Text: Albert Lortzing Place and time: Saardam in Holland, 1698 Characters: TSAR PETER I (baritone) – PETER IVANOV, carpenter’s journeyman (tenor) – VAN BETT, burgomaster (bass) – MARIE, his niece (soprano) – ADMIRAL LEFORT, ambassador (bass) – LORD SYNDHAM, ambassador (bass) – MARQUIS VON CHATEAUNEUF, ambassador (tenor) – WIDOW BROWE (alto) – AN OFFICER (speaking role) – A COUNCIL SERVANT (speaking role) Ballet Clog dance To study shipbuilding at the Dutch shipyard in Saardam, the Russian Tsar Peter I is employed as a carpenter’s journeyman under the name Peter Michaelov. There he makes friends with Peter Ivanov, a Russian deserter, who is likewise a carpenter’s journeyman. Ivanov is in love with the niece of the burgomaster van Bett, who is as conceited as he is stupid. Van Bett learns that the Russian Tsar should be in his city but suspects the wrong Peter. The ambassadors of England and France, Lord Syndham and Marquis de Chateauneuf, respectively, are also trying to locate the Tsar to recruit him for their political purposes. But like van Bett, Lord Syndham also takes Peter Ivanov to be the Tsar. Everyone is gathered at a wedding feast when a Dutch officer and soldiers enter the room. Shipyard workers are often enticed away by strangers, and the government wants to know who is behind it. Burgomaster van Bett duly gets involved. When all prove their innocence and, in the end only the two Peters remain, he wants to arrest Ivanov as guilty. Syndham reminds him that Ivanov is supposed to be the Tsar, and so Michaelov, the real Tsar, is arrested. He is, however, at the end of his patience and angrily cracks down on the burgomaster who hides under the table. The Tsar is to receive a worthy welcome, and so van Bett rehearses with the citizens an homage cantata that he wants to present to Ivanov, whom he still takes to be the Tsar. Marie is meanwhile deeply saddened. Her beloved Peter is supposed to be the Tsar, and a marriage is no longer possible due to the difference in class. She voices her distress to the real Tsar and he promises her a happy ending. Tsar Peter I has to leave the country because of unrest in Russia that requires his presence, though the government has had the harbor closed. Peter Ivanov rushes to the aid with a diplomatic passport that he got as alleged Tsar from the English ambassador. In exchange he gets a letter from the Tsar and as the latter leaves the harbor aboard his ship, van Bett first learns the Tsar’s true identity. As van Bett wants to stop the Tsar, Ivanov reads out the letter appointing himself as the imperial superintendent and consenting to his marriage with Marie, “with the dunderhead’s niece”.