Soirées musicales was created for the Royal Ballet School’s summer performance at Covent Garden in 1988. The score, a suite of Rossini melodies which Britten arranged, has often been used for dance. Dana Fouras and Gary Shuker were the central couple in a cast of twenty six. The performance launched the career of Tetsuya Kumakawa, already a precocious talent. The role danced by Shuker was created on Alastair Marriott, who by the time of the performance was on tour in Australia with the Royal Ballet.

“In their braided jackets and jaunty headgear both corps and soloists suggest a military air” wrote Angela Kane for Dancing Times. “The clipped staccatos and linear groupings, the picked up pas de bourrées and the precision of head inclinations are reminiscent of Ashton’s Scènes de ballet. In the male duet, though, the circling grand jetés of Benjamin Tyrrell and the double saut de basques of Kumakawa are more akin to the ‘spotlight’ solos in Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes.

  • First performance: Covent Garden, London, 21 July 1988

  • Company: The Royal Ballet School

  • Cast: Dana Fouras, Gary Shuker, Tetsuya Kumakawa, Benjamin Tyrrell

  • Music: Benjamin Britten (after Rossini), Soirée musicale

  • Design: Ian Spurling

  • Benesh notation score: Julie Lincoln (1988)