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  • La Valse / Méditation from Thaïs / Voices of Spring / Monotones I and II / Marguerite and Armand

Introduction

Seven pieces set to a feast of music by Ravel, Massenet, Strauss, Satie and Liszt reveal the breadth of Ashton's work, and mark the 25th anniversary of his death.

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Background

The rich ballroom dancing of La Valse is a homage to the vanished world of 19th-century Imperial Viennese waltzes. Two gorgeous and contrasting pieces follow with Thaïs pas de deux and Voices of Spring pas de deux. The first is a delicate, emotional love duet to Massenet’s poignant ‘Méditation’ from his opera Thaïs. The second is a joyous, virtuoso occasion piece originally created for The Royal Opera’s 1977 production of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.

We then find Ashton at his most abstract and modernist in Monotones I and II – an otherworldly distillation, in two pas de trois, of Erik Satie’s exquisite Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes. The programme concludes with Marguerite and Armand. The well-known story from Dumas fils’s La Dame aux caméllias, the music (Liszt’s torrential Sonata in B Minor), beautiful designs by Cecil Beaton and unrivalled romantic frisson between the two Principal dancers make this one of Ashton’s most passionate creations.