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Ballet in three acts with prologue and epilogue, with choreography by MacMillan, libretto by Gillian Freeman, music by Liszt (arranged and orchestrated by Lanchbery), and designs by Georgiadis. Premiered 14 Feb. 1978 by the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden with Wall, Seymour, Wendy Ellis, Parkinson, Park, Connor, Somes, and Graham Fletcher. MacMillan's ballet is based on the true story of the Crown Prince Rudolf, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, who took part in a double suicide with his mistress at the royal hunting lodge of Mayerling in 1889. Rudolf, and the 17-year-old Baroness Mary Vetsera, are typical MacMillan protagonists: flawed characters whose amoral and uncompromising behaviour place them outside the bounds of society. Rudolf is portrayed as a depraved drug addict, riddled with venereal disease, who enters into a liaison with the reckless, ambitious young Mary. The court around them is poisoned by corruption and hypocrisy. MacMillan tells Rudolf's story through a series of pas de deux for him and the women in his life, vignettes of raw emotion that veer between extremes of desire and hate. Along with MacMillan's Manon and Romeo and Juliet, it has remained a constant of the Covent Garden repertoire.

Subjects: Dance.

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