Mayerling – rescheduled at HOBBY CENTER (Sarofim Hall)

Friday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 PM

Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1:30 PM

Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 PM

Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2:00 PM

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DANCE TALK: SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. - Mayerling Second on our season is Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s historic ballet Mayerling . Houston Ballet is the first North American company to present the work. Join us to learn more about the historical context and artistic complexities of this dramatic ballet as we talk with a historian, artistic staff and dancers.

Houston Ballet’s performances of Mayerling generously sponsored by:  





Crown Prince Rudolf, Baroness Mary Vetsera, Princess Stéphanie, Empress Elisabeth, Emperor Franz Josef, Countess Marie Larisch



The cemetery at Heiligenkreuz before dawn; 1889, Austria-Hungary Empire.


Scene 1: The ballroom at the Hofburg Palace, Vienna

A ball to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary and Princess Stéphanie of Belgium is in full swing. Rudolf flirts shamelessly with Stéphanie's sister, Princess Louise, offending both his new bride and his parents, Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth. Rudolf meets Countess Marie Larisch, a former mistress, and Baroness Vetsera.

The Baroness introduces her 17-year-old daughter Mary Vetsera. Four Hungarian officers, friends of Rudolf, enter and forcefully argue the separatist cause of their country. Countess Larisch tries to rekindle her relationship with Rudolf. The pair are discovered by the Emperor, who demands that Rudolf return to his wife.

Scene 2: The Empress’s apartments at the Hofburg

Having retired from the ball, Empress Elisabeth is being attended by her ladies-in-waiting. Rudolf visits his mother, on his way to his new bride. He expresses his deep unhappiness at being pressured into marriage. Desperate for maternal affection he tries to embrace the Empress, only to be coldly rebuffed.

Scene 3: Rudolf’s apartments at the Hofburg

Princess Stéphanie is getting ready for her wedding night. Rudolf enters and threatens Stephanie with a revolver before making love to her.




Scene 1: A notorious tavern

Rudolf and Stéphanie enter the tavern in disguise. They are accompanied by Rudolf's driver Bratfisch, who attempts to lighten Stéphanie’s spirits. Prostitutes compete for the men’s attention and Stéphanie flees the tavern in disgust. Rudolf turns his attention to his Hungarian friends and his regular mistress, the courtesan Mitzi Caspar.

The police burst in and Rudolf, Mitzi and the Hungarian officers hide. The police arrest several people before leaving. In a despairing mood, Rudolf proposes a suicide pact to Mitzi. The Prime Minister Count Taaffe enters the tavern, looking for Rudolf. Rudolf hides again but Mitzi tells the Count where he is hidden. The Count and Mitzi leave together.

Scene 2: Outside the tavern

Countess Larisch, ostensibly chaperoning Mary, presents the young girl to Rudolf as he leaves the tavern.

Scene 3: The Vetsera house

Countess Larisch calls on her friend Baroness Vetsera. She finds Mary absorbed by a portrait of Rudolf. Countess Larisch tells Mary’s fortune using a pack of cards and informs her that her romantic dreams will come true. Mary gives the Countess a letter to deliver to Rudolf on her behalf.

Scene 4: The Hofburg

During the Emperor's birthday celebrations Count Taaffe confronts Rudolph over an incriminating political pamphlet on the Hungarian cause. Colonel ‘Bay’ Middleton hands the Count a joke cigar, to Rudolf's intense amusement. The Empress presents the Emperor with a portrait of his 'friend' Katharina Schratt. A firework display distracts everyone except the Empress and ‘Bay.’ Rudolf notices their amorous exchange and becomes bitterly resentful. Countess Larisch produces Mary’s letter and teases Rudolf with it.

Scene 5: Rudolf’s apartments at the Hofburg

Mary and Rudolf meet in secret for the first time.




Scene 1: A royal shoot in the countryside

During a hunting expedition, Rudolf unaccountably shoots wildly. He kills a member of the court, narrowly missing his father.

Scene 2: Rudolf’s apartments at the Hofburg

The Empress discovers Countess Larisch and Rudolf alone together and angrily dismisses the Countess, unaware Mary is waiting outside. Mary enters after the Empress has left. Rudolf asks her to commit suicide with him.

Scene 3: The hunting lodge at Mayerling

Rudolf shares a drink with Count Hoyos and Prince Philipp of Coburg, attended by his valet Loschek. He asks them to leave, saying he is unwell. Bratfisch enters with Mary. Rudolf instructs Bratfisch to entertain him and Mary. Bratfisch, soon realizing he has lost their attention, leaves.

In a mounting frenzy Rudolf makes love to Mary. He injects himself with morphine to calm his nerves and embraces Mary for the last time. He shoots her. Loschek, Hoyos and Philipp rush in, having heard the shot. Rudolf reassures them and instructs them to leave. Alone, he shoots himself. His friends rush in again, and collapse in despair when they find Rudolf's dead body.


The cemetery at Heiligenkreuz before dawn; 1889, Austria-Hungary Empire.


Sir Kenneth MacMillan (1929-1992)


Sir Kenneth MacMillan was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1929 and received his dance training at the Sadler’s Wells (now Royal) Ballet School.  In 1946, he became a founding member of Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet, a new company formed by Dame Ninette de Valois.  In 1953, Sir MacMillan’s first ballet, Somnambulism, was the hit of the evening, and from then on, he pursued a celebrated choreographic career.  From 1954 to 1965, he created over ten works for the Sadler’s Wells Company, including The Burrow (1958), Romeo and Juliet (1965), and Song of the Earth (1965).  In 1966, he received an invitation to direct the Berlin Ballet at Deutsche Oper in West Berlin.  He took the company over and staged his own productions of The Sleeping BeautySwan Lake, and Anastasia.  Emerging as the natural successor to Royal Ballet Director Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir MacMillan assumed the directorship at the beginning of the 1970-1971 season.  He continued to choreograph and in 1974 created both Manon and Elite Syncopations, as well as Requiem (1976), and My Brother, My Sisters (1978), for Stuttgart Ballet.  Other works include Mayerling (1978), La Fin du Jour  (1979), Gloria  (1980), Isadora  (1981), Wild Boy  (1981) for American Ballet Theatre,  Quartet  (1982), Orpheus  (1982), Valley of the Shadows  (1982), and Requiem for Royal Ballet. Sir MacMillan received his knighthood in 1983.

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


Hungarian composer, pianist and teacher Franz Liszt (1811–86) was one of the leading music figures of the Romantic movement, and the greatest piano virtuoso of his age. 

Liszt was born in Raiding and started learning the piano aged six. He gave his first public performance aged nine and soon became famed as a child prodigy. From 1839 to 1847 (a period known as Liszt’s Glanzzeit, or glory days) the adult Liszt gave more than a thousand concerts across Europe, creating the modern piano recital in terms of repertory, venue and performance style (he was also the first to use the word ‘recital’ in this way). Glanzzeit compositions include the ‘Paganini’ Studies, the ‘Transcendental’ Studies and his many remarkable transcriptions. In 1848 Liszt settled in Weimar, with works from this period including many symphonic poems (a genre he invented), the Faust-Symphonie, the B Minor Piano Sonata and numerous songs. In 1859 he moved to Rome and joined the Roman Catholic church, and joined a religious order in 1865. Works written in Rome include the oratorios Die Legende von der heiligen Elisabeth and Christus. From 1869 he split his time between Rome, Weimar and Budapest, in Weimar holding his famous masterclasses (another form he invented) and in Budapest becoming the first president of the newly formed National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music in 1875. 

Liszt was a musical innovator, not only through his transformative use of the piano but in many other areas, including his increasingly radical use of harmony. He was a fervent supporter of the music of others, using his celebrated recitals to champion works by composers including Bach, Handel, Schubert, Beethoven, Wagner and Berlioz.



This will be Houston Ballet’s first time performing Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling. Previous ballets by Sir Kenneth MacMillan in Houston Ballet's repertoire are Manon, Gloria, Song of the Earth, Solitaire, and Elite Syncopations



LIBRETTO: Gillian Freeman

GENRE: Classical Ballet

RUN TIME: Ballet in 3 Acts; approximately 3 hours

LOCATION: Brown Theater at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas

COMPOSER: Franz Liszt, arrangement by John Lanchbery

SCORE: Excerpts from Liszt compositions; Faust Symphony, Mephisto Waltz, Twelve Transcendental Studies, Soirée de Vienne, etc.

ORIGINAL PREMIERE DATE: February 14, 1978 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden by the Royal Ballet

SCENIC AND COSTUME DESIGN: Pablo Núñez, after Nicholas Georgiadis, approved by Lady Deborah MacMillan

LIGHTING DESIGN: José Luis Fiorruccio, after John B. Read

BENESH NOTATION SCORE: Jacquie Hollander and Lyn Vella-Gatt

STAGERS FOR HOUSTON BALLET (2017): Karl Burnett and Grant Coyle

COACHES FOR HOUSTON BALLET (2017): Leanne Benjamin and Bruce Sansom

• Sofia Selowsky, mezzo-soprano




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