“In front of each fairy was a golden plate and a golden casket made to hold her knife, fork and spoon. These caskets were beautifully carved and engraved, and each one was of a different shape… . they were the King’s presents to the fairy godmothers.”
—C. S. Evans, The Sleeping Beauty

In the same time and place that the Imperial goldsmith Carl Fabergé was making incomparable eggs, flowers, and follies for Czar Alexander III and Nicholas II after him, a Frenchman named Marius Petipa was making incomparable ballets for the Czar’s Imperial Theatre. As maître de ballet for forty years, until his retirement in 1903, Petipa made over fifty classical dance entertainments—long evenings, history tells us, filled with magical effects that included fountains spouting, fires burning, oceans roaring (nothing was too expensive for a Czar). Of...