Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Mayerling. It was last on stage 28 April—13 May 2017 as part of the Spring 2016/17 season.
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.
Mary meets Rudolf at the hunting lodge Mayerling. They make love. He shoots her, and then kills himself. The royal family desperately covers up the tragedy.
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.
News and features
18 May 2017
Why did Liszt abandon a life of wild excess to forge a radical (and risky) new path?
12 May 2017
MacMillan’s potent dramatic ballet places great demands on its cast and requires careful planning – but the results are electrifying.
3 May 2017
Audience and press reviews of The Royal Ballet's real-life royal tale of love, lust and death.
19 April 2017
This intense duet reflects the shared obsession that will lead Prince Rudolf and Mary Vetsera to their joint suicide.
13 April 2017
Our quick introduction to this shattering work from the master of dark narrative ballet.
13 February 2017
We've scoured the repertory in search of the most romantic ballets for Valentine's Day.
Mayerling is a ballet created in 1978 by Kenneth MacMillan for the Royal Ballet, London.