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The Bayadere
James Stuart
The Bayadere
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #2


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CD Details

All Artists: James Stuart
Title: The Bayadere
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Newport Classic
Release Date: 2/23/1999
Genre: Classical
Style: Opera & Classical Vocal
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 032466565526

CD Reviews

Ayn Rand's favorite operetta!
William Bucko | Mt. Clemens, MI United States | 01/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"At last, after more than 70 years, this masterpiece of Kalman's has finally received its world premiere recording. Those who love Kalman's other great operettas, "Countess Maritza" and "The Czardess Princess," will not be disappointed. Here is another beautiful work, with orchestrations as lush as Rachmaninoff's and breathtaking melodies, performed with style and verve. This was the favorite operetta of world-famous writer Ayn Rand, who as a teenager in Soviet Russia relied on European operetta to buoy her spirits until she could escape to the West. Although "Bayadere's" plot and dialog are somewhat weak even by operetta standards, the haunting, exotic music is not to be missed. The love duets "Yours Will I Be Evermore" and "Roses from the Ganges" rival any aria by Puccini. I would have preferred hearing this work in the original German, but the songs have been skillfully and sensitively rendered into English. The booklet that comes with the 2 CD set shows scenes from the production, which the talented singers perform with enthusiasm."
jayeldee | WI USA | 12/27/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)

"After having enjoyed recordings of Kalman's "The Gipsy Princess," "Countess Mariza," and "The Duchess of Chicago" for many years, this world-premiere, English language presentation of "The Bayadere" came as a severe disappointment to me--in performance, in quality of recorded sound and, ultimately, in the overall musical value of the work itself. Despite--or perhaps, partly because of--their strenuous application, none of the soloists is quite up to snuff for the sometimes demanding vocal passages. John Pickle exhibits a colorless voice infused with an excessive vibrato that soon becomes insufferable, while the opposing lead, Julie Wright, sounds generally thin and hard-edged. In a secondary role, Susan Miller sounds equally thin and is strident (and very ill-recorded) into the bargain. The miniature chorus is often barely audible, and adds little to the production.

In the spoken dialogue--which consumes more than one-quarter of the total performance time--practically every one of the cast either overacts or simply acts amateurishly--while delivering lines that are for the most part eminently forgettable (apart, that is, from a brief, interesting exchange between the two principals, at Track 8).

Aggravating the substandard performances are the poor acoustics and recorded sound quality, wherein the vocalists are restricted to a soundstage that feels not much bigger than the roof of a one-car garage, with the pint-sized orchestra and chorus seemingly imprisoned below. (Make that a flat roof, of course.... A pity, upon reflection: one of sufficient pitch might've spared us this recording.)

Yet, the performance and sound quality aside, most disheartening of all is that the work itself is a far, far cry from Kalman's best (as exemplified by the three operettas mentioned at the outset). Here, only a handful of pieces--say, four or five--come anywhere close to exhibiting Kalman's wondrous melodic sense and rhythmic invention; there's absolutely no trace of the fiery exuberance of "The Gipsy Princess," too little of the grand romantic sweep of "Countess Mariza," and only a rare hint of the bouncy vitality found aplenty in "The Duchess of Chicago." Relative to those three masterpieces, "The Bayadere" sounds, to me, altogether limp and uninspired.

Therefore, anyone coming to Kalman for the first ( ... or second--or third) time should steer clear of this recording in particular--and, probably, of this work in general, wherever else it might eventually be found. Any of the other three operettas are vastly superior, and decent recordings of each are not too hard to come by. Of special note is a generous selection of excerpts from "The Gipsy Princess" and "Countess Mariza," directed by Frank Fox--all gloriously performed and recorded (in 1962--!), and released on the Dutch label, Kaiserliche Operette (Emperor Operetta), in 1995. Meanwhile, "The Duchess of Chicago" is still available (at the time of this review) on a Decca release, in a complete and generally first-rate performance directed by Richard Bonynge.... Get those while they're hot, and leave this one in cold storage."
Kalman's neglected masterpiece
Mart Sander | | 05/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I have just come from a performance of Die Bajadere, and it completely swept me off my feet. Well, the production values were great and the singers excellent, but I am sure that wasn't all there is to it - the music itself is extremely good and tuneful. I can't belive there are no other recordings of this operetta... absolutely amazing. This piece deserves much more. Plus, I have to admit I enjoyed the plot - there are much inferior librettos out there. I intend to buy this recording, even though the excerpts sound a bit suspicious... but it's definitely better than nothing."