Sylphides and Faeries: The Depiction of Magical Creatures in Ballet and Opera

Beryl Grey as the Lilac Fairy in 'The Sleeping Beauty' (1946)

When: 10 September 2008-6 February 2009
Where: Carriage Entranceway, Cloakroom Corridor, Paul Hamlyn Hall, Amphitheatre Gallery, Linbury Studio Theatre

This exhibition illustrates through costumes, costume designs, prints and photographs from ROH Collections how characters with magical properties have been portrayed in both ballet and opera. It is a rare opportunity to view Margot Fonteyn’s costume from Les Sylphides. Other ballet costumes on display are those worn by Antoinette Sibley as Titania and Anthony Dowell as Oberon in Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, designed by David Walker, and a selection of Lilac Fairy and Carabosse costumes from the 1946, 1968 and 1994 productions of The Sleeping Beauty, designed by Oliver Messel, Lila di Nobili and Maria Bjornson, respectively. From the opera is James Bowman’s Oberon costume from the 1974 revival of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, produced by John Gielgud and designed by John Piper. In addition, the exhibition has a selection of nineteenth-century ballet lithographs from The Royal Ballet School Special Collections, including a series of lithographs of Marie Taglioni in La Sylphide.

Image of Beryl Grey as The Lilac Fairy and Robert Helpmann as Prince Florimund in The Sleeping Beauty (1946) from the Frank Sharman Photographic Collection © ROH Collections