i had been intending to watch kenneth macmillan’s ballet, mayerling, for ages (seriously, for years!) but i was never quite in the mood for something that appeared to be so dark. so, i would always watch something else instead until last week, while feeling quite a bit under the weather, i decided to snuggle up in my bed with some tea and watch it online. ($1.99 amazon instant video)! i watched the royal ballet’s recording starring the very attractive edward watson as crown prince rudolf. now i confess to crushing on ed a little bit during the royal ballet’s livestream day a while back, so you would think that would be enough to entice me to watch mayerling straight away, but to be honest i prefer edward A) without a mustache and B) when he’s not a drugged out, abusive, violent, messed up creep.
mayerling is based on the true story of crown prince rudolf of austria-hungary, and if this ballet is anything to go by, rudy was a bit of a mess and not a very nice guy. there must have been something about him however, because dang, he could sure attract the ladies. seriously, this ballet consists of pas de duex after pas de deux. rudolf with his mom (he’s mad at her for making him get married), rudolf with his new bride (he’s really mean to her on their wedding night, i assume because he doesn’t want be married plus he’s just an asshole, i guess), rudolf with his courtesan girlfriend, rudolph with his ex-lover the countess, and finally with mary vetsera who is the young daughter of an empress (i think) and perhaps something of a kindred spirit to the crown prince. to be honest, with the exception of mary vetsera, i kept getting confused about who all these women were and frequently paused the video to check the wikipedia synopsis.
now, i am a fan of macmillan, and while he has choreographed some of the most beautiful pas de deux the ballet world has ever seen, i began to tire of all the angry, rapey, abusive pas de deux mayerling has to offer. that could be because they all seem repetitive after a while, or it could be because i prefer romantic, happy things. and it’s not like i’m allll about puppies and rainbows and happy bunnies or anything, i like drama well enough, but i think there are only so many tumultuous sex pas de deux you can watch in one sitting. that having been said, ed watson was absolutely brilliantly creepy and strung out as crown prince rudolph and omg! mara galeazzi was a marvel as mary vetsera. when we first meet mary she seems very sweet and you want to go “mary, no! stay away from rudy- he’s a disaster!” but then after seeing them together you realize maybe she is as tortured as he is and they seem to belong together in a sick sort of way and their tragic, violent deaths seem almost inevitable.
there was the occasional light moment in the ballet i should mention- including a tavern scene that was a lot of fun, complete with frizzy haired harlots ( macmillan loves his frizzy haired harlots, doesn’t he?) made even more enjoyable by the appearance of sergei polunin (i kind of love sergei) and bennet gartside, who is not only a fab dancer but one of my favorite people to follow on twitter as he is so clever and funny. and my absolutely favorite moments in this entire ballet by far were the two solo variations danced by steven mcrae who played bratfisch, prince rudy’s driver/entertaining ….friend? or something like that. bratfisch thankfully gives us a few moments of lightheartedness, a much appreciated break from the ongoing misery, and mcrea is FANTASTIC! (i freaking adore steven mcrea anyway, and would watch him dance anything).
mayerling has yet to be performed in the united states and while i didn’t exactly love it i would certainly go see it if say, american ballet theatre should decide to put it on. it’s not a ballet i could watch forever like romeo and juliet, but i suppose i’d like to see it once or twice live. (marcelo gomes would make a fabulous prince rudolf and i’d love to see cory stearns play rudy as well. and of course i’d give my favorite role, bratfisch, to my favorite guy herman cornejo. as far as mary vetsera….. ??? not sure. simone messmer if she was still at ABT.)
so anyway….. i shall leave you with video of my favorite clip from mayerling – that would be the non-miserable bit featuring cutie steven mcrae as bratfisch.
but wait! there’s more!
or you could always watch the entire ballet on video, you know, if you feel like being depressed 😉