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.