Ballet Suite

Theater set design is by nature ephemeral, rarely exerting an influence beyond the end of a show's run. Not so the fabled British designer Oliver Messel's scheme for the Royal Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty, first staged in London in 1946. When it opened in New York City in 1949, wrote the legendary ballerina Margot Fonteyn, "Applause greeted the set before anyone danced a step." (Though five other designers of The Sleeping Beauty have been subsequently commissioned, Messel's was a fairy-tale setting the Royal reckoned had never been bettered: to mark its 75th anniversary, the company has re-created the set at...

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