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1 hour ago, Sim said:

Tristan Dyer replaced Paul Kay tonight.  

 

Thanks, Sim.  With the new layout, I keep having to get cast sheets from the ushers, who naturally don't have any slips.  I didn't think it was Paul Kay, but was very high up in the theatre, so couldn't be certain.

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OK, some light relief.  I took my husband to the performance this evening because we already had tickets for West Ham v Spurs in the afternoon and I was desperate to see the Matthew Ball cast again, having been so wowed last week.  Only way to achieve this was to book 2 tickets for this performance and go after the football. 

 

The last live performance my husband saw was Darcey Bussell's final performance, but Mayerling was actually the first performance we ever saw together at the ROH (early 90s / Irek).  I remember, but he doesn't. 

 

Last night we had the following conversation: 

Me - do you remember we went to Mayerling when we visited Vienna and saw where it all happened

H - oh, is Mayerling a place?  I thought it was a person. 

 

You can probably understand now why we have agreed that I go to the ballet on my own and he pursues his passion for diving (equal to my ballet passion) when we are on holiday (I'm claustrophobic under water) .   

 

However, he did join in the standing ovation with me at the end this evening. 

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59 minutes ago, JennyTaylor said:

She was dropped - yes, and I think they missed a lift early on.  Interesting, as this pdd was also flawed last week - at different points, but all the other pdds in the ballet were fine. 

Full marks to both of them for carrying on 110% on both occasions and giving it their all. The physicality was amazing in both performances. 

I thought so.  But says much for their professionalism and dramatic ability that it just looked like more of this violent pas de deuce.  She was wonderful.

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I hope that Elizabeth Harrod is OK too but the flaws in that Act 1 pas de deux didn't matter a jot. They were so real. Ball is so natural on stage and is able to maintain his characterisation through every pas de deux. Very few Rudolfs  manage that.

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OK, so now I am even more upset that I had to miss last night through illness. AND my sister had very generously got us seats in the front row of the stalls, where I have never before sat for a performance. :( :( However, thank you for all the lovely reviews. I will hope to see this cast in the next run of Mayerling!

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8 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

Sorry you are unwell Bridie.  Get well soon!

 

Thanks Jan. Improving already.

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Well, two very contrasting evenings at the ballet on Friday and Saturday. Much as I'm a fan of a lot of the dancers who get most of the attention on this site, it's one of the pleasures of ballet going when one of the less starry gets their chance and really seizes it. So, I was genuinely hoping that Hirano was going to do that - as he did in Winter's Tale where the emotion was displayed forcefully in the unforgiving close-ups of the cinema. But, like many above, I felt Rudolf - so far at least - just wasn't for him. But what was most odd, I found, was that his Act 3 really was excellent - but rather than that slow warming-up you get sometimes, as dancers overcome their nerves and settle in, this felt as though a different dancer had appeared! Having said that, I do agree with Varnatus that his panic attack in Act 2 was very convincing. It was such a shame because you had all these amazing ballerinas, Osipova, Lamb, Hayward (all brilliant in their roles) who looked as though they were dancing in a vacuum.  My favourite scene was between Mary and Larisch with the cards because both the women played off each other so well. I hope Hirano is like Cope - the first time I saw him it felt exactly like this performance - somehow without a centre - but when Mayerling was next revived he was sensational.

 

As for Matthew, nothing really to add - it was just for me a genuine triumph. As well as the acting feeling so real, he danced so beautifully (and you don't always get that combination!). I'm sure this will only be one amazing highlight in what must surely be an incredible career. He really does have it all. The whole cast gelled so well around him and I really liked Natalie Harrison as the Empress. Do hope Elizabeth Harrod has no after effects - I hear myself blithely saying in the interval that dropping her didn't matter in the context if what was happening in the scene, while managing to forget completely that there was a person on the receiving end who might have a few sore bruises this morning!  Congratulations to everyone for a wonderful night.

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35 minutes ago, bridiem said:

OK, so now I am even more upset that I had to miss last night through illness.

Very sorry to hear that.

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Fascinating comments and reviews! Thank you all for the wide range of opinions and historical detail. How lucky we are to have so many dancers able to fulfil the many roles in Mayerling. I still feel lucky to have seen Hirano but wish I had seen more interpretations!

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The word natural so brilliantly describes Matthew, Capybara.  He has a freshness to him that makes his dancing seem as if he has never done it before.  A wonderful talent.

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20 hours ago, Mummykool said:

The Hirano we saw last night was nothing like the Hirano we saw in opening night and who garnered such tepid reviews. It has been interesting to watch how his characterisation has grown and how the whole cast seem to have gelled together.

 

I know the focus is shifting to last night's performance, but I was too busy yesterday to put this together. So, sorry to muddy the water...

 

There were two narratives playing out on stage on Friday night; the self-contained story of the descent of Rudolf, as portrayed by Hirano over the three  acts of Mayerling, and the on-going story of the evolution of Hirano's interpretation of that role. Both made for fascinating and rewarding viewing.

 

I was captivated by Friday's performance; the whole ensemble of characters seemed to mesh together like the well-oiled cogs of some fantastical, story-telling contraption. Nothing seemed forced or out of place - the unfolding of the story, and the unravelling of the various characters just 'flowed'. The whole cast seemed at ease with their roles, confident in their own delivery and trusting in the contribution of the others to that delivery. The whole became greater than the sum of its parts, and given that some of those parts were superb, the overall effect was incredible. All the pieces of the jigsaw were there, they all fitted together seamlessly, and the vista revealed was awesome.

 

The power on show from Hirano during the Act 1 PDD with Hayward was as impressive as before, but on Friday it was used to create less of a brutal monologue, less of a straightforward thuggish assault. The physical energy seemed to pass from Hirano to Hayward and back again; to and fro, like waves breaking on a beach, with the beach resisting the waves' retreat. I can't remember the last time I saw this exchange of energy being so 'fluid' in this PDD, and much of that must be down to Hayward's absolute trust in Hirano as a partner. OK, the 'cocked-leg lift' (I'm sure there's a technical term for it!) was telegraphed a bit, but the way he brought her back down to the stage seemed to push at the limits of what is physically possible and made me catch my breath (just how close did her head get to the stage?).
The overall effect was heartbreaking; the depiction of Stephanie's predicament, and her attempts to deal with it, certainly passed what might be called the Well Test - my eyes were certainly welling-up by the end of their PDD.

 

This is in contrast to their first outing, where everything seem much more mechanical; then, the focus seemed to be more on the mechanics of delivering the performance rather than on the story told by that performance. I guess the experience of repeated performance brought with it a cascade of improvements: an increasing sense of trust and confidence between partners; greater opportunity to develop the 'acting' side of the choreography; more expressive on-stage 'conversations' related through movement and expression; greater audience empathy and satisfaction.

 

To feel empathy with the on-stage characters, those characters need to fire up our 'mirror neurones' - we need to be able to put ourselves in their position in order to feel their emotions; and the richer and more coherent the information we are provided with, the greater that will be. Well, all I can say is my brain (which perhaps is not as discriminating as others!) was fizzing and popping like the firework display; I felt totally immersed in and convinced by the unfolding story.

 

That culminated, of course, in the final PDD. I felt the desperate anguish on display, that this was the only course of action open to them, but also the relief, almost joy, that they were embarking on it together - with a commitment to each other that had started in the final embrace of the Act 2 PDD and sealed in the PDD in his bedroom after Larisch had left. I was totally convinced by the narrative arc and welled up yet again!

 

Sarah Lamb, once again, gave her own unique and incredibly effective reading of Larisch; she was embedded within the story, but at the same time seemed also to be relaying to us, the audience, her role in its development and realisation. This she did by breaking the fourth wall (her staring at us during the wedding ball procession, and the way she interacted with us during the card reading scene). Given that the real Larisch published her memoirs, I wonder if Sarah is deliberately adopting some sort of 'autobiographical stance' where she is both narrator and subject? Was she literally 'playing it by the book'?

 

The depth of characterisation was evident throughout. One that caught my eye was when two of the whores were brought over to Stephanie by Rudolf; one of them elbowed Stephanie in the ribs as if to say 'this is our patch and we play by different rules here!' 

 

A couple of other observations might be worth mentioning. In the final PDD, Osipova, unlike the other Marys I have seen, reaches and holds Rudolf just as he dismisses Bratfisch - almost as if she is affirming and supporting his action. And, once more, she crossed the stage to prostrate herself in front of Rudolf on her knees - 'ugly', though I swear she did it in time to the music! Finally, you cannot fault Hirano for effort; two bloodied knees and one bloodied elbow.

 

Although I left the ROH buzzing, and to some extent still am, part of me (the greedy part!) wishes this cast were down for four performances rather than three...

Or maybe five...

Etc...

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I saw Friday and Saturday's performances and the difference in the casts was indeed fascinating, both Rudolf's very new to the role and Matthew Ball also not having had much time to learn it, his Rudolf was more sympathetic, less of a monster, thought he brought out the drug addict effects very well, whilst Ryoichi Hirano was more of a psychopath, with very frightening and violent depths. I was amazed they were both so good so soon, imagine them in 5 years time!

Last night was scary to watch, as others have said, the pdd with Elizabeth Harrod had a few slips, the final Mary/Rudolf pdd also, but this made the reckless, desperate situations very real, both girls really let rip, like in the 1978 documentary when Kenneth Macmillan says to Lynn Seymour something like "let go, risk breaking your head" , he was such an innovator!

 

 

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35 minutes ago, Beryl H said:

like in the 1978 documentary when Kenneth Macmillan says to Lynn Seymour something like "let go, risk breaking your head" , he was such an innovator!

 

 

 

Reading your quote, Beryl, made me think of Balanchine's quip:  'Our boys don't fight'.    A different kind of genius certainly.  

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48 minutes ago, Beryl H said:

Last night was scary to watch, as others have said, the pdd with Elizabeth Harrod had a few slips, the final Mary/Rudolf pdd also, but this made the reckless, desperate situations very real, both girls really let rip, like in the 1978 documentary when Kenneth Macmillan says to Lynn Seymour something like "let go, risk breaking your head" , he was such an innovator!

 

I can think of some other words for someone urging a dancer to do that!!

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1 minute ago, bridiem said:

 

I can think of some other words for someone urging a dancer to do that!!

I do agree.

 

I know it's all meant to be 'dangerous' etc. But I would really rather not watch dancers being thrown to the ground.

 

 

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42 minutes ago, Mary said:

I do agree.

 

I know it's all meant to be 'dangerous' etc. But I would really rather not watch dancers being thrown to the ground.

 

Well I hope that the dancers' talents are so huge and their judgement so good that they're not REALLY risking breaking their heads... though it does sometimes look rather as if they are.

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That was one of the many reasons Irek was so wonderful! You could watch all the flinging and throwing in the knowledge that the ballerinas were totally safe. A bit of stage danger without real danger so to speak!

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20 hours ago, MissMonk said:

I didn't quite get the Hungarian officers. I saw the cinema relay and i found them very disrespectful. Isn't that their prince? Should they really be literally pushing and pulling him around? They seemed very hostile for even being friends. (this is a comment on the characters not the dancing which was wonderful)

 

Well, they were maybe also Rudolphs friends but first of all they had a greater goal in mind (which they had in common with Rudolph). And since Rudolph is very occupied with other things in this ballett (all the women, drugs, his death wishes etc.) they probably thought he needed a few strong reminders of this. He was an important ally to them and they needed to keep him on track. I guess sometimes their patience wasn´t really the best!

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5 hours ago, Nogoat said:

I guess the experience of repeated performance brought with it a cascade of improvements

This poses is a bit of a dilemma for future ballets, when a new cast/pairing, or indeed a new production run, is coming up - whether to go for the excitement and novelity of the first night, or wait for things to bed in and go later on. 

Edited by Richard LH
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47 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

This poses is a bit of a dilemma for future ballets, when a new cast/pairing, or indeed a new production run, is coming up - whether to go for the excitement and novelity of the first night, or wait for things to bed in and go later on. 

I find this to be a constant problem, personally.  The best performances I see tend to be later in the run, so I always think I should just book those.  But there have been so many times where I've planned to see just one performance of a particular cast and gone to their first show, and then been so blown away I book their remaining performances.. which you can't do if you go to the later shows.

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16 minutes ago, miriskusnik said:

 But there have been so many times where I've planned to see just one performance of a particular cast and gone to their first show, and then been so blown away I book their remaining performances..

This was my experience the new Swan Lake....the only problem being the accumulating costs of repeat performances with  Nunez and Takada!

I suppose the risk is going to a first night that turns out to a bit disappointing e.g. what some feel about Hirano's Mayerling debut.  It could mean further disappointment if it  caused you then to miss what seem to have been much improved later performances.

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1 hour ago, Richard LH said:

This poses is a bit of a dilemma for future ballets, when a new cast/pairing, or indeed a new production run, is coming up - whether to go for the excitement and novelity of the first night, or wait for things to bed in and go later on. 

 

No dilemma for me in this particular case: I'd bought a (relatively) expensive and not particularly good amphi seat because it was first night and Watson/Osipova and I hadn't been able to get anything else and wasn't going to miss any more Watson performances :( , compared with good standing tickets for the other two.  Once the cast change was announced, I decided to give Hirano time to "bed in" and dumped the first-night ticket.  (Mind you, for Watson's first run I'd equally decided to wait until his third performance - until I saw that fantastic insight evening in the Linbury, after which I decided I needed to be there at his debut too)

 

But yes, I agree with you generally: I've tended to go for the "bed in" approach where that's appropriate, but have sometimes ended up regretting missing someone's debut when it's turned out to be quite special, by all accounts.

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I do hope that Matthew Ball is given scheduled performances for the next Mayerling run, whenever that may be. I’m excited to see how he could build on the two performances of this season. In my view at least, he’s certainly earned it. 

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Back from the encore performance and a few thoughts.  I hadn't booked for this cast in the theatre and was very much wanting to see Laura Morera’s Larisch, as well as the entire cast in light of the many complimentary posts.  

 

In Act 1 I thought there was a real magnetism about Steven McRae’s Rudolf, how he bewitches Anna Rose O’Sullivan’s Louise and Larisch’s recollection of her passion for him.  I do like Kristen McNally’s Elisabeth and her scene with Rudolf I find very touching - her departing kiss on the forehead is almost a ‘go and do your duty’ with her no doubt reflecting on how she has remained the Empress, loyal throughout to her husband and the Hapsburg Empire, despite the affairs of both which were so poignantly depicted in Act 2.

 

I enjoyed Meaghan Grace Hinkis as Stephanie and Mayara Magri’s sensual Mitzi.  I thought James Hay’s Bratfisch one of the most moving portrayals of grief I’ve seen.  There’s much talk (quite rightly) of Matthew Ball, Cesar Corrales, Marcelino Sambé etc but James Hay really is a fine dancer.

 

Turning to the three main characters, I thought Lara Morera tremendous.  It's so good to have her back on stage giving such performances - everything about her Larisch seemed right to me, such a fabulous dancer and so characterful.  It’s also great to have Steven McRae fully recovered - there’s a wonderful sense of ease as regards his technical excellence and I never think he might be in trouble.  I prefer other Rudolfs’ depth of characterisation - there’s a bit too much snarl for me and I think others show greater despair.  I did enjoy Sarah Lamb’s Mary and she and Steven McRae seemed very well matched technically.  I’m sorry if that comes across as feint praise - it’s great to see such accomplished dancing of such demanding roles but I think I also want to see that raw abandon that others have brought.

 

A couple of points about the cinema relay.  I very much enjoyed the studio rehearsals with Leane Benjamin and the interviews.  One or two camera choices seemed a bit odd to me - we almost missed Elisabeth’s dismissal of Larisch, and I don't think a close up of Rudolf and Mary at the end was sensible when (not surprisingly) you could see them pretty much gasping for breath.  During the fireworks the wall lights on the left seemed to have a mind of their own and Elisabeth/Bay were in the dark at one stage - I missed Gary Avis as Bay but even he would have been challenged to dance both Frank-Josef and Bay.

 

I feel slightly disappointed that some Principals are dancing both Mary and Larisch, the two best roles for women, when there are others who are not given a chance to dance either role, particularly the number of dancers who I'd love to see debuting as Mary.  I’d got the impression that this Mayerling revival was going to give more opportunities for debuts and that some dancers would therefore not be reprising their May 2017 roles.  Whilst there have been some debuts (and the most notable debut was of course unplanned), I’d have liked to see more. That said I'm delighted to have seen Laura Morera's Larisch and look forward to her Mary on 30 October.

 

 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, JohnS said:

It’s also great to have Steven McRae fully recovered - there’s a wonderful sense of ease as regards his technical excellence and I never think he might be in trouble.  I prefer other Rudolfs’ depth of characterisation - there’s a bit too much snarl for me and I think others show greater despair.  I did enjoy Sarah Lamb’s Mary and she and Steven McRae seemed very well matched technically.  I’m sorry if that comes across as feint praise - it’s great to see such accomplished dancing of such demanding roles but I think I also want to see that raw abandon that others have brought.

 

A very interesting review JohnS thank you, I agree with so much of what you say especially about Morera's great performance, and the poor camera choices at times.

 

You've made me realise I really prefer the wonderful sense of ease, technical excellence, accomplished dancing, to the raw abandon and deep despair.

I appreciate that puts me in a very small minority, but there you go! Thanks for crystallising my own thoughts. 

 

(But I hope it isn't faint praise to praise technical excellence. )

 

It's been a fascinating thread so far hasn't it.

 

 

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