LET'S HAVE AN "ELOQUENTLY VIOLENT" MAYERLING FOR ABT, MR. MCKENZIE

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The Royal Ballet in London recently opened their fall season with a revival of Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling (MacMillan of course is a SLSG favorite choreographer). It’s based on the true story of the apparent suicide / murder in 1889 of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and his lover Baronness Mary Vetsera whose bodies were found in Mayerling, Rudolf’s hunting lodge. Prince Rudolf, sole son of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, was heir to the thrones of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia.

Londoners seem to be loving the ballet. From Neil Norman’s Daily Express review:

“Like John Cranko and Michael Corder, MacMillan choreographs for full-blooded men. There is never any doubt about the masculinity and virility of his creatures. The brothel scene that opens Act II reeks of cigar smoke and a sense of political unease is brilliantly conveyed by the huddled quartet of officers who periodically grab Rudolf to whisper into his ear.

“As the tragedy slides inexorably towards its conclusion, Rudolf’s entanglement with his young mistress, Mary Vetsera (Maria Galeazzi) drives him into a paroxysm of violent frustration. Watson’s tortured solo as he clutches his head and writhes in a kaleidoscope of movement had me clutching my kneecaps until my knuckles were white.

“The denouement is terrifying. As Watson duets with Galeazzi in unhinged passion, the stage seems to smoke with some of the most eloquently violent moves in classical ballet. It really doesn’t get much better than this. If you don’t have a ticket, do something dangerous to get one.”

A few other reviews are here, here, and here. For a full list of reviews see here.

And this from our friends over at the Ballet Bag, which whom I was chatting on Twitter. They told me they think our Marcelo Gomes would make an excellent Prince Rudolf. I think maybe David Hallberg would as well — may give him a chance to get all of that aggression out of his system :)

Here’s a photo they posted of the Royal’s excellent Johan Kobborg in the role.  

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Photo of Kobborg by Bill Cooper; top photo by Tristam Kenton from the Financial Times.

What do you guys think? Would an American audience take to such “eloquent violence”? Haglund thinks so, as do I — we have with his other ballets. C’mon Kevin McKenzie, give us a Mayerling!

5 Comments

  1. I've often wondered why Mayerling does not get the same recognition that one of Macmillan's other ballets, Manon, gets. I think everything about Mayerling is brilliant: the jaw-droppingly difficult pas de deuxs, the fact that the male gets the lead for a change, and the usage of several dancers in prominent parts, and the great Lizst score arranged by John Lanchbery. I also like the fact that it is based on a true story, something not of the norm in dance, particularly ballet. I had watched the 1994 video of the Royal Ballet with Irek Mukhamedov as Rudolph and loved it, but when I first saw it live with Edward Watson as the lead in 2007, it was like I had never watched the ballet before. Seeing it live was unbelievable; a complete difference from watching it on TV, the latter of which was satisfactory in itself.

  2. Yes, Marcelo Gomes for Prince Rudolf! Hopefully McKenzie will listen. Thanks for the shout outs!

  3. American audience will probably love it if well staged and cast but the”critics” will hate it(as all Macmillan ballets).It also has several good roles for ballerinas.

  4. Thanks for your input you guys! I'm glad I'm not the only one who wants a Mayerling here. Jose — isn't it weird how much of a disconnect there is between the critics and the public here? It seems everything the critics hate audiences love and vice versa. Practically everything audiences went wild for at Fall For Dance the critics hated and two of the ballets ABT just premiered that it seems audiences loved critics panned. I would not want to be an artistic director right now.

    Matthew — I really can't understand why McKenzie won't take this one on either. Especially since ABT has so many outstanding male leads. Unless he thinks it's too dark?… But you're right, Manon is dark as well. And ABT did Othello not long ago. I love the fact it's based on a true story too.

  5. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thanks for your input you guys! I'm glad I'm not the only one who wants a Mayerling here. Jose — isn't it weird how much of a disconnect there is between the critics and the public here? It seems everything the critics hate audiences love and vice versa. Practically everything audiences went wild for at Fall For Dance the critics hated and two of the ballets ABT just premiered that it seems audiences loved critics panned. I would not want to be an artistic director right now.

    Matthew — I really can't understand why McKenzie won't take this one on either. Especially since ABT has so many outstanding male leads. Unless he thinks it's too dark?… But you're right, Manon is dark as well. And ABT did Othello not long ago. I love the fact it's based on a true story too.

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