Elizabeth of Russia

LogoBook and Lyrics by Sharon Lesley    Music by David Ohrenstein

Musical operetta in Two Acts

Elizabeth of Russia is about one year in the life of party-girl Elizaveta Petrovna – daughter of Czar Peter I and Empress Catherine I.  When Elizabeth gets backed into a corner and faces the possibility of being arrested and possibly executed along with her friends and the man she loves for supposed treason – all because of the beautiful gown she wore to a party, Elizabeth has three choices.  She can go to a nunnery, marry a German Prince, or take the throne which is legally hers.   To protect her love Alexei, a peasant she has secretly married, she knows what she must do.  Yet, she pauses because she does not want to have to be like other royalty .  She asks, “Can a ruler rule without killing anyone?”  Alexei replies, “It must be possible.”  She vows to God that, if she is successful, she will abolish executions and avoid war.  She leads the Preobrazhensky Guards to the palace on the one condition that no one is to draw blood.  Her overthrow is bloodless and a new Empress is crowned.

St Petersburg Times with Amy Schwatz- Moretti playing the Stradivarius
St Petersburg Times with Amy Schwatz- Moretti playing the Stradivarius

In 2003, Elizabeth of Russia was performed as an official event for the centennial anniversaries of St. Petersburg, Russia and Florida. 

Link – Dance of the Cossacks with principle dancers from the Sarasota Ballet www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrnpBQEA9Fg

Link – The Drinking Song  www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymHT-2qiPEc

Link – Dance of the Russian Peasant – played by Rubinoff and his Violin.  His Stradivarius violin, previously owned by the Romanoffs with the imperial crest in rubies and diamonds on it –  was featured in the show playing that piece.   www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_wn9SfNdp4


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Character Descriptions:
Based on historical data

Romanoff Crest in precious stones
Romanoff Crest in precious stones

Elizabeth Petrovana:  daughter of Czar Peter I (the Great) and his second wife Catherine – daughter of a Lithuanian peasant, who later became Empress Catherine I, the first female Empress of Russia.  Elizabeth was born 5 years before her parents were married and was her father’s favorite.  She was beautiful, spirited, and loved Russia intensely.  Auburn haired and blue eyed, a good dancer, loved to hunt and ride.  Was deeply religious, nursed many people back to health, led an unconventional, independent way of life.  Like her father, she set little store by lineage, and a great deal by personal merit.  Born in 1709, she was 32 yr. when she became Empress.

Alexei Razumovsky:  Elizabeth’s lover.  Born into a Ukraine Cossack household.  He was handsome – tall and dark with an appealing smile.  Universally liked for his kindness and good nature, he became known as the Man of Reason.  Loved books and literature, and also deeply religious.  A basso who would serenade her with the balalaika, Elizabeth met him when she heard him singing with the imperial choristers.  His other knickname was the Emperor of the Night.  Age- 32yrs.

Marva Sheperva – Elizabeth’s trusted lady-in-waiting.  A clever and amusing friend since Elizabeth’s childhood.  Part of Elizabeth’s household since 1729.  (She married Peter Shuvalov)  She and her husband were part of Elizabeth’s closest ring of companions before and during her reign.  Thirtyish.

Dr. Armand Lestocq:  A plump little man with sharp black eyes and small head with a cheerful manner.   A member of Elizabeth’s household as her personal physician since 1729.  He was French, high-spirited , gallant, and very ambitious.  He involved himself in intrigues and eventually was dismissed for taking bribes from other countries. fiftyish when Elizabeth took the throne.

Baron Jochiam Totti de la Chetardie: France’s first ambassador to the Russian court. He was a man of the world, an experienced courtier, and accomplished diplomat.  He could fascinate people with his wit, intelligence, and taste.  Also, conceited, frivolous, mischievous, and foolish; lived an extravagant lifestyle.  Age – not known.

Count Andrei Ostermann – the second son of a poor Lutheran pastor.  He studied at Jena University, traveled, and arrived in Russia in 1704 after, according to rumors, he had killed an opponent in a duel.  Hard working, spoke 6 languages, negotiated many delicate treaties.  Also, false and treacherous.  He created the impression of profound indispensability by being servile and ingratiating.  Rarely looked another man in the eyes, he kept his servants in rags, wore repulsive food stained clothes, and kept a poor rather dirty table.  He became Russia’s Foreign Minister, then,  First Minister.  Born in 1686, is 54 yrs. at the time of this play.

Chichirin: Ostermann’s chief spy.  For this play, he is a pants role for a mezzo.  The German influenced spy system was feared by many of Russia’s aristocracy and had contributed to the torture and death of over 20,000 people in the preceding 10 years of rule by the Germans in power under Empress Anna Ivanovna.  Age – undetermined.

Anna Leopoldovana – daughter of Empress Anna Ivanovna’s elder sister and granddaughter of Czar Ivan V (Peter the Great’s half brother and co-ruler).  Raised in Germany and brought to Russia by Empress Anna Ivanovna as the next heir apparent.  At around 16 yrs, she fell in love with the dashing 31 yr. old Count Lynar.  Lynar was recalled to Saxony so, Anna could be forced to marry the man the Empress chose, Prince Anton Ulric – a man she hated.  Anna changed from a lively, engaging and attractive girl into a plain, sullen, almost glum woman.  She liked romance, tended to shut herself away, was quick to tears, and was the victim of many court manipulations.  Anna and Anotn’s son, Ivan, was named the Empress’s heir.  Anna becomes Regent for her son after deposing in a coup the previous Regent of three months – the German-born lover of the dead Empress Anna Ivanovna, Count Biron.  Rumored to have Julia, her lady-in-waiting, as a lover.  Was capricious, passionate, indolent, hated work, and lacked the necessary gifts for governing.  Age – early 20s.

Prince Anton Ulric of Brunswick-Bevern – Anna Leopoldovna’s husband.  German, cousin of Marie Theresa and Austria and a claimant to the Swedish crown.  He had long fair hair, and was a year younger than his wife.  Described as having the best heart and the best temperament imaginable. With an intrepidity and courage for military affairs but too embarrassed and timid for state affairs.

Count Freidrich Lynar:  The ambassador from Saxony (Poland).  Late thirties.  Sixteen years older than Anna when she fell in love with him.  A handsome, dashing courtier who was a bit of an opportunist.  (Double cast as Count Nolken)

Julia von Mengden:  Twentyish.  Anna’s trusted lady-in-waiting.  German born and enjoyed speaking German to Anna.  Devoted to Anna and rumored to be her lover.  Not particularly intelligent or power hungry.

Colonel  Kartsovclose friend of Elizaveta’s – the best friend of her former lover and naval officer Alexander Buturlin.

Preobrazhensky Guards – (Three or more for a chorus)  were created by Peter at the age of 12 while living in seclusion in Preobrazhenskya.  Originally young men and playmates for his war games pastimes.  Peter changed the status quo by choosing Officers through merit not by aristocratic birth.

Count Nolken – ambassador from Sweden.  Educated and aristocratic.  Age undetermined.

Dancers, Courtiers, and a Violinist – numbers to be determined by producer


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