Friday, February 12, 2010

Elisabeth the musical

Bouncing off from the post on Takarazuka on Monday I'm here to talk about my absolute favorite musical ever, "Elisabeth" by Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay.

Elisabeth is based off of the life of Elisabeth of Bavaria, "Sisi" to close friends. She was a complete tomboy growing up, but was married to her cousin, the Emperor of Austria, Francis Joseph, at only sixteen. She had four children, three girls and one boy, but all children were taken away from her at a young age to be raised by her Aunt/Mother-in-Law. Sisi travelled a lot and came to be known as "The Wandering Empress". She was also obsessed with her beauty and youth, following very strict diet, haircare, and skincare regimes. In 1898 she was assassinated by pure chance by Italian anarchist, Luigi Lucheni. He had missed his original target, spotted Elisabeth, and decided to kill her instead, stabbing her with a sharpened file. You can read more about Sisi's real life on her wiki page.

The musical is a little different, a little more fanciful. It starts in Hell, where Lucheni is under judgment for the murder of Elisabeth. He tries to get out of it by claiming that Elisabeth had wanted to die. When asked to explain he begins the story, calling up the souls of the dead who knew Elisabeth in life to help him.

According to Lucheni, who narrates throughout the whole play (and is always quite sexy in my opinion), after attempting an acrobatic trick when she was a child Elisabeth actually dies. She meets the Angel of Death, Der Tod, who almost immediately falls in love with her. Because of his love, he returns her to life for the price of her forgetting him but swears that he will have her heart in the end. We then follow Sisi throughout her life, the marriage to her cousin Francis, the birth and taking away of her son, her political influences, and a lot of other high and low points of her life that I won't give away.

The music is modern, having been made in the 90's, and has a lot of rock influences. I have seen two versions, the "original" Austrian and the Japanese Takarazuka Moon Troupe's version. I can't say which one I prefer, but there are definitely a lot of differences between the two to make each special. The Austrian version has a lot better singing, but the Takarazuka version has amazing choreography.

Uwe Kroger vs Ayaki Nao as Der Tod

And because I can't talk about this play without sharing youtube clips I'll share the two different versions of my favorite song "Die Schatten Werden Langer"/"Yami ga Hirogaru"/"The Shadows Grow Longer".

Austrian version (With Mate Kamaras as Der Tod and Fritz Schmid as Prince Rudolph)

Japanese Version (With Ayaki Nao as Der Tod and Oozra Yuhhi as Prince Rudolph)

My hope is that one day this musical will make its way to Broadway in the US. I'm absolutely in love with it. I have the Moon Troupe's version on DVD and want badly to get my hand on an Austrian version. All in all I believe it's a compelling story with beautiful music.

If you want learn more about Elisabeth the musical, here is the wiki page. If you don't mind watching things on youtube the whole production with Mate Kamaras as Der Tod is available here. If you're interested in the Takarazuka production, the Takarazuka Insanity Project has the Moon Troupe's 2005 performance (the exact one I own and have shown you here) available with subtitles.

I apologize if I've gotten anything wrong in this post in regard to names or languages, I do not speak or write German or Japanese but I've tried my best to keep things accurate.


  1. Wow she seemed very interesting! I love neat historical figures like that. That first picture is lovely too.

    The musical sounds awesome XD

  2. Hah, Elisabeth :D It doesn't beat my favourite "Tanz der Vampire" but Elisabeth is pretty amazing too. I really liked Death (Der Tod) - he was so sexy ;D I think the show I saw only a substitute actor for him because the actual one was sick, but he was so good, I favoured him to the actual one.
    I snickered at "Francis Joseph", it sounds so funny translated into English like that.. "Franz Josef" sounds so much different.. haha XD
    (I'm from Austria.. so I've seen the Austrian version as well of course and know the names in German, not English)

  3. Gwah, I've been searching for the austrian version, too. I know there's a new collection release, but it doesn't have Uwe kroger in it. Do you know if there's an actual DVD release of Elizabeth with Uwe Kroger? Or where I can watch it? I've seen the Moon Troupe one as well.

  4. Look up the Dutch version soundtrack for a variation, personally I'm not keen on Uwe Kroger's voice. I much prefer Stanley Burleson's Death


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