Music: Tristan & Julie

The ballerina and the male dancer lay side by side on the couch while the music of Wagner's Liebestod thundered out of the pit. First one rolled off the couch, then the other. Gropingly, they each raised a hand, managed to clasp them. On that grotesquely romantic note, the curtain fell last week on one of five works new to the American Ballet Theatre in its fall season at Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera House. The ballet: Herbert Ross's Tristan.

Choreographer Ross based his work on an early (1902) Thomas Mann story, a sort of literary foothill to his later Magic Mountain. The...

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