Darcey defies a fright at the opera

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The Independent Online
Darcey Bussell last night returned to role that six years ago started her on the road to becoming Britain's best known ballerina.

She danced Princess Rose in The Prince of the Pagodas, which opened at the Royal Opera House.

The ballet, written specially for her by Kenneth MacMillan, has been jinxed by a series of curious accidents during rehearsals which left leading lady Ms Bussell the only member of the original cast fit to dance.

Dancer Jonathan Cope, who was to dance the Prince, was hurt in a traffic accident which left him in hospital with broken ribs.

Tetsuya Kumakawa, who was originally cast as the Fool, was also taken to hospital where an emergency operation was carried out to remove his appendix.

And Deborah Bull, who was set to play Ms Bussell's evil princess sister, had not properly recovered from an operation on her ankle and was therefore also unable to dance.

Ms Bussell was spotted by Kenneth MacMillan at the Royal Ballet school. He wrote The Prince of the Pagodas for her in 1989. With her performance as the virginal Princess Rose at the tender age of 19 she quickly soared to fame.

The Royal Opera House say they are keeping their fingers crossed that Bussell will escape the misfortune suffered by her colleagues and hope the ballet will now run smoothly.