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The Royal Ballet: Mayerling, London, April/May 2017

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Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the dress rehearsal of the opening night cast (opens on 28th April). Here are a few photos:


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Francesca Hayward, Edward Watson
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


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Sarah Lamb, Zenaida Yanowsky
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


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Edward Watson, Natalia Osipova
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

See more...

Set from DanceTabs - RB: Mayerling
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


By kind permission of the Royal Opera House

 

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I've started a new thread, as the other one seems to have meandered off topic...

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Thanks, Dave.  I was expecting a different set of pictures, but hey, who cares?

 

I hope everyone who's going enjoys it.

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9 hours ago, alison said:

I was expecting a different set of pictures,

 

Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically...

 

:P

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49 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically...

Nice one!

 

Wonderful pictures

49 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

:P

 

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Well, tonight more than lived up to all the hype and promise.  A wonderful debut from Miss Osipova, and Ed Watson....wow.  I loved it.  More tomorrow as I need a glass of wine to chill out with now!  

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Well, it was terrific.  Everything I expected and more.  Such a cornucopia of riches it's difficult to comment, but...

 

A fabulous debut from Francesca Hayward who made me fear for her.  Ryochi such a strond presence oozing physicality, and Zenaida every inch a queen.  Alexander Campbell stunning.

 

Osipova  was wonderful but I felt she is still feeling her way in to the part and has more to give.  I  thought that this was a role where she could let all that nervous energy explode.  The interesting thing for me was that she changed the dynamic with Edward Watson.  For the first time I saw a woman who I could readily believe was as licentious and morally bankrupt as Rudolf and could match him 'drink for drink.'

 

wonderful, totally wonderful.  Roll onMay 2 and 11.  Hope others will report back on alternative Rudolf.

 

ooh, and Edward, you are simply the best.

Edited by penelopesimpson
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Indeed. Campbell was just perfect as Bratfisch- and very on form tonight. He emanated a sort of puzzled energy- brilliant.

 

I really enjoyed a lot of details in this very finely acted performance by a stellar cast, such as the beautiful pas de deux between Yanowsky- regally elegant but conveying fallibility- and Gary Avis-the cheery man-of-the-world: never before have I felt the emotion in that moment so much; they and Bratfisch trying hopelessly to entertain the mad lovers seemed to embody happy moments of normality trying in vain to communicate with the doomed and corrupt main characters, who were unable to hear them as they continued on their hellish path !

 

Of course Watson was superb and gave it everything. It was almost painful to watch his torment. He made clever use of moments of stillness that really heightened the effect.  Osipova seemed to me very at home in the role and her reckless energy was palpable.

And still more- an excellent debut from Hayward, wringing much emotion from every moment.

 

I confess it is a ballet I like less as I get older,,,but the performances really were amazing. It was so intense, and the atmosphere in the house electric.

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It wasn't Hayward's debut - she performed the role last time around, too.

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4 minutes ago, alison said:

It wasn't Hayward's debut - she performed the role last time around, too.

Sorry, my mistake.  And yes, there was do much detail brought out by this wonderful cast.  Yanowsky's spurning of her son, his torture and cynicism when he finds her with her lover.  And as another poster described, his stillness standing to one sid of the stage still caught the eye.

 

i like this ballet more and more with the passing years!

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26 minutes ago, Mary said:

I confess it is a ballet I like less as I get older,,,but the performances really were amazing. It was so intense, and the atmosphere in the house electric.

 

So, how did it rank compared with the first night last time round, which was one of those "you just had to be there" moments?

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Honestly not sure.  Last time around I was so blown away and the rest of the house seemed to feel the same.  Tonight was as good, I think. But not the same sense of awe as last time.  Watson seems more able to take it in his stride and didn't look as shattered as three years ago when he seemed hardly able to stand.

 

but if there is a change , I think it is in me, rather than the performance.  I went with a friend new to Mayerling and she was speechless in wonder.

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14 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

Watson seems more able to take it in his stride and didn't look as shattered as three years ago when he seemed hardly able to stand.

 

I think for "hardly able to stand" the third performance of his debut run probably takes the biscuit.  I said I really felt he didn't have a drop left in the tank for that one.

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I think Watson has definitely learned that he needs to pace himself to survive a Mayerling,  perhaps even holding a bit too much back at the beginning.

 

It was a wonderful cast, though I'm not sure that all the fantastic individual performances added up to a transcending whole yet.

 

 

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In the sense of intensity of focus, committed performance that draw the audience in and make them forget eveyrthing except what is having on stage- even their coughs and their phones- so that time hangs suspended.....I think it was surely as good as before and as good as any Mayerling I have seen.

 

My own personal feelings about the ballet itself- its themes and tone- are separate, but, of course hard for me to disentangle.

 

 

 

 

.

 

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6 hours ago, penelopesimpson said:

Honestly not sure.  Last time around I was so blown away and the rest of the house seemed to feel the same.  Tonight was as good, I think. But not the same sense of awe as last time.  Watson seems more able to take it in his stride and didn't look as shattered as three years ago when he seemed hardly able to stand.

 

but if there is a change , I think it is in me, rather than the performance.  I went with a friend new to Mayerling and she was speechless in wonder.

Likewise here. First time I saw it I was really blown away. Not anymore now this was 3rd time I've seen a Watson  cast. I think I see it now for what it is.... Quite a lot of violent throwing around rather than ballet, a jumpy indistinct narrative, and I find the choreography messy and repetitive. I'm not a fan of the tarts at all and I feel sorry for the corps as there not much for them at all apart from those tarts and they feel like they are just add ons for the sake because MacMillan *had* to include them they're superfluous really which is a shame. Don't get me wrong I admire the dancers for their performances but overall this was not a patch after the treat we've just had in Jewels. I'll be interested to see a different cast on 13th, but at this moment in time it's not a prospect filling me with anticipation. There were some major costume malfunctions which ruined the pdd in Act1 between Rudolph and Louise. How this wasn't ironed out in rehearsal is a mystery, that dress was just too long and too many catchy bits. I hope the scissors are out as I write! 

I was very happy to see Zenaida Yanowsky live for my last time. I shall mourn her retirement especially in Month in the Country.   Alexander Campbell was superb as Bratfisch...I recall he danced this equally brilliantly with Alina Cojacaru and Johann Kobborg at Russian Icons last year too. It was lovely to see Johannes Stepanek too as I have seen him for a while. Francesca Hayward was excellent I liked that I could really see her emotions as the unwanted wife. Watson gave his all. 

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I thought it was magnificent. I think the only difference with Watson is that he is now absolutely and totally in control of and on top of what he is doing, and he knows he can do it. So although he is clearly drained at the end, he's also happy and proud and knows he has delivered what he was aiming for. Brilliant; what a privilege to see him dance the role for which all the rest of his career seems like only a preparation; the role he was born to dance.

 

I was struck this time by the vortex that the ballet creates. The turning, spinning, crazed vortex, both institutional and personal, expressed so cleverly in the choreography. Each of Rudolf's relationships helps to push his own vortex that bit more out of kilter, and in the end he encounters someone who is willing to join him at the centre of his being and let the vortex take over. Thrilling performance from Osipova - lust both physical and emotional, violently expressed.

 

And superb performances all through the cast. Campbell incredible as Bratfisch - technically astounding but also profoundly moving as he sees Rudolf - and Mary - descend together into hell. Hayward a wonderful Stephanie - Rudolf's bewildered, abused plaything who tries to please, tries to conform, but also tries (unsuccessfully) to stand her ground. Yanowskly the happiest Empress I have seen - so clearly in love with 'Bay' Middleton (Gary Avis as usual able to create a complete character out of very little) and so unable, and unwilling, to respond to her desperate son. And Lamb an excellent Larisch, not just scheming but also still in love with Rudolf and closing her eyes to the damage she is doing. Nunez a very warm and authoritative Mitzi Caspar. I also thought that Hirano was an exceptional Hungarian Officer - really soaring through the air and conveying the thrill and danger of revolution.

 

The only negative was an unfortunate costume issue for Romany Pajdak as Princess Louise. It did make me wonder how much rehearsal time the dancers get in their costumes. But she coped as well as she could with it, and Watson was clearly helpful to her too.

 

Thanks to all the dancers for a great performance.

Edited by bridiem
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5 minutes ago, Don Q Fan said:

Likewise here. First time I saw it I was really blown away. Not anymore now this was 3rd time I've seen a Watson  cast. I think I see it now for what it is.... Quite a lot of violent throwing around rather than ballet, a jumpy indistinct narrative, and I find the choreography messy and repetitive. I'm not a fan of the tarts at all and I feel sorry for the corps as there not much for them at all apart from those tarts and they feel like they are just add ons for the sake because MacMillan *had* to include them they're superfluous really which is a shame. Don't get me wrong I admire the dancers for their performances but overall this was not a patch after the treat we've just had in Jewels. I'll be interested to see a different cast on 13th, but at this moment in time it's not a prospect filling me with anticipation. There were some major costume malfunctions which ruined the pdd in Act1 between Rudolph and Louise. How this wasn't ironed out in rehearsal is a mystery, that dress was just too long and too many catchy bits. I hope the scissors are out as I write! 

I was very happy to see Zenaida Yanowsky live for my last time. I shall mourn her retirement especially in Month in the Country.   Alexander Campbell was superb as Bratfisch...I recall he danced this equally brilliantly with Alina Cojacaru and Johann Kobborg at Russian Icons last year too. It was lovely to see Johannes Stepanek too as I have seen him for a while. Francesca Hayward was excellent I liked that I could really see her emotions as the unwanted wife. Watson gave his all. 

 

Have to agree that-after seeing so much 'Beauty' and so many 'Jewels' this choreography left me unsatisfied, and I also entirely agree about the tarts scenes and that there isn't enouhg dancing ( apart from spectacular pas de deuxs.)

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3 minutes ago, Mary said:

 

 

 

Have to agree that-after seeing so much 'Beauty' and so many 'Jewels' this choreography left me unsatisfied, and I also entirely agree about the tarts scenes and that there isn't enouhg dancing ( apart from spectacular pas de deuxs.)

 

I find every moment absorbing, whether or not it's dancing. The walking, the looking, the various interactions, the inexorable building of tension in the music, all create a hugely powerful theatrical whole.

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25 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

I find every moment absorbing, whether or not it's dancing. The walking, the looking, the various interactions, the inexorable building of tension in the music, all create a hugely powerful theatrical whole.

 

Agree-in terms of ACTING it was superb and the RB dancers were absolutely stunning-every single one was convincing dramatically, as your review so eloquently describes bridiem- I agree totally.  (Sarah Lamb not mentioned yet- her acting was brilliant too!)

.

But  in terms of dancing, of a choreographic rather than dramatic whole, I do find the piece less satisfying. It is about the style of the piece. This style has become the very popluar and succcesful model for British dramatic ballet so there is v little point my taking issue with it! But it is my personal view.

 

Look forward to reading others' impressions.

 

 

 

 

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I was so excited about seeing Mayerling for the first time and despite the stellar cast it didn't move me and I'm trying to think of why. Although the characters are interesting I didn't really care what happened to them. Also the music wasn't memorable to me and I only noticed it being beautiful in a soaring moment of the final pdd. 

 

One of the highlights was Watson and Hayward's pdd and it made me hope they're paired for Manon again as I didn't see it last time. They were never just dancing, they were acting at every moment. Campbells solos were another highlight. Such assured technique and so much character. 

 

I'm pleased to read a couple of comments on twitter from people who were also unmoved amongst the rapturous ones, otherwise I'd worry that I'm dead inside!

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Yes, I forgot to mention the costume problem.  It was really awful.  Watson didn't pick it up straight away and I could see the look of fear on her face, but then he realised what was happening and she disentangled and all went smoothly on.  I doubt that more than 10% of the audience got it and my friend asked me in the interval if it was meant to happen.  I, too, though wondered why - it was clear that the bustle on the back of her skirt was too long and I really felt for her.  Could have been really nasty.

 

Love hearing everybody's points of view - even if I am in violent disagreement.  The more I see this ballet the more I find to absorb me and ponder on.  Once one is happy with the central narrative, there are so many lovely little details that begin to come out.  I couldn't disagree more that the choreography is just throwing people about.  I find it beautiful, exquisitely moving and painful much of the time, and ultimately challenging.  It  may not offer a great deal for the corps but there are so many important roles in the storyline.  

 

I came late to Jewels and love it but it will never move me in the way that Mayerling does and that, primarily is what I want from a ballet rather than simply a tour de force of technique.  Can't wait for my next fix!

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2 hours ago, bridiem said:

I thought it was magnificent. I think the only difference with Watson is that he is now absolutely and totally in control of and on top of what he is doing, and he knows he can do it. So although he is clearly drained at the end, he's also happy and proud and knows he has delivered what he was aiming for. Brilliant; what a privilege to see him dance the role for which all the rest of his career seems like only a preparation; the role he was born to dance.

 

I was struck this time by the vortex that the ballet creates. The turning, spinning, crazed vortex, both institutional and personal, expressed so cleverly in the choreography. Each of Rudolf's relationships helps to push his own vortex that bit more out of kilter, and in the end he encounters someone who is willing to join him at the centre of his being and let the vortex take over. Thrilling performance from Osipova - lust both physical and emotional, violently expressed.

 

And superb performances all through the cast. Campbell incredible as Bratfisch - technically astounding but also profoundly moving as he sees Rudolf - and Mary - descend together into hell. Hayward a wonderful Stephanie - Rudolf's bewildered, abused plaything who tries to please, tries to conform, but also tries (unsuccessfully) to stand her ground. Yanowskly the happiest Empress I have seen - so clearly in love with 'Bay' Middleton (Gary Avis as usual able to create a complete character out of very little) and so unable, and unwilling, to respond to her desperate son. And Lamb an excellent Larisch, not just scheming but also still in love with Rudolf and closing her eyes to the damage she is doing. Nunez a very warm and authoritative Mitzi Caspar. I also thought that Hirano was an exceptional Hungarian Officer - really soaring through the air and conveying the thrill and danger of revolution.

 

The only negative was an unfortunate costume issue for Romany Pajdak as Princess Louise. It did make me wonder how much rehearsal time the dancers get in their costumes. But she coped as well as she could with it, and Watson was clearly helpful to her too.

 

Thanks to all the dancers for a great performance.

May I just say that your post eloquently describes my reaction.  Watson IS Rudolf.

 

I also noticed Hirano with fresh eyes.  He exudes physicality and looked stunning last night.

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I can understand why some people don't like this ballet, but I personally do.  Very much.  I recently found a letter to me from my late father, who was living in NY at the time (early 80s).  He was a balletomane (a very conservative one!) and the letter was describing the RB's recent visit to NY with a new ballet called Mayerling...and much to his surprise he loved it, and went to see it again.  He had never seen anything like it before.  

 

Back to last night....I thought Osipova's debut was excellent.  I had been a bit worried that she would be over-dramatic, or veer too far from what my perception of MV's character should be, but her interpretation was very well nuanced, and I could really follow the different stages of MV as a developing character.  The clarity with which she morphed from being a giggly, infatuated teenager to a sexy young woman playing violent games to get her man and keep him, to a young lady who really, ultimately, cares for Rudolf and can empathise with all of his demons as she would seem to have some herself....I found all of this very impressive.  Her dancing is wonderful too, but in MacMillan, for me, it is the dramatic interpretations which are so much more important.  Osipova scored very highly here....as did Ed Watson.  I have seen most of his Rudolfs since his debut, and it has been very interesting to see how his portrayal has changed.  He has now 'mellowed with age' and turned down the mania, and this makes Rudolf a much more believable character.  He is still on fine physical form as well, and as this is probably his last run in this role, it is a great way for him to bow out.  

 

I can only echo what is said above about the other characters:  Zenaida Y. was once again a very moving Empress;  we could understand why Rudolf's despair at her rejection of him ran so deep, especially when he could see that she IS capable of love and affection...just not towards him.  She conveyed this dichotomy so very well.  Sarah Lamb has always been my favourite Larisch....she is the perfect combination of vamp, subject of courtly gossip and disdain and, most importantly, the only person in that court who deeply cares about Rudolf.  A truly wonderful and moving performance.  Alexander Campbell now has to be my favourite Bratfisch ever.  What fabulous dancing, and he really brought a lump to my throat as he plays this role almost like a Greek chorus, silently commenting on the moral and physical waste that he sees all around him.  Hayward as Stefanie really brought out the poor girl's terror, even from the very first scene in the bedroom;  we could see how much she was not looking forward to her wedding night, and she conveys the combination of fright and anger very convincingly.  A lovely Mitzi from Marianela Nunez, and Gary's presence onstage as Bay Middleton completed an excellent, bar-raising start to this run.  A mention from me too about Hirano's dancing - such wonderful turns and leaps, with landings that were so silent you wouldn't have known he had been in the air if you hadn't seen it.  

 

I am very rarely moved in the conventional sense at the end of this ballet, but I do always feel emotionally drained.  It isn't only Rudolf's story;  it is the sad story of the other characters as well, and the human decay portrayed via these morally bankrupt people, or their victims.  The only Rudolf who ever made me cry was Thiago Soares, who really got under Rudolf's skin (and mine) by making me see how he got to the depths to which he sank.  I will see tonight if that is still the case.  

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11 minutes ago, capybara said:

Thank you, Sim, for a review which has made me feel that i was there.

Seconded.  I experienced everything you described although I still think Osipova has more to give.  Campbell's performance went so far beyond his dancing; the way he saw what was happening and exerted himself more and more to distract Rudolf from the tragedy taking shape.  He combined a touch of comedy with pathos in a way that was so moving.

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41 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

Seconded.  I experienced everything you described although I still think Osipova has more to give.  Campbell's performance went so far beyond his dancing; the way he saw what was happening and exerted himself more and more to distract Rudolf from the tragedy taking shape.  He combined a touch of comedy with pathos in a way that was so moving.

I'm torn between writing on last night now whilst I'm still pondering or waiting until this evening when I'll also have seen the second cast with some interesting debuts.

 

Hoewever, I wish to second penelopesimpson's comment on Alexander Campbell. I really think he is one of the most valuable and remarkable artists in the company with an emotional openness and empathy that reads so beautifully. His technique seems to be getting better and better. Those chainé turns in the third act solo were simply dazzling and yet everything is always character led. He is one of those dancers who seems incapable of giving a bad or disinterested performance and in my experience has always been one who has enhanced my enjoyment and understanding of what I am watching.

 

Practical matters: the wardrobe malfunction was horrific and looked actually dangerous. At one point Edward Watson was actually holding up Romany Pajdak: it must have been an awful couple of minutes for her.

 

I thought that my mezzo-soprano sang absolutely beautifully and was delighted that she received two bouquets on stage (proud agent moment). She has sung in opera throughout the UK and in Europe and Australasia and tells me that she has found the work ethic of the dancers absolutely inspirational.

Edited by Jamesrhblack
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Hear, hear.

 

Alexander Campbell's expressive dancing made Bratfisch anew for me- his solos were like a beacon of sanity, the emotional heart of the ballet, and I agree that he cannot be too  highly praised for his performance.

It is such a joy getting to know the range of this marvellous dancer.

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18 minutes ago, Mary said:

Hear, hear.

 

Alexander Campbell's expressive dancing made Bratfisch anew for me- his solos were like a beacon of sanity, the emotional heart of the ballet, and I agree that he cannot be too  highly praised for his performance.

It is such a joy getting to know the range of this marvellous dancer.

 

And can he juggle?

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