The semi-staged performance drew star singers both from Broadway and the operatic world. Two Tony Award winners, Kristin Chenoweth (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown) and Patti LuPone (Evita, Anything Goes), played Cunegonde and the Old Lady. Tenor Paul Groves played the title role; tenor Stanford Olsen was Vanderdendur/Ragotski. Baritone Thomas Allen performed the roles of Dr. Pangloss, the Narrator, and Voltaire. Joseph Flummerfelt led the Westminster Symphonic Choir.
Marin Alsop, music director of the Bournemouth Symphony and a prot_g_ of Bernstein, conducted. Actor-director Lonny Price, who directed the Philharmonic's 2000 production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, directed both the performance and the telecast.
Candide debuted on Broadway in 1956, with book by Hugh Wheeler, based on Voltaire's 1759 novel, and lyrics by poet Richard Wilbur. It is often performed by opera companies and orchestras; the Philharmonic regularly performs the overture without a conductor in tribute to Bernstein, the group's former music director.