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30th Aniversary Season - 2008
Operetta in 3 acts by Béla Jenbach and Heinz Reichert. Music by Franz Lehár.
Premiere: Deutsches Künstlertheater, Berlin, 16 February 1927
Aljoscha, the son of Russia's czar, has grown up with an intense distrust of society and dislike of women. For political reasons, the time has come for the czarevitch to marry. His uncle, the Grand Duke, arranges for an attractive dancer, Sonja, to disguise herself as a male and join a troupe of dancers called in to entertain Aljoscha. His annoyance upon discovering her identity turns to feelings of friendship, and eventually to love—a love that is threatened when his uncle convinces him that he is but one in a long string of lovers for Sonja. When she proves to him that she is his first and only love, the couple flees to Naples. Their idyllic life away from the Russian court is challenged when the Grand Duke appears and announces that the czar is dead and that duty calls...
Decades after his Merry Widow infused new life into a seemingly dying operetta world, Franz Lehár wrote six shows for tenor Richard Tauber that represented the summit of the Silver Age of Viennese operetta. In the second of these, The Czarevitch, the composer drew on a lush vocal and orchestral palette that in its Pucciniesque romanticism anticipates his Land of Smiles of two years later. Amongst the succession of great tunes is one of the most popular in the operetta repertoire, the "Volga song," sung by Aljoscha as he confronts his loneliness and begs for angelic guidance.