Valses nobles et sentimentales first took form as a suite of waltzes by Maurice Ravel in 1911 and has served as inspiration for numerous choreographers including George Balanchine and Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Sir Frederick Ashton’s choreographic interpretation would take place in 1947 for the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet, testing the dancers’ abilities in the post-World War II era. Later revived by Ashton in 1987 (a year before his passing), it would remain dormant for twenty-five years until its 2012 reconstruction by Webb and Margaret Barbieri for The Sarasota Ballet.
Based on a series of eight paintings by the 18th-century English artist William Hogarth, The Rake’s Progress was initially conceptualized and orchestrated by Gavin Gordon. Following her earlier success with 1931’s Job, Dame Ninette de Valois was approached to choreograph the ballet to be performed by her burgeoning company, the Vic-Wells Ballet. First performed at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre on 20 May 1935, with Sir Robert Helpmann dancing the principal role of the Rake and Dame Alicia Markova as the Betrayed Girl, The Rake’s Progress was an instant success and would provide additional momentum for the Vic-Wells Ballet, serving as a step towards its eventual chartering as The Royal Ballet in 1956.
Napoli, also titled The Fisherman and His Bride, was originally choreographed in 1842 for the Royal Danish Ballet by ballet master and choreographer August Bournonville. Now recognized by many as Bournonville’s signature work, Napoli utilized significant pantomime in its first two acts, with only the third act heavily focused on dance; consequently, later productions would primarily emphasize the third act and drop much of the pantomime component, as is the case with Johan Kobborg’s Napoli Act III production. The result is an effervescent, dynamic series of dances that capture the spirit of Danish ballet.