MAYERLING

Ferenc Liszt / Kenneth MacMillan

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Ballet in three acts  
Libretto: Gillian Freeman
Music: Franz Liszt
Arrangment and orchestration: John Lanchbery
World premiere: 14 March 1978, Royal Ballet, London
Polish premiere: 21 May 2021, Polish National Ballet, Warsaw

Stage fright has been a bother for many performers; even the best virtuosos found themselves struggling with it, while some of the greatest talents lost their battle to it. Kenneth MacMillan began his dance career with London’s Sadler’s Wells Ballet. Considered a top prospect, his wings were clipped by stage fright. He retired from the stage becoming an eminent choreographer, creator of ten full-length ballets and over fifty one-act pieces featuring his original choreography. He was chiefly associated with The Royal Ballet, London, where he first served as artistic director, then chief choreographer until his death in 1992. 

It was for this company that in 1978 he devised the three-act ballet Mayerling based on one of history’s most puzzling love stories: the affair between Prince Rudolf, son of Emperor Franz Josef I, and teenage Baroness Mary Vetsera. The couple was discovered dead in Rudolf’s hunting cabin, supposedly, after committing a double suicide. There were some, however, who speculated that the heir to the Austro-Hunagrian throne had been murdered. The spicy story inspired a host of films, including Terence Young’s Mayerling starring Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve, as well as catching the fancy of journalists and writers. 

Drawing inspiration from George Marek’s book The Eagles Die, MacMillan wanted to showcase the compelling love and passion shared by the two aristocrats as well as the social pressures they faced, which – combined with the lack of prospects for their relationship to develop because of monarchistic reasons – could have led the lovers to take the tragic decision. MacMillan set his Mayerling to Franz Liszt’s Faust Symphony and employed Crown Prince Rudolf’s obsession with weaponry and death as the leading motif. 

Presented on many of the world’s balletic stages, Mayerling will be performed at the Wielki in Warsaw by the dancers of the Polish National Ballet in a production conducted by Patrick Fournillier.

Credits

Polish National Ballet
Orchestra of the Polish National Opera

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Sponsors

  • Patron of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

  • Partner of Polish National Ballet

  • Patrons of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partners of the Opera Academy

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partner of the Polish National Ballet

  • Media patrons