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  • Writer's pictureLisa in the theatre

REVIEW: Royal Ballet, Mayerling

Updated: May 30

Live from The Royal Opera House, London

5 October 2022


Royal Ballet Mayerling Live screen

On Wednesday evening I went to my local Showcase Cinema for the Royal Opera House live screen of Kenneth McMillan's 1978 ballet, Mayerling.

I paid £13.20 for my ticket (with a small Showcase Insider discount) and I got to put my feet up in a spacious recliner chair. I also had the full cinema screen to myself! No-one rustling sweets in my ears or talking through the show... Bliss! It was like I had my own private screening.

Tickets for the Royal Opera House on that night were £135 to £30, and we all know that the £30 seats would have been restricted view. I had the best seat in the house for £13 and I was almost horizontal too! This is why I love NT Live / Live screens.

Performed by the wonderful Royal Ballet and Royal Opera House Orchestra, this is the first time I had been to an Opera House live screen. I've been to plenty NT Lives, and they are such a good idea. If you don't know, the live performance from the theatre in London is beamed to (on this occasion 806) cinemas across the UK. I love that it let's us who don't live near London have the opportunity to see these performances 'live'.

Royal Ballet: Mayerling

The audience attends the theatre as normal, although I believe there is a slightly earlier start time on 'screen' nights. The camera work is excellent - you are closer to the action than you would be at the theatre. And you can hear the audience reactions. It really does feel like you are there. Plus the cinema live screens have the bonus of pre-show and interval talks and interviews. It was lovely to hear Kenneth McMillan's widow talk about the production during the first break here.

I am certainly no ballet expert (just a fan) but I think the role of Crown Prince Rudolph must be the most physically demanding lead role for a man in ballet. Ryoichi Hirano is a machine! It was exhausting just watching him.

This is a long ballet, almost 3 hours with 2 breaks, and Rio danced with total commitment for the whole time. He picked up and threw around his partners with such strength, passion and care - it was so impressive. He also had more costume changes than I've ever seen a male performer have!

Rio Hirano in Mayerling - Royal Ballet

The pas de deux at the end of Act I, and the pas de deux in Acts II and III were the highlights for me. All of the large Royal Ballet ensemble are excellent, but Natalia Osopova as Mary was outstanding. Her arabesque is the best I've ever seen. And some of the positions that Rudolph and Mary got themselves into would've confounded the Kama Sutra.

This is very fast moving and physically demanding dance. Absolutely gorgeous to witness up close. Mayerling is definitely a traditional ballet but there's also a great story here!

The dancing from the Royal Ballet combined with the music from the Royal Opera House orchestra and the absolutely gorgeous costumes make it a real treat for any dance fans.

[Review first posted on Instagram 10 October 2022]

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