulmate. An all-star cast will be joined by chamber orchestra and a chorus of sixty—the perfect way to savor the epic beauty of Bernstein’s remarkable score.