Review Roundup: MAYERLING at The Hobby Center
Houston Ballet is the first American ballet company to perform MAYERLING. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the ballet was moved to The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, and had four performances, instead of the previously scheduled six, from September 22-24.
Sir Kenneth MacMillan's MAYERLING is a three-act narrative ballet, set to John Lanchbery's powerful arrangement of Franz Liszt compositions, based on the historic 1889 incident involving the murder-suicide of the sole heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Crown Prince Rudolf, and his 17-year-old mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera. Sir MacMillan's last full-length ballet boldly requires dancers to fully embody intense characters through dramatic acting and dancing.
The company of MAYERLING included Connor Walsh and Charles-Louis Yoshiyama as Crown Prince Rudolph, Karina Gonzalez and Melody Mennite as Baroness Mary Vetsera, Melody Mennite and Monica Gomez as Princess Stephanie, Jessica Collado and Natalie Varnum as Empress Elisabeth, Sara Webb and Soo Youn Cho as Countess Marie Larisch, and Yuriko Kajiya and Nozomi Ijima as Mitzi Caspar.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Alastair MacCaulay, The New York Times: Houston's two Rudolfs both admirably carried the entire ballet in its large arc from high society to suicide. On Friday, Connor Walsh was touchingly vulnerable but explosive; and on Saturday afternoon, Charles-Louis Yoshiyama was impulsive, ardent, anguished. Mary Vetsera was played by Karina Gonzalez (Friday) and Melody Mennite (Saturday afternoon), both ideally reckless in passion.
Natalie de la Garza, The Houston Press: Walsh commands the stage and the demands of the role - both in terms of dance and in terms of acting, which Mayerling requires from all its cast. From his relatively composed state in the first act until he spins completely out of control in the third, Walsh goes on an impressive journey, and he's not alone. Working opposite the best the Houston Ballet has to offer has to be an advantage and boy, did he have the best. Kajiya dazzled as Rudolf's favorite prostitute Mitzi, particularly in her group dance with the Hungarian officers (Ryo Kato, Rhys Kosakowski, Linnar Looris and Jared Matthews). Webb is elusive as Marie Larisch. She both toys with Rudolf and shows the most genuine concern for him, distraught at their last encounter. It's also apparent in their pas de deux that she's the closest to being Rudolf's equal.
Molly Glentzer, Chron: Patrons seemed relieved to see the company on stage again, with its home theater a few blocks east still ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. They also appeared grateful for a night of beauty. But most of all, they applauded the flawless performances of a masterpiece that is the best thing Houston Ballet has added to its repertoire in years.