When Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling premiered in 1978 it was “revolutionary”, mentioned Sarah Crompton in The Observer – taking ballet into hitherto unexplored realms of “psychosis and distress”. It’s based mostly on real-life occasions, and though our protagonist is a prince, he’s no “dreamboat”. Crown Prince Rudolf, inheritor to the Austro-Hungarian empire, is riddled with syphilis, hooked on morphine, plotting towards his father – and shortly to die in a suicide pact together with his teenage lover. Greater than 40 years on, the piece nonetheless feels “radical”, and the Royal Ballet’s magnificently danced revival is completely “engrossing”. With a rating of Liszt excerpts, and set design by Nicholas Georgiadis in “glowing autumnal colors, its imaginative, ingenious confidence is really astonishing”.

To open the brand new Covent Backyard season with Mayerling – the last word research in “aristocratic depravity” – is “actually not taking part in it secure”, mentioned Debra Craine in The Occasions. The ballet might have its faults (too many characters; an excessive amount of plot), but it surely’s a “thrilling” check for dancers. Nowhere else will main male stars “discover psychosis and fervour so painfully etched in graphic choreography that challenges their our bodies in addition to their performing chops”. On opening night time, Ryoichi Hirano as Rudolf “obtained higher and higher because the emotional temperature rose” – and his disintegration was very good. However his varied pas de deux with the many ladies in Rudolf’s life had been the “stars of the present”: sinister, melancholic and erotic. 

The manufacturing options a number of of the corporate’s greatest feminine stars and, throughout the board, the dancing is “distinctive”, mentioned Louise Levene within the FT. Natalia Osipova is often sensible as Rudolf’s doomed lover, as is Francesca Hayward as his unlucky bride – “criss-crossing the stage in a tremulous pas de bourrée”. And Laura Morera’s studying of Rudolf’s discarded mistress is “revelatory”. Her exchanges with Osipova in the fortune-telling scene are “each bit as thrilling because the love duets: two dance actresses on the very peak of their powers”.