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Stuttgart Ballet: Mayerling premiere, May 2019

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Fabulous insight event (“Ballet Talk”) this morning about the forthcoming premiere of Mayerling with Stuttgart Ballet.

Tamas Detrich spoke about why he chose to add Mayerling to the repertoire in Stuttgart – he’d seen the work performed by the Stanislavsky Ballet and was “blown away” by it, thought that the dramatic narrative would work well in Stuttgart with its history of three-act story ballets by John Cranko, and had been looking to get Juergen Rose involved.

Gerald Dowler talked about the creation of the work for the Royal Ballet in 1978 and its reception – in London and elsewhere - over time as well as about recurring focus areas in Kenneth MacMillan’s works. This was really useful to refresh my memory since I last saw Mayerling at the ROH but more importantly his description of MacMillan’s choreographic style made me think that I should really really really really go for a ticket for Mayerling as vivid images came to mind from a number of scenes throughout the ballet. I was probably sitting there with a permanent grin on my face throughout the event.

Mikhail Agrest, guest conductor with Stuttgart Ballet, described Lanchbery’s choice of music by Franz Liszt for Mayerling - theatrical, romantic, sweeping, music with a Hungarian touch, and he referred to a piece that Franz Liszt had written for Empress Elisabeth.

Juergen Rose gave a humorous account of how he needed convincing that he should take on the costume & set design for Mayerling and highlighted how instrumental Marcia Haydee was in ultimately achieving this. Equally entertaining was his description of the challenges that he encountered and the solutions that he identified with regards to the sourcing of the set as well as of the fabric for the costumes. So the carriage that they located in Styria is from the 1880s, and the furniture that they unearthed in an antiquity shop near Munich is from that time period, too. As for the costumes, he went with different colours for different roles so as to facilitate the identification of who is who within the ballet. The costume designs for the hunt scene in Act 3 have been inspired by pictures of Emperor Franz Joseph in lederhosen, and so some dancers wear lederhosen during that scene.

Tamas Detrich confirmed that there’ll be further performances of Mayerling next season. There is also an insight event planned for the end of the current season which will deal specifically with Rose’s costumes.

Rehearsal pictures on the company’s web site https://www.stuttgart-ballet.de/schedule/a-z/mayerling/

 

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Was all this in German, English, a mixture of both?

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It was in a mixture of both languages.

Detrich and Rose spoke mostly in German.

Vivien Arnold, Director of Communication with Stuttgart Ballet, interviewed Dowler and Agrest in English and translated their replies. 

 

The event - or part of it - was filmed. I hope it will be broadcast at some stage.

 

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It does - and the costumes and sets look gorgeous.  Thank you.

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On 17/05/2019 at 08:11, Angela said:

A short filmed report about Mayerling with scenes from the ballet and interviews with Jürgen Rose - I hope it works outside of Germany

https://www.swr.de/kunscht/ballett-mayerling-am-staatstheater-stuttgart/-/id=12539036/did=24061096/nid=12539036/hkseuz/index.html

 

Jürgen Rose, who is 81!, says in the interview that the workshops still look the same as 50-60 years ago when he started working with Cranko.

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Magnificent second ballet talk with Juergen Rose about MacMillan’s Mayerling this morning. While the first talk back in May covered a number of topics e.g., MacMillan’s choreographic style, the music and the set & costume design, this second event dealt specifically with the costumes for Mayerling.

From the 198 costumes for the ballet in total, around 20/25 costumes, 10 hats for the female characters and 10 hats/ helmets for the male characters as well as a number of costume drawings were on display. Rose referred to some of the items to detail aspects of sourcing the fabric, the millinery, the medals, the ornaments as well as the production of the costumes and medals. A few medals and items of cloth were passed round the audience so they could touch and feel them for themselves, and the audience was also able to see and study the costumes, hats and helmets on display up close at the end of the event.

Rose’s initial thought had been to go with just black and white for all costumes but then decided to add other shades so as to help the audience distinguish between the various characters. Based on everything that I’ve seen so far, the colour scheme still remains predominantly black / white/ shades of grey/ shades of red though, plus shades of green for the hunting party. Almost all of the 198 costumes are different, even if they are seen on stage for only a short period of time, such as those for the ballroom scene at the start of Act 1.

The costumes shown included ballroom dresses from the beginning of Act 1, the white jacket for Rudolph and the formal white dress for Stephanie in Act 1, the dress for Elisabeth in the PDD with Rudolph in Act 1, the hunting party in Act 3, the red coat and black nightdress underneath for Mary in Act 3, a dress for Sophie, etc.

The amount of work that Rose and the costume department at the State Theatre in Stuttgart have put into research, sourcing and production is immense, and the level of detail achieved is awe inspiring. Glittering little stones and borders applied on fabric; pleated fabric that create beautiful effects of light and shadow; costumes with a variety of lace, frills, ornamental trimmings, etc. Medals printed with a 3-D device so they look like the real thing but are light enough for dancing. Medals with specific details, depending on whether they are worn by a character from Austria or from Hungary, etc. etc. etc.

When I first read a number of months ago that there’d be new costumes for the performances of Mayerling by Stuttgart Ballet, I asked myself why this was necessary, why they wouldn’t just go with the original designs. The outcome, however, is hugely impressive.

The event was filmed, and I hope that it or parts thereof will be made available at some stage. Ideally though, I’d love to see a DVD or book with the costumes as they are just so stunning.

This ballet talk was also the final event of the current season for me. A wonderful add-on followed immediately afterwards, meeting jmb again following our initial meeting a little more than a week ago, and being able to discuss once more all things ballet as well as a number of other topics.

 

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A friend and I made the trip to Stuttgart to see the new production of Mayerling. 

 

I don’t know the Stuttgart company well although the opportunity to see the production and Friedemann Vogel in particular was a huge draw. 

 

It’s hard to find the words to add anything to the review of Gerald Dowler and the comments from Duck on the costumes. 

 

In short, my friend and I were simply blown away. 

 

The new production is triumph. It feels clutter free, somehow streamlined and clean and allows the choreography to shine in a way that the original production now does not seem to. The sets are beautiful in their simplicity and with very effective lighting create memorably striking images. The costumes are stunning, somehow of the period but at the same time modern and unfussy. To my eyes the ballet has been reinvigorated in a way that I could not have imagined possible before seeing it. 

 

Like the Royal Ballet, the German companies have something of a dance acting tradition so it’s not surprising they chose to acquire Mayerling and after barely a handful of performances it fits them like a glove. 

 

The company has talent in depth and we thought all the soloist performances were worthy. 

 

The highest praise to Elisa Badenes as Mary Vetsera but towering above all was the magnificent Friedemann Vogel. A superb actor (nothing overdone) , dancer and partner and with only a few performances in the role he turned in one of the very best I’ve ever seen. I’d return in a heartbeat. 

 

The entire Stuttgart audience gave a huge  standing ovation. 

 

Edited by alison
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I can only echo annamk's opinion. Having seen it twice the last Season and again on the 28th Sep opening the new Season, I thought the Company had time to Digest it and found the latest Performance intense and truly compelling. Not used to seeing Friedemann Vogel's perfect line dissolve into a drunken stagger, but the expressiveness from start to finish was Wonderful. 

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I was there last Saturday, too. I’d then been hoping against hope that there’d be a suitable return ticket for tonight and so been holding off my thoughts on last Saturday ... no such luck though ...

Those highly complex and challenging PDD for Rudolph and his various partners looked unbelievably fluid. I found Elisa Badenes in the role of Mary Vetsera incredibly convincing in her falling for Rudolph, being eager and ready to go with him all the way, and I was very impressed with Diana Ionescu in the role of Princess Stephanie, both assured and fearless in her dancing in the PDD at the end of Act 1 and equipped with great acting skills.

I’d been watching the DVD with the Watson/ Galeazzi cast a couple of times in recent weeks to get back into the story, and so I noticed the odd minor difference in staging and/ or interpretation. E.g., on the DVD, the curtain comes down at the end of Act 1 just after Rudolph rips his shirt open and gets onto the bed – last Saturday saw events on the bed going on for a bit longer before curtain down. When Rudolph accidentally shoots someone during the hunt in Act 3, Watson’s Rudolph takes his hat off and stares into the void before he leaves the stage whereas Vogel’s Rudolph takes his hat off, briefly looks at the deceased person and just walks off. Equally, when Rudolph and Mary head behind the screen, Edward Watson and Mara Galeazzi walk there together whereas Vogel’s Rudolph leads Mary, holding her hand, she following him. Finally, Mary on the DVD lies neatly on the bed, her arms holding flowers. Mary last Saturday was spread out as if this was the position in which she'd been shot. These subtle differences in combination with what I’ve taken as emotional distance of Vogel’s Rudolph at the start of Act 1 depict a different Rudolph compared to Edward Watson’s interpretation in my view – being in less emotional turmoil at the start, instead more aloof, cold, controlled elegance (I need to admit that, while I saw the Watson/ Galeazzi cast a total of four times in 2009 & 2013, I didn't attend any performances of the other casts back then so there may well have been similar minor differences). I found the difference in interpretation very interesting and hope I’ll be able to see the other two casts as to how they portray Rudolph.

Thunderous applause for Friedemann Vogel, I missed the standing ovation from where I was sitting in the balcony as I was so much focussed on those on stage, admiring the costumes at the curtain calls.

A fabulous performance at any time of the season but even more so as the company had only just been back from their summer break for two and a half weeks.

It took me a while to cool down emotionally after the performance, and I spent a good part of last Sunday thinking about what I’d seen the night before. I won’t be around for the upcoming performances of cast 2 and 3, and I am hoping I’ll be lucky to get tickets for further performances in spring next year.

The programme booklet lists Edward Watson as coach and Karl Burnett and Grant Coyle as choreologists. I’d drawn a family/ friends tree of those in the ballet as preparation for last Saturday and thus found a section with biographies of the key personalities in Mayerling very useful. The booklet also includes an article about Rudolph’s political beliefs which I found instrumental in understanding events involving the Hungarian officers and Prime Minister Taaffe better than previously. There are also a number of historic pictures of those involved plus lots of stage pictures and costume drawings.

There is a trailer now on the production site, in addition to the various rehearsal and stage pictures https://www.stuttgart-ballet.de/schedule/calendar/mayerling/1043/

And yes, I am also hoping for a DVD of this production.

Edited by Duck
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3 hours ago, Duck said:

The programme booklet lists Edward Watson as coach

 

Good to know he's doing something while being underused on stage.

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Thanks so much for your review and the link, Duck.  I too hope for a DVD!!  

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