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Mayerling, Royal Ballet Autumn 2022


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32 minutes ago, Jake said:

Was disappointed to find that the quality of the filming hadn’t improved with the lighting from the ROH as poor as ever. Had we not been familiar with Mayerling we would have had no idea what was happening in the first burial scene and the second wasn’t much better. Many other details were also hard to make out, a pity when the admission isn’t cheap. Still, Petroc Trelawny’s fluent, informed and professional hosting was a pleasant change.  

Yes the lighting was really bad, even worse than usual I thought- I did think I’m pleased I’m so familiar with it. My local charges £22 so it would nice to be able to see all the scenes 😂

 

100% agree re the presenter, he was very good. 

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7 minutes ago, Henry said:

Small question what happened to his beard?  Why did he shave for Act III (only a moustache)??  I don't remember this happening before.

 

I think this is standard: is it an indication that time has passed?

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On the question of lighting.  This is a common problem with stage to screen productions.  What seems shadowy in the theatre looks too dark on screen.  Sorry - it's the technology.  

 

Glyndebourne are better advised and adjust the lighting before videoing their productions.  

 

 

 

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Various rather random thoughts after this performance:

  • what an amazing ballet this is. The music drives it on at a relentless pace and the choreography reflects the colours and shapes of the music so that as a work it's indivisible. A reckless, threatening, despairing and hugely powerful creation, and visually spectacular
  • tremendous performances from Francesca Hayward (Stephanie), Laura Morera (Larisch) and Natalia Osipova (Mary Vetsera) - totally immersed in their characters and incredibly physically and emotionally daring
  • I found Ryoichi Hirano too expressionless in the early scenes, so that you couldn't really read what he was thinking (at least from the Amphi - but I was in the front row and had an excellent view, and I was using opera glasses). That made his subsequent disintegration a bit difficult to fathom, but it was nevertheless pretty horrible to watch (especially the PDD with Stephanie) and there were times when it was very moving. The PDD with Osipova were passionate but I didn't feel they were completely secure and as has been said one of the lifts in the bedroom PDD just didn't happen. That left me a bit worried about subsequent lifts, but there were no further real mishaps and the last scenes were excellent
  • I can't imagine what logistics led to the decision to broadcast the first performance live - that was surely asking for trouble, and it came in the form of the misfiring gun and costume caught on chair. I haven't seen either of those things happen before so they must have been first night teething problems, but it's a shame they went out live
  • Gary Avis once again proved that even in a small role (Bay Middleton) he dominates the stage, dances beautifully, partners strongly, and portrays characters so convincingly that they feel completely real and fully fleshed out. Such an exceptional talent
  • the four Hungarian officers (Clarke, Dixon, Edmonds and Richardson) were superb, and the choreography for them is thrilling
  • the orchestra were on fine form and seemed so LOUD! Magnificent
  • But one of the most powerful moments in the whole ballet was after Rudolf had accidentally shot the courtier in Act III - the complete, total silence as all on stage stood stock still looking at Rudolf, isolated and cowering at the side of the stage, with shocked and accusatory eyes. In that moment, you knew his end was near
  • why does the coffin not now get lowered into the grave??
  • I was glad that Kevin O'Hare spoke about the death of the late Queen before the performance followed by orchestra playing the national anthem
  • the company as a whole looked in fine fettle and it's good to have them back!
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13 hours ago, Sim said:

 "It took about ten months to get it right" remembers Wall. "Kenneth made us all go away and read books on the subject. The facts seemed to change from book to book, and I felt quite lost. It wasn't until I read a chapter on Rudolf's childhood that I suddenly clocked on to how this person might have developed: the fact that he was marched around in the snow at 6.00 in the morning at the age of 6, and shot at, and deprived of his mother's love and attention made me understand a lot about what happened to him.

 

This is enlightening. As we know, the absence of a balanced psychological foundation has lifelong implications. So, for example, poor parental attachment and an absence or withholding of love do have enormous implications for the child as an adult.

 

In the context of Mayerling, regardless of relationship status, any form of appreciation from an admirer is often like crack cocaine. Perhaps the only defence against it is an understanding of the dynamic at work, and for that you do have to be open.

 

So, as I understand it, Rudolph wasn't aware and, as likely an essentially good person, the frustration of his susceptibly drove him towards madness.

 

Interestingly, had he lived another 10 years or so he might have been helped by a psychoanalyst by the name of Dr Freud who was, in this period developing new ideas on these matter, in the same city and just a few streets away.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Sim said:

they were discussing how Rudolf took his morphine. "Just think about it", chuckles Wall, "syringes weren't invented yet, so guess how Rudolf took his morphine?" "Er, the French way, I assume?" "Yes!" he bursts out laughing, "so we decided on poetic licence and brought in the syringe…I didn't want to shock the audience more than we already were doing!"

 

Research in the 1970s obviously not as easy as today, as the first hypodermic syringe was used in 1853, and the incident at Mayerling took place in 1889. Non-hypodermic syringes had, of course, been used since ancient Egyptian days.

 

@Sim thank you so much for posting that extract, I had probably read it before, but it's so interesting I'm happy to read it as many times as I see it!

Edited by Sophoife
Typo and added last para
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Am only able to make very brief comment, but thought the performance last night wonderful, notwithstanding gunshot etc!  I thought Hirano's performance was excellent, one of the best I've seen in the role - he started a little slowly but his characterisation after that was moving and I thought Hirano and Osipova in the last act were devastating.  Very impressed with the other dancers, and the ensemble pieces.  Was reminded again about how beautiful the music is. 

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Again, re the cinema broadcast, I don't remember what was done on previous occasions, but I'm not sure whether it was really a good idea to cut away to the orchestra every time there was a change of scene.  After all, I thought the whole purpose of all those "front of cloth" scenes was so that a scene change could go on behind them without pausing the action: I think the discontinuity which the cuts introduced didn't help me to become fully immersed in what was happening.

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There are some ballets where I can leave at the end, perhaps not feeling moved by the principal roles, but still feel like I've enjoyed every second. Giselle is one. Even if I'm not getting much from whoever is dancing Giselle and Albrecht (which to be honest is pretty rare), that Act 2 with Myrtha and the Wilis gets me every time. Mayerling, although rich with supporting roles and very much an ensemble piece, is not one of those ballets. If I haven't connected with Rudolf in the first Act and I'm not feeling anything towards him, be it hate/pity/anger/sadness, then the rest of the ballet feels pretty pointless to me. Unfortunately this is how I felt last night.

 

The choreography of Mayerling is so genius. With every look, expression and movement we know from the get go that this is a stifling and oppressive court. We need to feel this though from Rudolf quickly, so that the rest of the narrative is set up and makes sense. The steady decline needs to show so that when the final scene takes place, it doesn't feel out of the blue. I think what's also genius about the ballet is that we are picking up the story in the middle. Those first interactions between Rudolf and his parents, and everyone else at court, have been like that throughout his entire life. He is already affected and in deep psychological despair from the moment the ballet starts, in part due to his loveless upbringing. The pas de deux with his mother is so important because it sets up the rest of the ballet and thus his decline. In my opinion, I should be feeling a lot of emotions after that interaction and last night I felt pretty cold.

 

Again in the second Act, when Rudolf spies on his mother having an affair with Bay, it should be the final nail in the coffin. She's already outed her husband's mistress in front of everyone; we get the impression no-one in the room is without their own scandal, and Rudolf is watching it all unfold, realising what a façade and joke this whole court and dynasty is. During the recital on stage, I normally have my binoculars fixed on everyone, but mainly Rudolf. I remember Johan Kobborg and Ed Watson's expressions during this moment - utterly heart-breaking and so full of mixed emotion. It should tell us everything we need to know and send a chill down our spines as we predict that this story isn't going to end well. I didn't get much of this last night.

 

There is much to like in Ryo's technical dancing and he is a strong partner which is incredibly important in a ballet like this. However, without that connection and also without chemistry with his Mary (a feisty Osipova), last night didn't make me feel any emotion at all. The supporting cast were all brilliant but if I struggle to connect with Rudolf, and to find any emotional connection between him and the women, then the ballet falls flat for me.

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I agree with TTP above.  For me, I just didn't feel it.  I have been watching Mayerling for decades and there are times I have left the ROH emotionally spent and completely wrung out.  It wasn't necessarily with the Rudolfs who were 'out there'; some understated but very moving performances got me just as much.  Thiago Soares is one, Jonny Cope, Johan Kobborg are others, and from the one performance I have seen, Matthew Ball will be another.  They each took me on a journey from start to finish, and made me understand their torment and thus their behaviour.  They interacted and connected in different ways with the different women in their life. They made me angry, or sad, or both (at the end of Soares' debut performance I was in floods of tears which surprised me no end).  I'm afraid I just didn't get this last night.  Some people did, so I am very glad to hear it.  

 

My personal opinion is that it was a very strange choice to do a worldwide broadcast on the first night of the season. I would have done it on the 30th anniversary of Sir Kenneth's death, 29th October, with Matthew Ball and Laura Morera in the leads.  We have almost nothing of Laura on film despite all her years at the RB.  She is one of the finest MacMillan interpreters around, and there is very little of that for posterity.  I have no idea if there are any technical reasons that this couldn't have been done, but I think it would have been a wonderful and really fitting tribute to both choreographer and company.

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8 minutes ago, Sim said:

 My personal opinion is that it was a very strange choice to do a worldwide broadcast on the first night of the season. I would have done it on the 30th anniversary of Sir Kenneth's death, 29th October, with Mattew Ball and Laura Morera in the leads.  We have almost nothing of Laura on film despite all her years at the RB.  She is one of the finest MacMillan interpreters around, and there is very little of that for our posterity.  I have no idea if there are any technical reasons that this couldn't have been done, but I think it would have been wonderful and a really fitting tribute to both choreographer and company.


Although I loved the performance I definitely agree with this and thought exactly the same. But I presumed there was a particular reason why they had to do it last night as I didn’t think anyone would really choose to film on opening night especially the start of new season. Well I know I wouldn’t anyway😂

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If memory serves me well, I don't think it's the first time they've done a first night of the season.  I have a feeling there was a Romeo & Juliet a few years back?  (Did they do the same for the Royal Opera?  I don't think I got any notification).  But yes, I did think it was a bit tough on the dancers - and everyone else involved.

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

 

My personal opinion is that it was a very strange choice to do a worldwide broadcast on the first night of the season. I would have done it on the 30th anniversary of Sir Kenneth's death, 29th October, with Matthew Ball and Laura Morera in the leads.  We have almost nothing of Laura on film despite all her years at the RB.  She is one of the finest MacMillan interpreters around, and there is very little of that for posterity.  I have no idea if there are any technical reasons that this couldn't have been done, but I think it would have been a wonderful and really fitting tribute to both choreographer and company.

  Agree wholeheartedly about Morera. 

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I enjoyed Hirano’s Rudolf very much - although I suspect it wouldn’t have worked as well live as it did in the cinema with close ups. 

 

The stand out performance for me was Morera, with Nunez also making a strong impression. I would love to see Morera’s Mary Vetsera. She really was Larisch last night and it was not an acting performance - she was ‘being’ the character. 

 

I was left cold by Hayward, who seemed to have one expression in the Act 1 pas de deux and I didn’t feel that that was a deliberate choice to show that she was frozen in terror. However, I may be wrong. 


Osipova was certainly passionate but I didn’t ‘feel’ it particularly. Not sure why, I am trying to work it out. 
 

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40 minutes ago, Legseleven said:

I enjoyed Hirano’s Rudolf very much - although I suspect it wouldn’t have worked as well live as it did in the cinema with close ups. 

 

The stand out performance for me was Morera, with Nunez also making a strong impression. I would love to see Morera’s Mary Vetsera. She really was Larisch last night and it was not an acting performance - she was ‘being’ the character. 

 

I was left cold by Hayward, who seemed to have one expression in the Act 1 pas de deux and I didn’t feel that that was a deliberate choice to show that she was frozen in terror. However, I may be wrong. 


Osipova was certainly passionate but I didn’t ‘feel’ it particularly. Not sure why, I am trying to work it out. 
 

 

Morera really was a standout, she seemed to carry most scenes she was in and your eye couldn't look away from her.

 

I do feel (not amongst fans, she is beloved) but from within the Royal itself, she is an unappreciated asset. She's never pushed forward or promoted but she always shines on the stage.

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28 minutes ago, capybara said:


And they also missed the opportunity to film her wonderful Natalia Petrovna in Month last season.

Don't get me on that again. I've bored people enough with my thoughts about that!

 

However, I thought Sim made a great point about filming the 30th anniversary programme with Ball/Morera. That would have been a fabulous tribute to him. Presumably Kevin will make an announcement on the night and possibly dedicate the performance to him but a recording, especially with that cast, would have been even more special.

 

I watched at the cinema (terrible service from Odeon, Preston). Music too loud though they allegedly turned it down. No lights at the intervals (I had to resort to switching them on myself), at one point a message on the screen that we had to find someone to remove, and no cherry garcia ice cream as the freezers weren't working! However my free vouchers worked which was a great saving.

 

Loved the ballet, especially the women. Made me even keener to see Morera and Hayward as Mary later on (Avanti/train strikes permitting). However, for me and several others in the cinema judging by overheard comments, the broadcast was spoiled by terrible (almost non existent) lighting. When will the RB learn that people actually like to see what's happening? I'll have to check through past recordings, especially the Mukhamedov one, to see if things have got worse over time. I know there is always going to be a difference between what the cameras see and what a theatre viewer will see but does it really need to be this dark? If you haven't seen the ballet previously (and probably many cinema goers, especially abroad, haven't) you'll be struggling to see what's going on. The prologue and final scene especially were terrible; a few dark shadows. Only Bratfisch was shown clearly. Close ups were clear but shots of the entire stage were murky, even during the wedding celebrations. I seem to remember the last 2015 recording of Fille with Osipova/McRae was spoilt for me by poor lighting and if you can't light Fille properly there's something very wrong.

I know a ballet like Mayerling has to have darker lighting to mirror the dark tragedy but there are limits.

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26 minutes ago, alison said:

I must admit, I was wondering last night whether, had Bonelli not left, his Mayerling with her as Mary would have been the one filmed.  

It's an artistic tragedy that that performance was not committed to film.  

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I'm sure I've said this before, but years ago when the ROH was filming a production, there were extra lights onto the stage from the auditorium (and some seats were not bookable to facilitate this) and since it was acknowledged that this could impact on the live audience experience warnings were given at booking stage (though I can't actually remember if the tickets were any cheaper). Now, of course, the live experience is no different to any other evening. Not sure I understand that!

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Just now, Sophoife said:

Incidentally, as the cinema relay doesn't reach Australia until October 29 (it's a very long cable), how was Catherine Carby?

I liked her.  A lovely clear voice with excellent diction.  I also liked the way she moved around the stage instead of standing still the whole time.  It made it very obvious who she was singing to.  

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45 minutes ago, bridiem said:

I'm sure I've said this before, but years ago when the ROH was filming a production, there were extra lights onto the stage from the auditorium (and some seats were not bookable to facilitate this) and since it was acknowledged that this could impact on the live audience experience warnings were given at booking stage (though I can't actually remember if the tickets were any cheaper). Now, of course, the live experience is no different to any other evening. Not sure I understand that!

 

I can remember that too.  The auditorium was as bright as day, and the performers could see everyone in the audience, apparently. 

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The opening and closing scenes were pretty dark in the theatre too - far more so than I remember the last runs of Mayerling being.  From the mid-Amphi it was almost impossible to see what was happening at the grave, and the moments with the raising of the umbrellas were lost.

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I'm afraid it's a fact of life that as we get older our ability to see in low-light conditions decreases :( .  I wonder if that could be at least a contributing factor?

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2 hours ago, Sim said:

I liked her.  A lovely clear voice with excellent diction.  I also liked the way she moved around the stage instead of standing still the whole time.  It made it very obvious who she was singing to.  

Good to read these positive words about one of the artists I represent. The other mezzo, Samantha Price, is also JBM 🎼

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5 hours ago, Legseleven said:

I enjoyed Hirano’s Rudolf very much - although I suspect it wouldn’t have worked as well live as it did in the cinema with close ups. 

 

The stand out performance for me was Morera, with Nunez also making a strong impression. I would love to see Morera’s Mary Vetsera. She really was Larisch last night and it was not an acting performance - she was ‘being’ the character. 

 

I was left cold by Hayward, who seemed to have one expression in the Act 1 pas de deux and I didn’t feel that that was a deliberate choice to show that she was frozen in terror. However, I may be wrong. 


Osipova was certainly passionate but I didn’t ‘feel’ it particularly. Not sure why, I am trying to work it out. 
 

I saw Laura Morera on Tuesday (at the Friends rehearsal) as Mary and she was absolutely amazing - the stand-out performer for me. I just loved her and think she will be hard to beat (not that it's a competition). I liked Matthew Ball's Rudolph very much but wasn't blown away by it. He seemed a bit shaky at the start. so would like to see him again. The Act III pas de deux was breathtaking though. Loved the Hungarian officers, especially William Bracewell - their choreography was stunning and very dramatic! I have only seen Mayerling recently (on a streaming service) and once only, and that was an older performance. I am new to the ballet but really enjoyed the performance on Tuesday, Mayara Magri's Larisch was excellent too.

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55 minutes ago, Linnzi5 said:

I saw Laura Morera on Tuesday (at the Friends rehearsal) as Mary and she was absolutely amazing - the stand-out performer for me. I just loved her and think she will be hard to beat (not that it's a competition). I liked Matthew Ball's Rudolph very much but wasn't blown away by it. He seemed a bit shaky at the start. so would like to see him again. The Act III pas de deux was breathtaking though. Loved the Hungarian officers, especially William Bracewell - their choreography was stunning and very dramatic! I have only seen Mayerling recently (on a streaming service) and once only, and that was an older performance. I am new to the ballet but really enjoyed the performance on Tuesday, Mayara Magri's Larisch was excellent too.

 

I was really impressed with the Hungarian officers last night too, I thought they were a stand out, really thrilling! 

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