Philly hometown hero Bradley Cooper will perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra while paying homage to one of the great American composers.
Everything you need to know about Bradley Cooper’s appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra
Cooper and “The Great Gatsby” star Carey Mulligan will join the Orchestra for three performances of Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” June 20-22. Expect a modern, yet still retro twist on the performance narrated by the Academy Award-nominated actors. Stage Director Kevin Newbury brings the story to life by setting the comedic opera in a nostalgic 90s high-school classroom. Think of iconic characters in classic coming-of-age stories like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and campy antics in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. The “Candide” cast will also resemble a lineup of unlikely detention buddies from “The Breakfast Club”: the nerd, the popular cheerleader, the goth kid and one starry eyed drama club president.
Research on classical music and Leonard Bernstein connected Cooper with Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Cooper was spotted while attending a performance led by Nézet-Séguin, who also serves as the Music Director for the Metropolitan Opera. After the success of “A Star is Born”, Cooper is working on a biopic about Bernstein’s life. Cooper will both direct the film and play the role of the legendary “West Side Story” composer.
Like Cooper, Bernstein also had ties to Philly. He studied conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music. Bernstein’s “Candide” operetta is an adaptation of Voltaire’s satire originally published in 1759. The opera combines a beautiful score with a more comedic take on an operatic tragedy. This run of “Candide” concludes the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Leonard Bernstein Centennial Celebration.
The story, set in Westphalia, follows the unlikely love story between the illegitimate nephew of a baron and the baron’s beautiful daughter. Tenor Alek Shrader plays the part of Candide (aka the nerd) during his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra, with soprano Erin Morley co-starring as love interest Cunegonde. After becoming engaged, the baron exiles Candide. Philosopher Dr. Pangloss (Kevin Vortmann) teaches the lost lovers about pursuing love and adventure through the power of optimism. The three find themselves entangled in a series of mishaps featuring swindlers, saviors and disaster. Philadelphia Orchestra’s twist on this story makes it a little bit more relatable for an audience as high school antics are told through opera, and narrated by Cooper and Mulligan. The modern setting and interpretation of Voltaire’s works open up the performance for political and social commentary, including topics like sexuality and race.
Berinstein’s work spanned Broadway and the symphony, which serves as an inspiration for conductor Nézet-Séguin. During an interview with classical radio station WRTI 90.1 FM last fall, Nézet-Séguin called Bernstein an “all-around genius” and a true musician for his ability to bring “so-called popular and serious music” together in harmony. Bernstein’s legacy is upheld by his estate run by his children, which granted exclusive musical rights to the production companies involved in Cooper’s upcoming biopic.
Cooper is known for celebrating his Philly roots, and is often spotted in Eagles gear. His love for Philly came to life on the big screen while portraying Eagles superfan Patrizio “Pat” Solitano, Jr. in “Silver Linings Playbook”. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Actor. Mulligan is rumored to co-star alongside Cooper in his upcoming film about Bernstein.
“Candide” will be performed in the Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center June 20-22, located at 300 S Broad St. For more information, showtimes and tickets visit philorch.org.