Elizabeth of Russia, it all goes back to a book that seemingly popped off a shelf decades ago as wife- Sharon walked through Brant’s Used Book Store in Sarasota, Florida. She felt a special destiny in that moment. The book was about Elizabeth of Russia, the daughter of Peter the Great. However, although she wrote her book after some initial research, the idea sat dormant in her mind. Some twenty plus years later, Sharon then met with her husband David, a composer, began collaborating on the project, and Elizabeth of Russia was born.
Sharon was the guiding light and force behind this gargantuan stage project which had over 30 actors (including all three of our children); principle dancers of the Sarasota Ballet (their dance is featured in the video above), and featured Rubinoff’s Stradivarius violin – then played by a member of the Florida West Coast Symphony Orchestra – Damaeon Pegis (which will appear on the web site in the future). The violin was purchased in 1929 by Rubinoff for $100,00,00 (today it’s valued at $5,000.000.00) The Strad, made in 1729, belonged to Czar Nicholas II. It has the official crest and seal on the finger board of the Russia Empire set with diamonds and rubies. The story of the violin almost exactly parallels the recent hit movie, The Red Violin: The violin could have been near by Czar Nicolas II when he was assassinated. For the Player’s performance, David Ohrenstein had access to this violin through Rubinoff’s then widow, Dame Darlene Rubinoff, who flew in from Houston with the violin out of their friendship. David worked for many years as Rubinoff’s arranger and accompanist and Darlene treated him as one of her own. (Watch for more blogs about my associations with the Rubinoffs).
In another Elizabeth of Russia story, after the musical premiered at the Players Theater in Sarasota Florida, it was then chosen to be an official event for the joint centennial celebrations of St. Petersburg Florida and St Petersburg Russia. Amy Schwarz- Morretti, then principle violinist with the Florida Orchestra, dazzled sold out houses by playing Rubinoff’s Dance of the Russia Peasant featured in the play as a defiant act against the ruling German faction; The Maestro wanted to play his violin with such a passion that even though she was double booked on one of the nights; she left her nearby concert during intermission, had a waiting taxi by the back door of Symphony Hall, was shuttled to the Palladium Theatre, played the violin, ran out its back door with no time to acknowledge her applause even though she received a standing ovation and the audience was roaring with appreciation, and then back to the Florida Orchestra in time to play the 2nd half of her orchestral concert.
If you are interested in learning more about Elizabeth of Russia, contact David or Sharon at (941) 724-4826 or email@example.com.