BWW Review: THE ROYAL BALLET'S MAYERLING, AN EPIC THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE at LA Music Center
With the great curiosity of Natalia Osipova's appearance with England's Royal Ballet, I caught up with the company that has not made an appearance in Los Angeles in 24 years. When the soft sunshine traveled through the window and hit on the west side of the theatre, balletomanes were excited to have an experience they usually don't have---to see the prestigious ballet company!
Kenneth MacMillan was a master choreographer, the master choreographer of life's seamier side and here he gets his hands on Vienna's Hapsburgs. His choreography is absolutely innovative and contemporary; nothing like the typical classical ballets. Prince and princess do not live in harmony; they are troubled souls surrounded by cruelty and intrigue. Their palace is like a thick and big spider web, capturing the audience in their seats with nowhere or no way to escape. Like a dark, intense movie, Mayerling is determined to give us another look at classical narrative ballet without the pretty picture.
Ryoichi Hirano's exotic look and accurate acting make the unruly and dissolute Crown Prince Rudolf 's character very convincing. He is tall, strong, and handsome, while the mustache eliminates the fairytale possibilities of the story-he is not a prince in Swan Lake, but a gloomy, troubled soul.
Meanwhile, Natalia Osipova as Baroness Mary Vetsera, Rudolf's soul mate in life, as well as death, shines on the stage-- where does she get the energy? She is a soft, flexible, angelic teenage soul imprisoned by Rudolf's neuroticism. The jumps, the saute, the chaines; a young woman's fantasy of love was acted and danced with fragility, delicacy, elegance, and determination.
The three acts are as well balanced as any movie or drama. Instead of making ballet dancers show off their pirouette en dedans or tour en l'air , the pas de deux of Mayerling is like a magic shows-they touch each other, they kiss each other, their bodies were like inside each other's-- communicating with each other every second. What can we see from six pairs of the pas de deux? Confession, love, violence, confusion, sadness, sex, and sadism, making the bedroom scenes shockingly beautiful.
The best pas de deux is the second bedroom scene of the Crown Prince and his mistress, the teenage Mary. This time, they don't test each other; they are shadows of each other's neuroticism. The atmosphere is tender but hotter, but their bodies are twisted, their moves are fierce. Alluring, sexy, their love to death stimulates their sexual desire to each other - a perfect volatile mix of tantalizing beauty and formidable athleticism.
After watching the performance, I looked at the cover of the program again: Mary laying on top of Crown Prince Rudolf in a position of port de bras, can't be more accurate in describing their relationship- her fragility and devotion to Rudolf; his torturous pain and desperation. She is his savior; with her, he dares to kill himself.
1/2/3-Natalia Osipova as Mary Vetsera and Ryoichi Hirano as Rudolf, photo by Helen Maybanks/ROH
4-Lauren Cuthbertson and Thiago Soares in Mayerling, photo by Helen Maybanks / ROH