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Set and Costume Design  
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Among these were the 1947 Paris production of Francis Poulenc's opera Les Mamelles de Tirésias and the production of La Traviata for the Paris Opera celebration of the Verdi centenary in 1951. He also designed costumes for ballerina Anna Pavlova and American opera singer Mary Garden.

In 1925, Erté was transported from France by Louis B. Mayer to lend even more elegance and glamor to films at the MGM studios. Erté arrived in Hollywood with his lover Nicholas Ourousoff under the lavish sponsorship of Mayer and in a blaze of publicity. He contributed work to Ben Hur (1925) and La Bohème (1926), but his stay in Hollywood ended after only a few months. He returned to Paris to design for the Music Hall.

Erté's drawings are intricate and highly detailed, creating an extravagant, exotic world of women dripping in pearls, covered in plumes, and wearing low cut back lines. Erté treated costume design as a fine art, and his numerous designs, though often whimsical, were also slyly erotic and technically perfect.

Pavel Tchelitchew

Pavel Tchelitchew (1898-1957) was a theater designer and painter of images quite daring for their time. The son of a Russian family who fled their homeland after the 1918 Revolution, he first gained artistic recognition in Berlin, where he designed sets for Rimsky-Korsakov's The Wedding Feast of the Boyar (1922) and met Diaghilev.

He settled in Paris, where he became a member of the Gertrude Stein circle. In 1928, he designed a minimal but magical ballet, Ode, which had stark lighting and was well in advance of its time.

An accomplished portraitist, Tchelitchew often painted his lover Charles Henri Ford, an early gay novelist, filmmaker, and critic. After his emigration to the United States, he became part of the Paul Cadmus-Lincoln Kirstein circle in New York.

In 1936 Tchelitchew designed Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice at the Metropolitan Opera house. The long remembered sets had gauzelike graves and ladders leading nowhere.

Tchelitchew's design for Hide and Seek (1942) for New York City Ballet, the theme of which was children at play, was rumored to have included a disguised rendition of dancer Nicholas Magallanes's penis. His painting Hide and Seek is one of the treasures of New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Léonor Fini

Argentinian Léonor Fini (1908-1996) was often associated with the Surrealist movement, yet developed her own distinctive style. Her work has a strange and visionary cast reminiscent of the Symbolists.

Among her other design work, Fini did costumes for her close friend Jean Genet's only ballet, Adam Miroir, which premiered in Paris in 1947. This ballet, danced to music by Darius Milhaud, highlighted the doubling themes from Genet's novel Querelle. Surrealist Paul Delvaux did the sets.

Christian Bérard

Genet himself was very much influenced by Jean Cocteau's circle, which included designer Christian Bérard (1902-1947), known simply as Bébé. Although Bérard was not immediately taken up by Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes, he made a name for himself in the French theater. He was particularly known for his subtle, nostalgic use of color in designs for such works as Cotillion (1930) for George Balanchine and Molière's Les Fourberies de Scapin (1947).

Bérard and his lover Boris Kochno (1904-1990), who directed the Ballets Russes and was co-founder of the Ballet des Champs Elysées, were the most prominent openly gay couple in French theater during the 1930s and 1940s. Perhaps Bérard's greatest achievement was his lustrous, magical designs for Jean Cocteau's film Beauty and the Beast (1946).

Oliver Messel

For almost three decades Oliver Messel (1904-1978) was Britain's most celebrated theatrical designer. He created lavish costumes and sets for ballet and stage productions in the country's most prestigious venues.

Messel first started out under the tutelage of homosexual English painter and portraitist Glyn Philpot. He was then taken under the wing of French designer Christian Bérard, with whom he shared a similar sense of color and unerring use of fabrics.

Messel's first commission was to design the masks for a London production of Diaghilev's ballet Zephyr et Flore (1925). He then achieved great acclaim with his white on white set for Offenbach's comic opera Helen (1932). He won a Tony award for House of Flowers (1935) on Broadway and received acclaim for the elaborate royal box decorations for the premiere of Benjamin Britten's opera Gloriana (1953), presented in the presence of the new queen, Elizabeth II.

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