Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Kenneth's MacMillan's Mayerling / Mukhamedov Durante Collier Royal Ballet|
Actors: Irek Mukhamedov, Viviana Durante
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
The intensely beautiful ballet that tells the story of the forbidden love and tragic deaths of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungry and his young mistress, Mary Vetsera. The Royal Ballet performs with Irek Mukhamedov, Viv... more »
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The dark side of passion
Casey Snider | Norfolk, Virginia United States | 01/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I bought "Mayerling" sight-unseen after reading the synopsis in a book, and I'm glad I did. "Mayerling", choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan ("Romeo and Juliet") and performed by the Royal Ballet, tells the story of the tragic love affair between the mentally-ill Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary and his 17-year-old mistress Mary Vetsera, which ended in a murder-suicide at the royal lodge of Mayerling on January 30, 1889. Viewers be warned...this is no fairy-tale, but a dark, intense story of passion, violence, and death.
Irek Mukhamedov is almost frightening as Rudolf, a tormented, drug-addicted womanizer who brutally assaults his new bride (Jane Burn) on their wedding night and who seems to decay visibly as he sinks into madness and addiction. Drawn against his will into a web of radical political intrigue, Rudolf finds solace in Baroness Mary Vetsera, a highstrung teenager with a death-wish to match Rudolf's own. Viviana Durante dances Mary with an electrical intensity, fully believable as a young girl fascinated by death. Lesley Collier and Darcey Bussell also add spice as the scheming Countess Larisch and Rudolf's coquettish mistress Mitzi Kasper, and Matthew Hart is a loose-limbed Bratfisch. The choreography is classic MacMillan, filled with the same passionate, full-speed-ahead energy that characterizes his "Romeo and Juliet" --- the pas de deuxs are so violent sometimes you wonder how Mukhamedov, Durante, and Burn get through them without getting hurt. If you're looking for pretty, "classic" ballet, you're not going to find it here. Dancers flail and fall, grasping frantically at each other like drowning people reaching for the last available lifeboat, and even the scenery seems soaked in despair. I suppose you could call "Mayerling" the "anti-Romeo"; transcendant, glowing romance is replaced here by lust, desperation, and darkness. The ballet ends with one of the most shocking scenes I can remember; the rigor-mortised body of Mary Vetsera being dragged from a carriage and laid in a coffin for a secret burial in a barren, darkened cemetery.
The only quibble I had with the production was the overuse of closeups, especially during the violent wedding-night pas de deux for Rudolf and Stephanie. While it was nice to see the emotions on the dancers' faces up-close every so often, the director had a habit of going for tight closeups during some of the most dramatic moments in the dance, which detracted from the brutal physicality of the pas and lessened the emotional impact. There was a nice touch, though, in the on-screen narration between scenes, very helpful if you're not quite up to speed on your Austrio-Hungarian history. If you're serious about building a ballet DVD collection, add "Mayerling" to your list if only for a change of pace from all those swans and sleeping princesses."
Ballet as a lurid, passionate historical melodrama
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 11/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To enjoy Mayerling to its fullest, a little historical background is in order: in 1889, at the Mayerling hunting lodge, the Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary died with his young lover Mary Vetsera for reasons that even today remain a mystery. Some maintain that the unbalanced Rudolf was death-obsessed and that the deaths were a murder-suicide from a morbid couple. To add to the intrigue, Prince Rudolf was the last heir to the Hapsburg family line and thought to have dissident sympathies. Certainly the deaths of two illicit lovers, one of which happened to be a Crown Prince, continue to make good story.
Kenneth MacMillan's ballet is a lurid, passionate historical melodrama. He obviously buys into the murder-suicide theory. This 1994 video of a Covent Garden revival is as intense and "R-rated" as anything you're likely to see at the ballet. The video helpfully has a scrolling synposis before each act to make the myriad characters and thick storyline more understandable -- in the final scene they even superimpose some pictures of the historical characters.
The main reasons to get this video are: 1. the intense, haunting, vivid choreography of MacMillan, set to a score by Franz Liszt; and 2. the almost perfect casting. Irek Mukhamedov gives an unforgettable (and I use that word sparingly) performance as Prince Rudolf. Diabolical, morbid, he is a true Byronic hero in this very long, intense role. A lead character that has to stroke a skull and shoot up heroin can easily become hammy and campy, but Mukhamedov's feral, almost demented committment, as well as his Soviet training (huge leaps, huge jumps, big drama) defies such pitfalls. As his young lover Mary, Viviana Durante is equally memorable. Her petite, waifish body, girlish bangs, and frilly costumes belie a sinister, predatory, oversexed personality. She's like Salome -- she has to be young, innocent-looking, but shockingly depraved. Durante and Mukhamedov have incredible chemistry. Durante's pliant back-bends during the lovers' frenzied pas de deuxs are a textbook blend of classical ballet technique and verismo. Equally as touching is the innocent Princess Stephanie (a wonderful Jane Burn). Her terrified shaking on her wedding night to Prince Rudolf borders on misogynistic and voyeuristic, but the violent pas de deux retains its shock value even after repeated viewings.
The supporting cast is a who's-who of British ballet: the tall, high-kicking, button-nosed Darcey Bussell has a brief scene as Mitzi Caspar, a seedy bar-girl. Lesley Collier is Countess Larisch, his ex-mistress who throws herself at Rudolf during Rudolf's wedding party.
I think to enjoy Mayerling you must have a taste for costume melodramas. The choreography is at-times lurid, and pretty much disregards the chivalry that is such a tradition in classical ballet. The story is complicated. But for those who want a dollop of historical intrigue, with shovel-fuls of melodrama and more than a dash of vulgarity, Mayerling is devastatingly effective theater."
Ivy Lin | 02/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think the Royal Ballet's version of Mayerling was wonderful.In my opinion, the royal ballet has never dissapointed me with their productions.The shows that they put on, are quality performances, in regards to the stage sets, the costumes, the skills of the dancers,the story lines.By the time you are done watching this video, you will have a better understanding of Austro Hungarian history,of the Hapsburg dynasty (you will learn more about Franz Joseph,Empress Elizabeth and their emotionally tender love starved son; Crown Prince Rudolf), and of the richness and high culture of that royal dynasty.The main character,(played by Irek Mukhademov), was a fantastic Rudolf.He brought out the raw emotions of this character (Rudolfs lonliness,his mother's lack of warmth for him, his father's unfriendly relationship with him, his fascination with death, his and Mary Vetsera's substantial love for one another). I am also a great fan of Viviana Durante, who plays Mary Vetsera.She is an excellent dancer and plays her part beautifully.I also enjoyed seeing Lesley Collier in this performance. Her dancing is lovely, and you just can't help but like her. The music in this ballet is by Franz Liszt.I think that the music is perfect for the ballet."
A dramatic Victorian art
Volunteer of America | Austin, Texas | 09/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Other reviewers know much more about ballet than I do, but want to say how much I enjoy this work. First of all the faces of the dancers are incredibly suitable, sensual, decadent, nobility decayed. Especially Rudolf's younger and older mistresses, whose sultry looks and broad painted mouths are perfect. Irek Mukhamedov is a brilliant Prince Rudolf, brooding, superior, forceful, fatally flawed. His arrogant dancing is sublime. Scene 9, at the notorious nightclub, with the perturbed wife, the dancers, the Hungarian gipsy dancing first by the nightclub professionals and then eclipsed by Mukhamedov, is particularly poignant, with fabulous music by Liszt.There's a great deal of human art and life to be seen here."