Based on a musical play by Eric Maschwitz, a Russian prince falls in love with a revolutionary singer just before war and revolution.
In 1914 Russia soldiers ride into a village, and Prince Peter Karagin (Nelson Eddy) sings "Ride, Cossack, Ride." Lydia Marakova (Ilona Massey) sings "Love Is My Game." Peter sends Nicki Popoff (Charles Ruggles) for Lydia. Nicki woos her maid Masha (Joyce Compton). To keep her job Lydia goes to the officers and sings "Balalaika." She says her father was a cossack, but Peter learns her father conducts the orchestra. Peter dresses as a student and offers Lydia champagne; but he has no money with him, and she pays. Nicki sends flowers to Masha. Peter's father General Karagin (C. Aubrey Smith) tells him to investigate revolutionary pamphlets. Lydia's father (Lionel Atwill) and his men prepare more pamphlets. Peter finds Lydia and pays her back. He asks her father for voice lessons and sings in Russian. Peter sees Nicki, and they make up stories. Peter calls Ivan Danchenoff (Frank Morgan) and takes Lydia to him for an opera audition. Lydia sings from Carmen with Peter. Danchenoff hires her. Peter with Lydia drives a team, and she goes to a cemetery to tell her mother of her good fortune. They go to a private dining room, quarrel, and make up.
Leo Proplinski (Abner Biberman) tells Professor Marakov and Lydia that Dimitri Marakov (Dalies Frantz) is speaking to people. Lydia sees Peter leading the soldiers, who break up the rally. Lydia learns that he is Prince Karagin, and her brother Dimitri was killed. Peter calls on Lydia and says he is quitting the army to marry her. Because the party plans to kill them, Lydia tells Peter and his father not to attend the opera. The Karagin box is empty as Lydia sings; but General Karagin arrives, and she sees Peter come in. General Karagin announces that Germany declared war on Russia. Marakov says that he can't kill them now; but Leo shoots General Karagin. Peter tells Lydia that his father will recover. Peter is told that her father was caught, and she must be arrested. Lydia says she believes in the cause.
At Christmas in the trenches Nicki gets a photo from his wife Masha and son, learning Lydia is out of prison but suffering. Austrian soldiers sing "Silent Night," and Peter sings back. Planes drop leaflets, telling soldiers to go home. Peter is ordered to attack, and his men reluctantly charge. Lydia sings and learns of the revolution.
In Paris at the "Balalaika" Danchenoff is doorman; Nicki is proprietor, and General Karagin is wine steward. Masha says they miss Lydia. Peter sings "Balalaika" and accepts tips. At a party of Russian aristocrats Danchenoff sings "Gone Is the Glory." Lydia arrives and is greeted warmly by Masha, Nicki, General Karagin, and Peter, who is surprised by Lydia. Everyone dances and sings.
This musical reflects the class divide in Russia that
led to revolution and the fleeing of aristocrats. Social power
shifts radically, but the loving relationships endure.