Accessibility links


Sign In
  • Home
  • News
  • Mayerling: "Emotionally exhilarating and exhausting"

Mayerling: "Emotionally exhilarating and exhausting"

Edward Watson and former dancer David Wall on the power of MacMillan's ballet.

By Lottie Butler (Former Assistant Content Producer (News and Social Media))

1 December 2012 at 12.51pm | 4 Comments

Kenneth MacMillan’s masterful Mayerling is one of the most choreographically and psychologically rich full-length ballets in The Royal Ballet's repertory. Based on the life of Crown Prince Rudolf, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it's a dark work encompassing everything from love and lust to political intrigue; drugs and violence to insanity and suicide.

MacMillan began working on the ballet in 1977 when he was the Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet, creating the lead roles on David Wall and Lynn Seymour. When he retired from the position in 1978, it was to focus his energy on choreography; a decision triumphantly vindicated when Mayerling received a standing ovation on its premiere at a Royal Gala in 1978.

At the time of its premiere 34 years ago, Mayerling was the first full-length British ballet in which a male dancer had the central role. Current Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson loves the work:

“There’s nothing like Mayerling – nothing so focuses on the male protagonist. The choreography is incredible to get into, and emotionally it’s completely exhilarating and exhausting.”

The lead role of the violent and tortured Crown Prince Rudolf of Vienna places exceptional demands on the dancer, requiring dramatic theatrical ability and interpretation as much as physical athleticism.

David Wall described the character in an interview with Mark Monahan for About The House magazine:

“The day after a performance of Mayerling, I used to feel as if I'd been run over by a steamroller. One has to have total confidence in one’s artistry and in the fact that one can be subtle within the role, and not just treat it as a big male virtuoso piece. It involves a lot of intelligence of interpretation... ”

The rollercoaster-like ballet is set to the dramatic music of Franz Liszt, arranged by John Lanchbery.

Mayerling runs 28 April–13 May 2017.

Tickets are open to Friends on 7 December 2016. General tickets will be available on 24 January 2017.

By Lottie Butler (Former Assistant Content Producer (News and Social Media))

1 December 2012 at 12.51pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged by Kenneth Macmillan, David Wall, Kenneth MacMillan, Lynn Seymour, Mayerling, Production

This article has 4 comments

  1. Anne Tillyer responded on 6 December 2012 at 5:46pm Reply

    When I saw it, Edward Watson was magnetic and brilliant as Mayerling: the best! Fragile and sinister and powerful. I loved him in it. A proper 'grown-up' ballet and one of my favourites. The choreography is exhilarating, especially when Mitzi leaps with the men in the tavern scene. A clip would be nice to accompany this article. Great costumes as well. I could watch it again and again.

  2. Marilyn weston responded on 24 October 2016 at 9:29am Reply

    David wall was brilliant best rudof ever

  3. Julia responded on 19 April 2017 at 6:44pm Reply

    My favorite ballet. Then "Manon"

Comment on this article

Your email will not be published

Website URL is optional