This is an enjoyable CD, presenting an operetta that was first performed in the early jazz age, and combines Hungarian folk tunes, Viennese waltzes, popular American dance rhythms, and exotic moments suggesting distant India — bayaderes are Indian temple dancers — as well as snatches of various national anthems.
The main story is of an Indian Prince, who loves Odette the soprano. She teases with him until, three months and 90 performances later, the theatre director puts them together.
The parallel story is of Marietta, the wife of a rich but fat chocolate manufacturer, who is drawn to her long-standing admirer Napoleon and finally yields to his advances. Marietta divorces the corpulent chocolatier and marries Napoleon but he then gets fat and her ex slims down, so she swaps back.
It’s all appealing, and the waltzes give the piece a bouncy, busy feel. It’s never too heavy, though the jazzier sounds have been perhaps toned down by Richard Bonynge, who produced it, and the sounds of fun-living flappers only peek through the orchestra.
Out on CPO, 777 982-2.