Music: Cinderella in London

Outside the drab yellow walls of the Covent Garden Opera House last week, Londoners stamped their feet in the foot-numbing chill. Some had been waiting six hours for the gallery door to open. Backstage, Choreographer Frederick Ashton, in a skirt and a high wig, rushed around with last-minute instructions. The occasion was the first new full-length, classic-style ballet Western Europe had seen in 50 years.

The orchestra glided into the opening bars of Sergei Prokofiev's score and the curtain went up on Cinderella. Then, for two hours, an eager-to-be-enchanted audience found plenty of reason to be. With her thistledown lightness and grace,...

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