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The Story

Rudolf, the emotionally unstable Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, is forced to marry Princess Stephanie against his will. His former lover Marie Larisch procures him a young new mistress, Mary Vetsera – who shares his obsession with death.

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Background

In Mayerling, Kenneth MacMillan tells the true story of the suicide pact between the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his teenage mistress in 1889. This intensely dark and powerful ballet received a standing ovation at its premiere in 1978, and is regarded by many as MacMillan’s greatest masterpiece. The music of Franz Liszt, arranged and orchestrated by John Lanchbery, provides a sweeping soundscape to match the high emotion of the drama, while the designs of Nicholas Georgiadis conjure up the privileged and oppressive society of the Austro-Hungarian court.

MacMillan’s choreography balances the large-scale – the pomp of a royal wedding and the splendour of a ballroom – with intimate scenes and an eagerness to push the boundaries of classical ballet. The role of Rudolf, the deeply disturbed Crown Prince, is one of the most demanding ever created for a male dancer. His psychological and emotional decline is charted in a series of shockingly violent pas de deux with the women in his life: his mother, his unhappy bride and his young mistress, the obsessive Mary Vetsera.

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On Wikipedia

Mayerling is a ballet created in 1978 by Kenneth MacMillan for the Royal Ballet, London.

Abstract taken from the Wikipedia article Mayerling (ballet), available under a Creative Commons license.