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 Post subject: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 5:08 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Thrilling tribute to MacMillan
by debra craine for The Times


THIS is Kenneth MacMillan’s year. For the next eight months the Royal Ballet’s programming will be dominated by his works as the company marks the tenth anniversary of the choreographer’s death. Last night, the tribute began on the exact anniversary of his death (he suffered a heart attack backstage during a performance) with a revival of his Mayerling, surely one of the most harrowing ballets of the 20th century.

In many ways, Mayerling, created for Covent Garden in 1978, sums up the best and worst of MacMillan’s unique talent. Telling complex stories sometimes got the better of him, but when it came to raw emotion — ugly, brutal, passionate, transcendent — there was no one to beat him.

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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2002 6:13 am 
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Location: UK
I'll want to post something more detailed later but I have to say I thought Kobborg was incredible, just absolutely brilliant. He totally made the role of Rudolf his own. Mara too, and I can't wait to her see her as Vetsera. The surprise for me was Cojocaru - I went in prepared to be disappointed but instead I found her so very convincing. In spite of her sweet exterior, it felt like there was this hint of deviousness behind it. I feel like I really watched her dance as a woman in the ballet, even though Vetsera is supposed to be only 17 (and I wasn't totally convinced in Onegin). Really have to hand to whoever coached her. And of course their pdds did not disappoint. I thought the whole cast were wonderful and the music so, so beautiful - you really feel it in the pit of your stomach! I'd only seen Mayerling on video myself and it just does not compare - you don't see how sumptuous the velevety drapes are and what a gorgeous production it really is.


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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2002 4:16 am 
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Mayerling
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian

There was to be no fuss, just a commemorative essay in the programme and a final bow from Lady MacMillan. But for many of those watching Tuesday's revival of Mayerling, first danced in 1978, the timing of the performance said everything. Not only was it exactly 10 years ago that the ballet's creator, Kenneth MacMillan, suffered a fatal heart attack, but it happened backstage during a performance of the same work.

When MacMillan brought Mayerling back to the stage in 1992, it was partly to showcase the dramatic talents of Irek Mukhamedov. On Tuesday the central role of mad, bad Crown Prince Rudolf was performed for the first time by Johan Kobborg, a very different dancer but one who surely would have excited MacMillan just as much.

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A worthy return to form
By Clement Crisp for The Financial Times


With a sensitivity usually associated with the Sherman tank, the Royal Opera House began its tribute season to Kenneth MacMillan on the 10th anniversary of his death by reviving Mayer ling, during whose performance on this very night in 1992 he had died. What grubby trick, I wondered, would the theatre pull for curtain-calls? In the event, we saw Johan Kobborg, alone on stage, loudly and proudly cheered for his fine interpretation of the doomed, damned Archduke Rudolf. The remaining calls brought the rest of the cast and, in a most honourable gesture, Lady MacMillan appeared with Lynn Seymour and David Wall, great originals of Mary Vetsera and Rudolf. Both artists had been involved in coaching the cast, and the rewards of this long-overdue acceptance of how roles should be passed on were clear to see. The revival, even in the usual Opera Ho use tradition of first performances as sketches of better things to come, was true, splendid.

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Dancers on MacMillan
David Wall and Monica Mason, who worked with Sir Kenneth Macmillan, describe what it was like to work with Britain's greatest choreographer. From the Daily Telegraph

David Wall, balletmaster at English National Ballet. Original Crown Prince Rudolf in Mayerling, 1974:

"I realised from the scenario that Crown Prince Rudolf would be probably the biggest role ever made for a man, but it was only when it all came together that we realised the scale of this deep, complex, rather depraved creation."

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A masterpiece magnificently done
Ismene Brown for The Daily Telegraph reviews "Mayerling".


To be able to walk out of a drama about a rotten man's spiral into suicidal degradation with a sense of elation can only be because one has just experienced a theatrical masterpiece, the great soul and magnificent ambition of Kenneth MacMillan's Mayerling.

Astounding performance: Johan Kobborg as Rudolf and Alina Cojocaru as Vetsera
This ballet-dramatisation of the death of the last Habsburg prince in 1889 attempts to do more things than surely ever ballet has done, and pulls most of them off with brilliance.

Its revival at the Royal Ballet opened on the 10th anniversary of the night that MacMillan died backstage at Covent Garden, another opening night, another Mayerling, painful memories.

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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2002 8:16 pm 
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Location: Staines UK
Mayerling is so rich in layers and emotion, and I am glad it is not revived too frequently - it needs superlative casting and becomes all the more exotic by being slightly rare. I guess I have seen about ten performances in 20 years. I agree with Mr Crisp, and consider it Macmillans best three acter. The characters are very real and their situations genuine. The Liszt music is a perfect complement, wonderfully arranged by Lanchbery and surely worthy of a recording.

Tuesdays first night was outstanding. Kobborg was intensely moving as he vividly charted the decline and fall of Rudolf. The final scenes wtoth Larisch and Vetsera were almost unbearably poignant. Amidst such superb acting, he danced quite gloriously, and I wonder if in that respect he might be considered the best since Wall. The precision of his jumps and turns is awesome, and his solo in the first ballroom scene wonderfully poised.

The six pas de deux for Rudolf are among Macmillans greatest, and of these the first encounter with Vetsera which ends Act II is the best. I had thought Alina Cojocaru might be too young for the role, but she proved me totally wrong, and showed that she really is an awesome talent. The erotic concentration and power she brought lifted the performance still higher,and stunned the audience. The flexibility of her spine is amazing. I guess Seymour must take some of the credit for this transformation.

Galeazzi was the youngest Vetsera I have seen, and it took a little time to get used to her, but her acting was as ever vivid, and she conveyed real desperation by the final scenes. Rosato, treasurable artist, conveyed all the repressed emotion and frustration that is Elisabeth with great power. Nunez was a delicious Mitzi, so light and accurate. Keating looked incredibly young at Stephanie, but managed the fearsome acrobatics of the wedding night pas de deux with great aplomb. Morera conveyed just the right frisson of amazed arousal as Louise, using her eyes to great effect.

The other casting was from strength amd cameos were clear and told the story. I do sometimes feel that the Four Hungarian Officers outstay their welcome in Act I, and their repeated molestation of Rudolf could easily be misconstrued as the angry petulance of ex-boyfriends,if one hadn't read the programme.

This promises to be a vintage revival, and I look forward to seeing the other casts.


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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2002 8:18 pm 
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Sorry - I meant Galeazzi was the youngest Larisch I have seen!!


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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2002 4:55 am 
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Review in The Sunday Times.

Quote:
The Royal Ballet started this season’s celebration of the late Sir Kenneth MacMillan on Tuesday with a revival of his dramatic ballet Mayerling — 10 years to the day since the choreographer died backstage at the Opera House during a performance of the same work. The trauma of that event was still fresh in many of our minds. Much has happened to the company at Covent Garden over the intervening decade, including the recent upheaval in the directorship. What the return of Mayerling illustrates is that so many leading dancers have come up or come in since the ballet was last given eight years ago. In three alternating casts for this latest revival, almost all the artists in the main roles were making debuts last week.
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And in the Observer.

Quote:
Performers can only inherit the true value of their roles if they are passed on with love and understanding. In remounting Mayerling, the Royal Ballet has managed to heal many wounds, old and new. Monica Mason, now acting director, has held the company together during the fraught period of Ross Stretton's departure, enabling teachers and coaches to concentrate on their work. First performances have already proved how well different casts inhabit the decadent 1880s Vienna of MacMillan's imagination.

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<small>[ 11-03-2002, 06:01: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2002 7:21 pm 
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The next cast I saw were as impressive as the first, but conveyed a different focus due to the different physiques of the dancers. Cope uses his size to advantage, and is tremendously anguished and dangerous, without being quite as poignant as Kobborg. Rojo is physically like Lynn Seymour, voluptuous and almost siren like as she bewitches Rudolf. She looked immensely relieved at the curtain call, maybe because as the last pas de deux is so risky, and they danced with glorious abandon. One wonders how they cope with the thought of suicide behind all the athletics.
Yanowsky was Elisabeth, cooler than Rosato and very beautiful, and amazingly managed to age convincingly in manner to be credible as Copes Mother. Tapper was a very bold, quite sluttish Larisch, more eyes used to great effect. Burn was on great form as a petulant but terrified Stephanie. I think her experience showed in the Act I finale - she was the Stephanie to Irek, so was utterly confident in the partnering


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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2002 5:37 pm 
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Oh wow! Never having seen 'Mayerling' before I was
almost overwhelmed by Saturday night's performance. It is such a rich story with so many important characters it seems to me impossible to take it all in in one sitting. I have to admit without the synopsys in the programme I would have been quite lost on occasion as to what was going on with whom.

Johann Kobborg was absolutely amazing and brought the house down when he appeared all alone on the empty stage at the end of the performance. Hopefully he will not go back to Copenhagen anytime soon.

There were many fine performances, too many in fact to mention them right now. I thought the entire company looked in very good form.

A little piece of information that might interest the non-German speakers amongst you: In the second act during the birthday celebrations for Emporer Franz-Josef his 'friend' Katherina Schratt (opera singer Elizabeth Sikora) sings.
The song, a very melancholic tune, tells of saying goodby and leaving and thus reflects very nicely Crown Prince Rudolf's suicidal tendencies.


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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2002 3:43 am 
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Review from The Independent.

Quote:
As dysfunctional royal families go, the Hapsburgs of Austria in the 1880s beat them all. To the world, they showed a picture of propriety, to each other, an opened can of worms. Father barely spoke to mother, mother barely spoke to son. So inured was Empress Elisabeth to Emperor Franz Josef's infidelities that she gave him an oil painting of his mistress for his birthday. Little wonder that by the age of 30 Crown Prince Rudolf had developed syphilis, an Oedipus complex, a morphine habit and a death wish. Cap it all with a hushed-up double suicide involving a 17-year-old lover and more than a whiff of political conspiracy, and you have a soap plot more lurid than any you could invent.

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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2002 4:44 am 
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Many thanks for the comments to date. Do keep them coming! I'm planning to go later this week.


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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2002 3:18 am 
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Faded tribute to the choreography of Kenneth MacMillan
By John Percival for The Independent

Ten years to the day since Kenneth MacMillan suddenly died during a revival of his Mayerling, the Royal Ballet has mounted it again (do you find that a little ghoulish?). This opens a season-long commemoration of the former principal choreographer, which will include three of his long, and four shorter, works.

Dancers love his ballets because they get to emote like crazy and dance impassioned, mostly erotic duets. Performing the big roles, they dodge the downside of three-act ballets, which contain much padding and give the corps de ballet extremely trivial dances (something MacMillan shared with his Russian contemporary, Yuri Grigorovich). In Mayerling, the ensembles in the long brothel scene are really rather ludicrous, as much as the posturing in the imperial court is stiff.

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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2002 2:38 am 
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Review in The FT.

Quote:
The return of Mayerling to Covent Garden marks a revival in the Royal Ballet's fortunes. The company has found in MacMillan's grand historical drama a vital key to its performing identity.


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 Post subject: Re: RB's "Mayerling"
PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2002 6:29 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Mayerling
By Gavin Roebuck for The Stage

Sex and drugs are the themes of this ballet interpreting the double killing of Crown Prince
Rudolf of Austria-Hungary and his young mistress at Mayerling in 1889. The opening night of this
run is ten years to the day since its creator Kenneth MacMillan died backstage during its
performance.

This brutal, depraved and rather depressing ballet starts and ends with a burial and gives a
powerful, percipient psychological insight into the characters.

Johan Kobborg makes his debut as the sadistic antihero Rudolf. In one of the biggest parts for a man, this technically tiring and demanding role requires great strength as he throws his
ballerina about in alarming duets. Kobborg is fully up to this challenge and to the acting needed for the character, as the drama at times almost overwhelms the dance.

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