Dined this day with Mr. D. at the Dutch Embassador’s; went in the evening to the German Comedy. We had a Tragedy call’d Demetrius Ivanowitsch Czar of Muscovy,1 a new piece play’d here for the first time: this evening.
1. A play by August Friedrich Ferdinand von Kotzebue, which was written in St. Petersburg in 1782. Kotzebue was serving as secretary to Baron Friederich Wilhelm Bawr, governor general of St. Petersburg, and helped in the management of the German theater in the Russian capital. The play, which had difficulty passing the censors, was the first German one on the theme of Demetrius, a popular subject of 19th-century German playwrights, and was quite unrepresentative of later treatments. The play depicts Demetrius, third son of Ivan the Terrible, as escaping Boris Godunov’s assassins and recovering the throne by his noble instincts and good deeds after Godunov’s death in 1605. Historically, Demetrius either was killed or stabbed himself to death while in an epileptic fit in 1591 (Erwin C. Brody, The Demetrius Legend and Its Literary Treatment in the Age of the Baroque, Rutherford, N.J., 1972, p. 220, 9; Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale description begins J. C. F. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, Paris, 1852-1866; 46 vols. description ends ).