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Based on the life and death of Elisabeth of Bavaria, the Empress of Austria & the Queen of Hungary.
The show opens in the "nightly world of the dead and the dreamers", where Luigi Lucheni is being interrogated by an imaginary Judge as to why he has murdered the Empress Elisabeth, a continuous punishment for his deed that has lasted for over one hundred years. Lucheni claims that he did no more than what Elisabeth herself wanted, since all her life Elisabeth has been in love with Death himself - and vice versa. As his witnesses, Lucheni brings back the dead aristocracy of the bygone era and takes us to the past, where he serves as a sarcastic narrator of the events that lead to the transformation of the sweet and innocent Sisi to the revered and infamous Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Hungary, and her decline through later years until her assassination.
At a young age, Sisi, grown up in a seemingly sorrowless environment, experiences her first encounter with Death, a dashing handsome young man, which launches a love-hate affair that will span her entire life.
Lucheni claims that once Franz Joseph, the Emperor of Austria, picks Elisabeth as his bride - for once opposing his domineering mother Sophie - he began a chain of events that eventually toppled the Habsburg empire. Elisabeth herself very soon comes to regret her seemingly "fairy-tale marriage" as the biggest mistake of her life. She feels abandoned by her careless husband, psychologically abused by her possessive mother-in-law and is chronically depressed due to her loneliness. There is only one thing that keeps her emotionally stimulated, and that is the dark and sensual shadow of Death, but Elisabeth is reluctant to consummate their relationship. When Death takes her infant daughter, the tragedy shakes the young Empress extremely, but she refuses to give in to Death's sway.
After her other three children, including her only son Rudolf, are taken away by Sophie, Elisabeth calluses over and becomes a cold, selfish woman. She flees the Austrian court and spends decades restlessly travelling all over the world, trying in vain to escape from her fear of emptiness. Eventually, Elisabeth makes peace with her husband and finds new meaning in her life when she helps unify Austria and Hungary, but her new found purpose makes her neglect her psychologically delicate son even further, sending young Rudolf into deep depression and causing him to bond with Death.
Eventually, Rudolf's own loneliness and his father's overbearing, conservative views cause him to snap and he embraces Death, committing suicide at Mayerling with his mistress, May Vetsara. This event completely breaks down Elisabeth and she begs Death to take her. However, her scorned lover now refuses to take her in.
Another decade goes by. Elisabeth still wanders from place to place, dressed in permanent mourning. Franz Joseph visits her from time to time, begging her to return home to Vienna, firmly believing that love is the answer to all sorrows, but Elisabeth refuses, citing that sometimes love is simply not enough to cure old wounds.
Finally, Death takes pity on the unhappy Empress. In a horrifying vision of the fall of the House of Habsburg, Franz Joseph finally meets his mysterious rival. He witnesses Death throw Lucheni a dagger, but being crushed under the weight of his imperial crest, he is powerless to save his wife.
On September 10, 1898, while on her way to board a ship in Geneva, Empress Elisabeth of Austria is attacked by a mad anarchist named Luigi Lucheni and is stabbed in the heart by a crudely improvised needle file. She dies shortly after and embraces her one true love, Death.
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