Edward Watson as the Crown Prince Rudolf and Mara Galeazzi as Mary Vetsera in Kenneth MacMillan’s Royal Ballet production of Mayerling.
Kenneth MacMillan turned to the double suicide of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his teenage mistress for this 1978 work. The music of Franz Liszt, arranged by John Lanchbery, provides a sweeping soundscape to match the high emotion of the drama, while the designs of Nicholas Georgiadis bring to life the privileged and oppressive society of the Austro-Hungarian court.
MacMillan’s choreography balances the large-scale – the pomp of a royal wedding and the splendour of a ballroom – with intimate scenes and a willingness to push the boundaries of classical ballet. The role of Rudolf, the violent and troubled Crown Prince of Vienna, is one of the most demanding ever created for a male dancer. His psychological and emotional decline is charted in a series of shockingly charged pas de deux with the women in his life: his mother, his unhappy bride and his young mistress, the neurotic Mary Vetsera.