• Julia Sumzina

Mayerling in Stuttgart: the perfect thriller

Few days ago the worldwide ballet audience had an opportunity to see the on-line version of one of the most interesting modern ballets – Mayerling by The Stuttgart Ballet, one of the leading companies in the World.


Mayerling is a ballet created in 1978 by Kenneth MacMillan for the Royal Ballet, London. It is dedicated to the historical events and the love story of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria (the son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Elisabeth of Bavaria) and his young ladylove Baroness Mary Vetsera. The real story was tragic. In the end of 1888, the crown prince Rudolf met the Baroness Marie (Mary) Vetsera and they became lovers. On 30 January 1889, he and Vetsera were discovered dead in Mayerling (hunting lodge) as a result of a suicide in the state of depressive episode.


The premiere in Stuttgart took place in May 2019 and it is considered as one of the best productions of Mayerling. German designer Jürgen Rose created new sets and costumes for the Stuttgart Ballet's version. It was the first time that Mayerling was performed in different sets and costumes. The German principal dancer Friedemann Vogel was cast as Prince Rudolf in the premiere.


This is the ballet for a dancer, male ballet dancer, a principal. Vogel demonstrated the main character as very lonely, controversial and unstable, but aristocratic and passionate man. His madness was understandable on the level of instinct. It was increasing during the ballet: we can see Rudolf from the unhappy spoiled “child” in the beginning to a desperate maniac in the end. Women, drugs, the suicidal obsession... and there is the romantic character of the last two centuries. Mary (Elisa Badenes) was obsessed by her Crown Prince. The Spanish principal ballerina of Stuttgart company has that kind of energy, which makes her absolutely natural in such roles, when we can see the very short way from naive charming girl to the fatal and psychopathic muse of decadence epoch.


Dark and elegant decorations of this psychological thriller based on the real story were ideal for not just to admire the beauty but to feel the increasing tension of Rudolf's mental statement. All the dancers were extremely accurate and ideally gracious making Mayerling perfectly tragic and absolutely unforgettable.

Text: Julia Sumzina, @js_artsreview

Photos & video: Stuttgarter Ballett

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