Friday, 14 June 2013

Mara's Farewell Mayerling

Mayerling, Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, relayed live to Trafalgar Square via BP big screens - reviewed on 13th June
Mara Galeazzi and Edward Watson
 on the BP big screen in Trafalgar Square

With British weather proving so unreliable, the only sure-fire way to know it's summer is when there's a ballet being relayed live to a big screen in Trafalgar Square. And this year's screening was a particularly special one, as it marked the retirement of Mara Galeazzi and her final performance at the Royal Opera House.

With sparkling wine, chocolate, friends and an inflatable cushion, I settled down for what proved to be a wonderful evening. In spite of the many distractions including people talking, cold winds and police sirens howling, it was impossible not to have a good time when able to view the immaculately-performed intimacy of MacMillan's choreography in the buzzing central square of London. And in addition to the ballet, there were several interesting insight films shown as well as interviews with Deborah MacMillan and Jonathan Cope streamed live from the ROH during the interval.

Mara Galeazzi
Photo: Bill Cooper, courtesy of ROH
Whilst it was Galeazzi's last Covent Garden performance, it was Edward Watson who stole the show with his fabulously deranged Crown Prince Rudolf. His struggles with societal pressure and desperation for validation and love made him an utterly convincing lead character. Galeazzi gave a delightful but slightly less detailed interpretation of Mary Vetsera as a woman also desperate to be appreciated and with a youthful carefree attitude to death and danger.

In the supporting role of Empress Elisabeth, Christina Arestis had just the right cold, uncaring attitude to send her son off the rails, and Francesca Hayward gave a stellar performance as Rudolf's unfortunate wife. The corps de ballet were also superb, with the smallest details of their acting in the background of the ballroom and tavern scenes magnified beautifully on the big screen.

As flowers rained down onto the stage in celebration of Galeazzi's fabulous 21 year career at the Royal Ballet, the dancer was clearly overwhelmed at the response to her retirement. It has been a pleasure watching Galeazzi over the years and she will be sorely missed as she moves on from the company.

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