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Elisabeth is a Viennese, German-language musical with book/lyrics by Michael Kunze and music by Sylvester Levay. It portrays the life and death of Empress Elisabeth (“Sisi”) of Austria, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I.
It has been translated into seven languages and seen by over ten million spectators worldwide, making it the most successful German-language musical of all time.
Plot: The musical creates a love triangle between Elisabeth, Franz Joseph and Death with Luigi Lucheni, Elisabeth’s assassin, serving as the narrator.
Favorite Musical Numbers:
Mama, wo bist du? (Young Rudolf/Death) + Die Schatten Werden Länger (Rudolf/Death) + Wenn Ich Tanzen Will (Death/Elisabeth)
As a fan of Rudolf Affair Mayerling, I especially love the small role Rudolf plays in Elisabeth and his songs are heartbreaking and gorgeous.
- There has been no English version thus far. (I have had to rely on translations on YouTube and the internet to decipher the lyrics.)
- Sissi’s famous Franz Xaver Winterhalter portrait was the inspiration for Christine’s Think of Me dress and hair in the 2004 The Phantom of the Opera film.
- Sissi’s murder in 1891 by an Italian anarchist called Luigi Lucheni is believed to be one of the key moments that led to the start of the Great War.
- In the 1950s a romanticized trilogy of films starring Romy Schneider were produced in Germany.
- The musical was commissioned as a more realistic depiction in response to the 1950s films.
Dream Broadway/West End Cast:
I highly doubt that an English version of Elisabeth will be produced any time soon especially because the story of Elisabeth is not well known in American and British circles. But it was a big hit in Japan so why wouldn’t it work in the States or the UK? If it were to happen my dream cast would be:
Elisabeth – Christy Altomare.
Death – Adam Lambert.
Franz Joseph – Ramin Karimloo.
Luigi – Jeremy Jordan.
Rudolf (can’t think of anyone age appropriate yet…)