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Sport of Kings

Can you guess this piece? Here's a hint: the best of all possible odds

Voltaire’s 1759 novel was originally conceived as a parody of Enlightenment mentality, particularly the philosophical optimism of Gottfried Leibniz. In the hands of our composer, the story still managed to retain its satirical edge. In the scene we just heard, the world-traveling hero lands in Venice. There, he is drawn into the cynical world of gambling and corruption, set to the spin of the roulette wheel. This operetta’s survival was itself something of a gamble: its genesis was extremely problematic and multiple versions abound.

Music Heard On This Episode

Frank Loesser: Fugue for Tinhorns; Luck be a Lady
1992 Broadway Cast — Guys and Dolls (RCA Victor Broadway, 1992)
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Frank Loesser: Fugue for Tinhorns; Luck be a Lady
1992 Broadway Cast — Guys and Dolls (RCA Victor Broadway, 1992)
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Igor Stravinsky: Jeu de Cartes
Chicago Symphony Orch/Georg Solti — Petrushka (London, 1996)
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Giacomo Puccini: Who can divine Doretta's lovely dream?
William Matteuzzi/Angela Gheorghiu/London Symphony/Antonio Pappano — La Rondine (EMI Classics, 1997)
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Neal Hefti; Roy Alfred; Murray Berlin: Fantail; The late late show
Count Basie Orchestra — Basie Swings Standards (Pablo, 2009)
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Carl Orff: Burning Inside; In the Tavern
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Chorus & Orch of Opera Berlin; Eugen Jochum — Carmina Burana (Deutsche Grammophon, 1996)
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George Gershwin: Oh little stars; My man's gone now
Warren Coleman; Camilla Williams; J. Rosamund Johnson Chorus/Lehman Engel — Porgy and Bess (Sony Classical, 1998)
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Sergei Prokofiev: Act IV, Scene 2
Vladimir Galusin; Kirov Opera Orch & Chorus/Valery Gergiev — The Gambler (Polygram Records Philips, 1999)
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Burt Bacharach: The Look Of Love
Dusty Springfield — The Look Of Love (Polygram Records, 1999)
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Stephen Foster: Camptown Races
Sara Davis Buechner, piano — The Complete Piano Works of Stephen Foster (Pro-Piano Records, 2002)
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Leonard Bernstein: Money; What's the Use?
London Symphony Orch/Soloists/Leonard Bernstein — Bernstein Conducts Candide (Deutsche Grammophon, 1997)
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Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Act III Scene 3
Soloists/Kirov Opera Orch & Chorus/Valery Gergiev — Queen of Spades (Philips, 1993)
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Daniel-Franç Auber: Act I; Finale
Soloists/Lyric Orch & Chorus Radio-France/Jean-Pierre Marty — Manon Lescaut (EMI, 2003)
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Doc Pomus; Mort Shuman: Viva Las Vegas
Elvis Presley — Viva Las Vegas (Sony, 2010)
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