Mayerling - revisited - May 4th, 2016
Wiener Staatsballet: May 4th, 2016. “Mayerling” revisited.
Many people, who know me well, are aware that MacMillan’s Mayerling is not „my cup of tea“.
In fact I have a huge problem with its language, which I do not consider as a ballet one. Let me try to explain this: the story-telling line is extremely confusing, so filled-up with characters (25 “main characters”) that it is impossible to understand the whole work unless you have a full command of this mad chapter in Austrian history or keep reading the programme during intermissions. This is neither ballet language nor dance material - this is the kind of stuff that cinema and theatre are made of – and as the educated lady sitting next to me put it quite wisely: “I am all confused”.
Please note that this commentary has absolute nothing to do with the choreography itself, which has Kenneth MacMillan’s distinct signature. Many moments are overwhelming like the humiliating pas de deux of the wedding night, like Mizzi Caspar’s variation with the four Officials, like Bratfisch’s attempts to entertain both Rudolph and Mary and like the last pas de deux before Rudolph kills Mary: that anguish, madness and despair “in the air” are sometimes too much to bear.
Some points in the narrative are just too “cliché like” and the strong action in the backside of the inn during the first scene of the second act distracts the attention of the audience. But is a narrative, conception problem which has absolute nothing to do with the dance itself.
Yesterday’s performance offered us once more many memorable moments. It is quite impossible to mention and comment every single member of the cast and I will try to be brief.
I cannot start this without mentioning the ones that are seldom mentioned: the magnificent, steadfast members of the corps de Ballet. Dancers that have joined the company already some years ago like Céline Janou Weder, Igor Milos, Jaimy van Overeem and Franziska Wallner-Hollinek but also some that have not been in the company for long like Suzan Opperman, Alaia Rogers, Géraud Wielick, Tristan Ridel and Zsolt Török, just to name a few. By the way: such a joy to be able to witness once more lovely, gifted Gloria Maass again on stage as Baroness Helene Vetsera.
Nina Tonoli, in the small role of Louise, Stephanie’s sister, gave us rich moments filled with those enchanting lines (lovely arms!) and strong precision that she possesses. A funny coincidence: such a coincidence to have a Belgian princess played by such a charming Belgian Dancer.
Stephanie, a character not much mentioned in history due to its pathetic “short passage” through the Austrian court, was beautifully performed by Natascha Mair. Miss Mair keeps surprising me anew. Her development as a dancer and an artist has been obvious to everyone during the last two seasons – and so quick. As a young dancer Miss Mair has a rare quality among her generation: she is also an actress. Her technique is clean, well formed, strong. The paleness that she brought to this role is heart-breaking. The final Scene of the first act, the wedding Night, was a real display for her vulnerability and frailty in this role. One of the highlights of the evening!
Davide Dato’s Bratfisch is a joy. Mr. Dato, one the best dancers from the company, has turned into a public’s darling and has an immense following. A star with a low-profile, he combines a marvelous technique (his jumps are more and more amazing with the pass of time, in perfect unison with his en dehors, very well accentuated and that also when he is “en l’air”), interpretation gifts with the eagerness of a hard worker. A man of discipline. I admire that.
Marie Larisch, one of the most dishonorable characters in Austrian history (which in fact was sent away from the court after the Mayerling scandal) was bravely played by Ketevan Papava. One of the most expressive dancers in the company and, I think, the most versatile one (I remember her in this same Ballet playing the emotional complicated role of Elizabeth), a dancer with imagination and visions. Intelligent. Unfortunately Miss Papava has to wear that terrible red wig for the role, that makes her look more like “Orphan Annie” than a woman of extreme beauty like Marie Larisch was (and just like Miss Papava also is!).
The four officials were dynamically played by Alexis Forabosco, Marcin Dempc, Mayasu kimoto and Alexandru Tcacenco, all four of them dancers that fall in that beautiful category called steadfastness: loyal and constant.
Liudmila Konovalova, giving her debút in the role of Mizzi Caspar, danced the most interesting dance part of the evening.
Also one that combines extreme technical efforts with lots of trust on her partners – such strong, steady partners like, for example Mr. Forabosco, a very masculine dancer, as one of the officials, proved once more to be. Miss Konovalova, also a dancer in constant technical and artistry development, showed us once more why she earns the denomination of being captivating – a rare quality with audiences – while she is endearing. After a long, hard season (that even included a performance in a London Gala with Matt Golding), she is in top form and in full command of her gifted body and talents.
I keep thinking that Miss Konovalova is the only dancer I know that I can imagine as Myrtha and as Giselle as well… Fabulous performance!
Mr. Lasik, as usual a very predictable dancer, ran the gamut of emotion from A to B (like Dorothy Parker once said about Katherine Hepburn). Technically very good (but a bit too thin at the moment) he looked uncomfortable and tired in the role of Rudolph.
Miss Tsymbal’s Mary Vetsera was again a surprise for me. Even more subtle than in the past. Her looks (which reminded me incredibly of Gelsey Kirkland in her prime), with slightly lighter hair, were so charming, captivating – you could not take the eyes of her every time she went on stage. Technically, her clever use of the floor must be mentioned. Her feet and legs seem to be caressing the stage floor very carefully, in order to give her the energy to rise to the air: light, nearly fairy-like.
She offered us a very emotional performance and her last scene (which I have mentioned at the beginning of this critic) moved us nearly to tears. This hard piece of choreography, MacMillan’s at his very best, is the perfect frame for lovely Miss Tsymbal. She is the company's best Mary Vetsera. It is her role. No question about that.
A very pleasant evening. Even though, as have said before, “Mayerling” is not “my cup of tea”!
Both Videos: Copyright Delbeau Films - Balázs Delbo