Click here for a synopsis in Spanish.
Candide, a youth of obscure origins, lives with the Baron and Baroness of Westphalia and their two children, Maximilian and Cunegonde. When Candide—inspired by the coupling of his tutor, Pangloss, and Paquette, a servant girl—proposes to marry Cunegonde, he is kicked out of the castle and recruited to the Bavarian Army. After taking part in a bloody battle between Bavaria and Westphalia, he travels to Holland, where he is reunited with Pangloss, who informs him that the Baron, Baroness and Cunegonde have been killed. In reality, Cunegonde has survived and is being shared by two lovers: Don Issachar and the Grand Inquisitor.
Pangloss and Candide travel to Lisbon, arriving just as a terrible earthquake strikes the city. As they philosophize about the event, they are overheard and arrested for blasphemy. Pangloss is sentenced to death, Candide to flogging. An old woman takes Candide away and orchestrates a reunion between him and Cunegonde. When Don Issachar surprises the lovers, Candide kills him; the Grand Inquisitor soon suffers the same fate. Candide, Cunegonde and the Old Woman flee to Spain, where they meet Cacambo, who suggests they travel together to the New World.
In Montevideo, the Governor takes an interest in Cunegonde. With Cacambo, Candide goes to Paraguay and is reunited with Maximilian, who has joined a Jesuit order. When Maximilian objects to Candide’s proposed marriage to Cunegonde, Candide kills him.
Candide and Cacambo flee and find themselves in El Dorado, where they lack for nothing—except Cunegonde. Determined to find her, they set off again. Cacambo sails for Montevideo to retrieve Cunegonde; the two friends plan to meet in Venice. Vanderdendur, a slave trader, agrees to take Candide to Venice, but robs him instead. Candide chooses a new traveling companion: Martin. On a Tunisian galley, Candide and Martin meet Pangloss and Maximilian—alive but enslaved—and buy their freedom. In Venice, they are reunited with Paquette, then Cacambo. At a masquerade ball, the Old Woman and Cunegonde approach Candide, looking for money. When Cunegonde’s mask comes off, Candide is startled by what she has become. He closes his Venetian palazzo and, taking the others with him, moves to the mountains, where all put away their old lives and find useful work.
Synopsis courtesy of The Glimmerglass Opera.