From London's Daily Express today:
WHEN it comes to exploring the darkest corners of the psyche through ballet there is nobody to touch the late choreographer Kenneth MacMillan. And they don't come much darker than Mayerling.
Based on the true, if veiled, account of the tragedy that befell Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary and his semi-psychotic son, Crown Prince Rudolf, who ended up shooting his 17-year-old mistress before turning his gun on himself, it is replete with sex, death, guns, drugs and politics.
Not the usual subjects for dance but Mayerling isn't your usual ballet.
MacMillan's last great narrative work goes far beyond the customary tropes of classical dance to produce one of the defining masterpieces of 20th century ballet and remains one of the crowning glories of The Royal Ballet.
. . .
If the narrative complexity requires foreknowledge of the story, it is a small price to pay for an evening that goes way beyond polite appreciation.
A rare and precious night of dark alchemy.
Many believe that Mayerling is one of MacMillan's "greatest narrative works" but ABT has never performed it despite having an embarrassment of wealth of dramatic heavy-weights who could deliver Crown Prince Rudolf's character with such complex darkness that it would make the ballet one of ABT's "crowning glories," too. The company completely wasted the opportunity to have one of MacMillan's hand-picked original cast members pass down her principal role and historical knowledge to ABT's dancers when it had Georgina Parkinson as its ballet mistress. Today, in its ranks, it's lucky enough to have a dancer who has actually prepared and performed the principal role of Princess Stephanie in the Royal Ballet's production of Mayerling, but that is going to waste, too.
Lady Deborah MacMillan wants ABT to perform Sir Kenneth's masterpiece, but Kevin McKenzie doesn't think the New York audience would understand the story. No doubt, he's also afraid of critic Alastair Macaulay's certain scathing reviews, because Macaulay is on record as despising Mayerling and carries a disrespectful attitude toward most of MacMillan's work.
We're missing a lot by not seeing this fine work performed by an American company. Someone needs to do it: ABT, Joffrey, San Francisco Ballet.
If we wish for it, it will come ....