Rudolf, the emotionally unstable Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, is forced to marry Princess Stephanie of Belgium against his will. He is drawn into a downward spiral of political intrigue, violence and, ultimately, suicide.
Kenneth MacMillan turned to the double suicide of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his teenage mistress for this 1978 work. The music of Franz Liszt, arranged by John Lanchbery, provides a sweeping soundscape to match the high emotion of the drama, while the designs of Nicholas Georgiadis bring to life 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 a willingness to push the boundaries of classical ballet. The role of Rudolf, the violent and troubled Crown Prince of Vienna, is one of the most demanding ever created for a male dancer. His psychological and emotional decline is charted in a series of shockingly charged pas de deux with the women in his life: his mother, his unhappy bride and his young mistress, the neurotic Mary Vetsera.
News and features
7 February 2014
A look at the development of the male dancer.
5 July 2013
One donor wins a signed pair of Mara Galeazzi's pointe shoes, worn at her final Covent Garden performance.
14 June 2013
A selection of your tweets and picnic pics from the first of this year's outdoor relays, which saw Mara Galeazzi's farewell.
12 June 2013
Boxes still available for summer productions, including Mara Galeazzi and Leanne Benjamin’s final performances.
10 June 2013
Mara Galeazzi and Edward Watson give a behind the scenes look at a vital process as part of our Pointe Shoe Appeal
7 June 2013
How the Pointe Shoes Room manages the colossal numbers of ballet boots required for MacMillan's ballet.