Honors College Thesis

“If I Were Your Mirror” – A Reflection on Austrian History Through Elisabeth das Musical

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  • This project examines the portrayal of the life and times of Kaiserin Elisabeth von Österreich (Empress Elisabeth of Austria) in the popular Austrian musical "Elisabeth das Musical" (Elisabeth the Musical), written by Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay. "Elisabeth" was first performed in Vienna in 1992 and has since become the most successful German-language musical of all time. The musical is used as a case study to investigate contemporary Austria’s relationship with – and denial of – its own history by examining the musical’s portrayal of historical figures and events. "Elisabeth" is further analyzed for its depiction of the titular character in her roles as a wife, mother, and Empress. The effects these roles have on her mental health is also explored. Despite "Elisabeth’s" popularity, the musical’s social commentary has seldom been examined in an academic context. This project seeks to address these lacunae in Austrian History and Women and Gender Studies through the translation and analysis of critical lyrics from the musical.
  • Key Words: Austria, History, German-Language, Translation, Musical Theater, World War II, Sisi, Mental Health
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