When I try to think back to my first encounter with classical music, I see myself as a young boy in Antwerp at the Royal Ballet School of Flanders. There was a piano in the studio and the répétiteur often played music from the ballets we were learning. It could have been The Nutcracker or Swan Lake. At any rate, I definitely recall Ferdinand Hérold’s La Fille Mal Gardée.

Aurélien Scannella

Aurélien Scannella. Photo © Frances Anrijich.

My first major role at school was Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty. The music had a huge impact on me, because it is so beautiful and I was only 17 at the time. Whenever I hear Tchaikovsky’s score, I remember my very first performance as the male lead and thinking I’d made it. As soon as I finished school and joined the company however, I found myself right back in the corps de ballet and having to work my way back up through the ranks.

When I was younger I enjoyed listening to Rossini’s Stabat Mater and I still get goosebumps thinking about it....