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DVD Review

Franz Liszt


Complete Ballet Music Arranged by John Lanchbery
  • Edward Watson (Prince Rudolf)
  • Mara Galeazzi (Maria)
  • Sarah Lamb (Countess Larisch)
Artists of the Royal Ballet
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/Barry Wordsworth
Opus Arte DVD 0A1028D 160min
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon JapanOrder Now from ArkivMusic.comFind it at CD Universe Find it at JPC
Also available on Blu-ray Opus Arte OABD7061D:
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe - JPC

One of choreographer Kenneth MacMillan's greatest creations, Mayerling remains to this day one of his most popular works. The reasons are several, but maybe the allure of the tragic story of Crown Prince Rudolf and his 17 year-old mistress Maria Vetsera seems to excite audiences worldwide. MacMillan's objective and that of Gillian Freeman, his scenarist, was to eliminate much of the romantic flavor that surrounds this complex event and suggest something nearer to the truth. Obviously, in the process of transferring the story to the stage, history had to be edited and given viable theatrical form, but the result is an outstanding dramatic ballet which is also a remarkable story of a man trapped by society and his own morbid psyche.

premièred on 15th February 1978 to ecstatic critical acclaim, the ballet includes several exceptional roles, most notably that of Rudolf, which presents one of the most massive challenges to a male dancer. Edward Watson's interpretation is absolutely magnificent in its sensitivity, dignity and power to arrest our sympathy, despite the moral and physical degeneration of the protagonist. Mara Galeazzi as Rudolf's mistress is also outstanding, and her portrayal of innocence being progressively violated and eventually destroyed makes hypnotic viewing. The minor roles are danced no less commandingly, and each artist delivers a performance of aplomb and precision.

Liszt's music needs no introduction, but John Lanchbery's arrangement and orchestration are marvelously inventive, and the dramatic impact of the story is superbly captured and portrayed. Apart from MacMillan's choreography, this searing Royal Ballet production also retains the wondrous original scenery and costumes by Gillian Freeman, aspects of which were highly lauded at the première. Add John B. Read's skilful lighting effects and the thrilling staging of Grant Coyle, Monica Mason and Monica Parker and you have the perfect chemistry to an experience of unimaginable almost unbearable intensity. A must of a DVD in exemplary state-of-the-art sound and vision.

Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech.