On September 5, 2012 the curtain will rise on a special anniversary edition of hit musical Elisabeth at Vienna's Raimund Theater. These performances of the most successful German-language musical of all time will not only coincide with the 175th anniversary of Empress Elisabeth's birth: they also celebrate another special Sisi-related milestone. It is 20 years since the world premiere played out in Vienna, sending showstopper "Ich gehör nur mir" on a journey around the world. Elisabeth recounts the dramatic and touching story of the life, times and sorrows of Empress Elisabeth, giving audiences a poignant glimpse into the bygone world of the House of Habsburg. Since its debut in 1992, Elisabeth's moving score, impressive choreography and spectacular stage sets have cast a spell on 8.5 million people from 11 countries including Belgium, Finland, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Switzerland.
From September 16, 2012, all eyes will be on Elisabeth's trips to Corfu, in a new exhibition at the Imperial Furniture Collection (Hofmobiliendepot). The Empress visited the Greek island for the first time in 1861, and returned 15 years later to have Achilleion Palace built. The focus of this exhibition at the Hofmobiliendepot is on the monarch's interest in Greek culture and archaeology, and the role she played in creating her very own island getaway. Among the exhibits are countless original artifacts including items of furniture, clothing, accessories and pieces from Sisi's private collection of antiquities. The Empress traveled to and from the island in luxury aboard the royal yacht Miramar and her opulent imperial railway carriage. A scale model of the yacht and various personal effects including Sisi's travelwear are also on show. The permanent exhibition Sissi in Film is another of the attractions at the Hofmobiliendepot. It shows clips from the legendary 1950s Sissi trilogy, starring Romy Schneider and directed by Ernst Marishka. The permanent show is supplemented with many original items of furniture from the imperial court which had pride of place in the movies.
The Sisi Museum at the Imperial Hofburg Palace is another absolute must for fans of the Empress. This permanent installation at the Imperial Apartments contrasts some of the myths surrounding the Empress with her everyday life using many of the monarch's personal effects. In the 2012 anniversary year, the Empress's newly refurbished bathroom will be on display alongside her recently restored, world-famous portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. And from 2012 September the Sisi Museum will look at the lives of her four children.
The ruling Habsburgs' magnificent summer residence, Schönbrunn Palace, is another mecca for Sisi fans. At the Imperial Carriage Museum in the Palace, the Sisi Trail allows visitors to follow key events in her life from her marriage to her tragic death in 1898. Her story is brought to life by exhibits including some of the opulent carriages used by the Empress as well as portraits, clothing and riding tack. The Empress Elisabeth memorial in a quiet corner of the Volksgarten park, Sisi's dream palace Hermesvilla at the Lainz Game Reserve and her final resting place at the Imperial Burial Vault are all well worth a visit. And finally, thanks to Demel, former Purveyor of Confectionery to the Imperial Court, visitors can sample the candied violets which Sisi loved so dearly.
- Elisabeth the musical, jubilee edition, from Sep 5, 2012, Raimund Theater, Wallgasse 18-20, 1060 Vienna, www.musicalvienna.at
- Sisi on Corfu. The Empress and the Achilleion, Sep 26, 2012-Jan 27, 2013, Hofmobiliendepot. Imperial Furniture Collection. Andreasgasse 7, 1070 Vienna, www.hofmobiliendepot.at
- Sisi Museum, Hofburg, 1010 Vienna, www.hofburg-wien.at
- Schloss Schönbrunn and Imperial Carriage Museum with Sisi trail, Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse, 1130 Vienna, www.khm.at
- Empress Elisabeth Memorial, Volksgarten, Burgring 1, 1010 Vienna, www.bundesgaerten.at
- Hermesvilla Wien Museum, Lainzer Tiergarten Hermesstrasse entrance, 1130 Vienna, www.wienmuseum.at
- Imperial Burial Vault, Tegetthoffstrasse 2, 1010 Vienna, www.kaisergruft.at
- Demel, Former Purveyors of Confectionery to the Imperial Court, Kohlmarkt 14, 1010 Vienna, www.demel.at