Main content
This programme is not currently available on BBC iPlayer

The Royal Ballet: Mayerling

Darcey Bussell and Ore Oduba introduce Kenneth MacMillan’s dark and intense ballet, Mayerling.

Darcey Bussell and Ore Oduba introduce Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling from the Royal Ballet. Based on the true story of the death of Crown Prince Rudolf and his young mistress Mary Vetsera in 1889, Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb take on these challenging roles in a dark and intense ballet.

Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary is emotionally unstable and haunted by his obsession with death. He is forced to marry Princess Stephanie. Soon afterwards, his former lover, Marie Larisch, introduces him to a new mistress, Mary Vetsera, a young woman who shares his morbid fascination.

At his hunting lodge in the village of Mayerling, Rudolf and Mary form a suicide pact. They make love before Rudolf first shoots Mary and then himself. The royal family desperately covers up the tragedy.

Since its premiere in 1978, Mayerling has been one of the most technically and emotionally demanding roles for male dancers, with choreography that pushes the boundaries of classical ballet.

2 hours, 14 minutes

Last on

Sun 15 Mar 2020 21:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:58

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner

    Mephisto Waltz No. 1, S. 514

  • 01:05

    Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic Orchestra

    A Faust Symphony, S. 108: Iiia. Mephistopheles. Allegro Vivace, Ironico

  • 01:36


    Biafra 80

  • 01:44




Role Contributor
Presenter Darcey Bussell
Presenter Ore Oduba
Mary Vetsera Sarah Lamb
Crown Prince Rudolf Steven McRae
Director Ross MacGibbon
Executive Producer Tony Followell
Producer Peter Jones


Featured in...