This lively image depicts an evening performance of ballet at The Royal Opera House, in 1946. Here we see the proscenium opening of the stage, framed with a hanging swathe of red fabric and two large pieces of set constructed from a series of columns. On stage is a group of dancers with several men in top hats and tails. Downstage, close to the audience our attention is drawn to one couple in particular as they are captured mid-lift – as the woman is suspended in mid air her long flowing red dress provides an explosion of colour.
The style of brush work in this work perfectly exemplifies the actions of the performers on stage. The loose and energetic application of the material on the board brings a dynamism to the work that is further encourages through the deliberate areas of exposed based and carefully composed areas of paint drips.
During the Second World War the theatre became a Mecca Dance Hall. They reopened the Royal Opera House on 20th February 1946 with a performance of The Sleeping Beauty in a sumptuous new production designed by Oliver Messel, which did much to dispel the post-war gloom. It is this production that is most likely depicted here. There was only one other production at The Royal Opera House that year, The Fairy Queen, put on by The Covent Garden Opera and Sadler’s Wells Ballet Companies.