Music: Coloratura on Tiptoe

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One night last week, an audience that overflowed into every inch of standing-room space in Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera House listened breathlessly as the great gold curtain closed to the last romantic bars of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. As the footlights went up and the curtain parted again, a roar of applause rose to the Met's gilded ceiling. Time after time, panting dancers took their bows, then skipped gracefully out of view. When at last a slender and dark-haired little ballerina appeared alone, the audience rose to its feet and cheered.

It had seen...

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