La Fille Mal Gardée


La Fille Mal Gardée

La Fille mal gardée is a comic ballet presented in two acts, inspired by Pierre Antoine Baudouin's 1789 painting "Le Reprimande/Une Jeune Fille Querellée par sa Mère". The ballet was originally produced and choreographed by the Ballet Master Jean Dauberval to a musical pastiche adapted from 55 popular French airs by an unknown hand. The ballet was first presented under the title "Le Ballet de la paille, ou Il n’est Qu’un pas du mal au bien" ("The Ballet of Straw, or There is Only One Step from Bad to Good") at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France on 1 July, 1789.

The oldest, and one of the most important works in the modern ballet repertory, "La Fille mal gardée" has been kept alive throughout its long and complex performance history by way of many revivals for well over two centuries. The work has had many changes of title, and no fewer than six known scores—many of which were adaptations of older music.

Today "La Fille mal gardée" is normally presented in one of two different versions: many ballet companies in Russia, Europe, the Caribbean and South America retain productions of the ballet which stem from the 1903 revival of Alexander Gorsky to the score of Peter Ludwig Hertel. Gorsky's version was derived from the late 19th century revivals of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, which was itself a revival of Paul Taglioni's version staged in 1864 for the Court Opera Ballet of the Königliches Opernhaus in Berlin. It is from this version of the ballet that the so-called "La Fille mal gardée pas de deux" is extracted.

Modern audiences are perhaps most familiar with the production staged by Sir Frederick Ashton for the Royal Ballet in 1960, set to music adapted by John Lanchbery from the 1828 score of Ferdinand Hérold and the original pastiche used for the 1789 premiere.

The appealing simplicity and the naïve familiarity of the action of "La Fille mal gardée" have lent it a popularity that has established it in the repertory of many ballet companies all over the world.

The orgins of "La Fille mal gardée"

"La Fille mal gardée" was the creation of Jean Dauberval, one of the greatest choreographers of his day. He was trained under the influential teacher Noverre, and is further distinguished as the teacher of Charles Didelot, known today as "The Father of Russian Ballet". Dauberval found his inspiration for "La Fille mal gardée" one day while in a Bordeaux print shop. There, he viewed an engraving of Pierre Antoine Baudouin's painting "Le Reprimande/Une Jeune Fille querellée par sa Mère", in which a servant girl in tears with her clothes disarrayed is berated by an old woman (presumably her mother) in a hay barn, while her lover can be seen in the background scurrying up the stairs to the safety of the loft. Allegedly this quaint work of art amused the Ballet Master so much that he immediately set out to craft a suitable scenario for a ballet, and thus the work known today as "La Fille mal gardée" was born.

The ballet was first presented at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, Kingdom of France on 1 July, 1789. Dauberval's wife, the danseuse Marie-Madeleine Crespé (known to history as Mme. Théodore) created the role of Lison (known as Lise in modern versions), the Danseur Eugène Hus created the role of Colin (Colas in modern versions), and Francois Le Riche created the role of the Widow Ragotte (known as Simone in modern versions). The ballet's original title was not "La Fille Mal Gardée", but "Le Ballet de la paille, ou Il n’est Qu’un pas du mal au bien" ("The Ballet of the Straw, or There is Only One Step from Bad to Good"). The work met with public success, and proved to be Dauberval's most popular and enduring work.

The music

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, scores for ballets were often patchworks (or a "pastiche") of popular airs derived from well-known dances, songs, and operas. These scores were often arranged and adapted by either the theatre's director of music, or by the lead violinist of the Opera House's orchestra, who at the time also served as conductor (the separate role of orchestral conductor was not then established).

The 1789 score for "La Fille mal gardée" was itself an arrangement of 55 popular french airs, and has survived to the present day in the form of fifteen orchestral parts at the Bordeaux Municipal Library. The surviving manuscript of the 1789 score does not list a composer (or, more accurately, an arranger), and no known contemporary account of the original production of "La Fille mal gardée" mentions a composer. It is possible that Dauberval himself arranged the score, for he certainly devised the ballet's scenario, and was a competent violinist. If it was not his work, than it may have been one of the musicians employed by the theatre. A likely candidate would have been Franz Beck, who at the time was "Maître de Musique en Chef" to the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. The other possibility is a violinist from the Grand Théâtre's orchestra, known only today as Lempereur, who had recently composed the music for a play titled "Mareie Mile Héroïne villageoise", which premiered in March 1789.

Revivals of Dauberval's original staging

Two years after the ballet's premiere Dauberval traveled to London to mount the work for the Ballet of the King's Pantheon Theatre, and for the occasion Dauberval changed the title of the ballet to "La Fille mal gardée", which remains the title of the work today. For the first performance, which took place on 30 April, 1791, Dauberval's wife Mme. Théodore reprised her role as Lise, while Dauberval's student, Charles Didelot danced Colas.

The 1789 score was loathed by the musicians of the Pantheon Theatre Orchestra. When the orchestral parts were rediscovered in 1959 by the ballet historian and musicologist Ivor Guest and the conductor John Lanchbery, they were found to be covered with comments ranging from the witty to the crude. In the original manuscript the title of the ballet was sprawled atop the pages. The lead violinist (then the conductor) of the first London performance, crossed out the title, and in its place wrote "Filly-Me-Gardy".

Eugène Hus, creator of the role of Colas, staged Dauberval's "La Fille mal gardée" in 1803 at the old Paris Opéra, the Salle de la rue de Richelieu, predecessor of the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique. Prior to this production, Hus utilized the ballet's libretto in 1796 for a comic opera titled "Lise et Colin", which was set to the music of Pierre Gaveaux.

Jean-Pierre Aumer's new version to the music of Hérold

The choreographer Jean-Pierre Aumer, a student of Dauberval, continuously revised Hus's 1803 production throughout his career as Ballet Master at the Paris Opéra. He then traveled to Vienna in 1809 to mount the work for the Ballett des imperialen Hoftheater nächst der Burg.

On 17 November, 1828, Aumer presented a completely new version of "La Fille mal gardée" at the Paris Opéra especially for the Ballerina Pauline Montessu. For this revival the composer Ferdinand Hérold created an adaptation of the original score of 1789. Hérold also "borrowed" many themes from the operas of such composers as Jean Paul Egide Martini and Gaetano Donizetti.

The Fanny Elssler pas de deux

In 1837, the great Austrian Ballerina Fanny Elssler made her debut at the Paris Opéra in Aumer's production of "La Fille mal gardée". As was the custom of the time, Ballerinas often commissioned new "Pas" and variations to be interpolated into already existing ballets for their own performances. Making use of the extensive archives in the Paris Opéra's library, the Ballerina selected her favorite airs from Donizetti's extremely popular score for the opera "L'Elisir d'Amore". The library's copyist Aimé-Ambroise-Simon Leborne assembled and orchestrated the music for her.

Elssler's "Grand pas" was resurrected by the musicologist and historian Ivor Guest for Sir Frederick Ashton's 1960 revival of "La Fille mal gardée" for the Royal Ballet.

Paul Taglioni's new version to the music of Hertel

The Italian choreographer Paul Taglioni, uncle of the legendary Marie, was engaged as Balletmaster to the Court Opera Ballet of the Königliches Opernhaus in Berlin from 1852-1866. On 7 November, 1864, Taglioni presented his own completely new staging of "La Fille mal gardée" under the title "Das schlecht bewachte Mädchen" ("The Badly Guarded Girl"). For this production Taglioni commissioned an entirely new score from the Königliches Opernhaus's resident composer of ballet music Peter Ludwig Hertel. This production premiered to a resounding success, and was retained in the repertory of the ballet in Berlin for many years.

In May 1876, the great Italian Ballerina Virginia Zucchi made her debut in Taglioni's production in Berlin. The celebrated Ballerina triumphed in the role of Lise, revitalizing the work with her expressive portrayal.

"La Fille mal gardée" in Russia

"La Fille mal gardée" was staged for the first time in Russia by the Ballet Master Giuseppe Solomoni for the Ballet of the Moscow Imperial Bolshoi Theatre (now known as the Bolshoi Ballet) in 1800, a production that was later revised by Solomoni's successor, Jean Lamiral in 1808. Both productions utilized the original "pastiche" score of 1789, likely in adaptations prepared for each respective staging.

The first production of "La Fille mal gardée" to be performed by the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet was staged by Jean Dauberval's student Charles Didelot, who performed the role of Colas in the London revival of 1791. Didelot—who served as "Maître de Ballet" to the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres from 1801-1811 and 1816-1837—presented his version of "La Fille mal gardée" on OldStyleDate|2 October|1818|20 September at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre, under the title "La Précaution inutile, ou Lise et Colin" ("Vain Precautions, or Lise and Colin"). The work was set to music by the composer Catterino Cavos.

A production of Jean-Pierre Aumer's 1828 version of "La Fille mal gardée", set to the music of Hérold, was first staged in Russia at the Moscow Imperial Bolshoi Theatre in 1845 by the Balletmaster Irakly Nikitin. The great choreographer Jules Perrot—"Premier Maître de Ballet" of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres from 1850-1859—staged his own version of Aumer's production for the company in 1854, and for this production added new music to the ballet by the composer Cesare Pugni. Perrot's staging was given for the last time in 1880 for a benefit performance for the Imperial Ballet's "Premier danseur" Pavel Gerdt.

Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov's revival

The Ballerina Virginia Zucchi toured St. Petersburg in 1885, performing successfully in various theatres throughout the Imperial capital. In August of that year, the Ballerina was invited by Tsar Alexander III himself to perform with the Imperial Ballet. It was decided that Paul Taglioni's 1864 version of "La Fille mal gardée" to the music of Hertel would be revived especially for her début by the choreographer Marius Petipa and the Imperial Theatre's "Second Maître de Ballet" Lev Ivanov, while Zucchi herself would assist in the staging of some of the dances she had known from the Berlin staging. For the occasion the composer Ludwig Minkus composed two additional variations for Zucchi, with choreography by Petipa. The ballet was staged under the title "La Précaution inutile" ("Vain Precautions").

The Petipa/Ivanov revival premiered on OldStyleDate|28 December|1885|16 December. Zucchi's performance as Lise instantly became a legend in Russia, where she was soon known as "The Divine Virginia". During the famous mimed scene known as "When I'm Married", it was said that Zucchi's charming and emotional performance made such an impression that it brought many in the audience to tears. The Ballerina was much celebrated for the famous "Pas de ruban", for which Lise and Colas dance a "pas" elaborated by the use of ribbons, with Colas pretending to be a Horse and Lise running along.

After Zucchi left the stage of the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre (principal theatre of the Imperial Ballet and Opera until 1886), Lev Ivanov mounted an abriged version of "La Fille mal gardée" for performances at the Imperial Theatre of Krasnoe Selo in the summer of 1888. The role of Lise was performed by the Ballerina Alexandra Vinogradova, who reprised the role in October of that same year on the stage of the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre (principal theatre of the Imperial Ballet and Opera from 1886). This was the last performance of the ballet until 1894, when Ivanov again revived the ballet for the visiting German Ballerina Hedwige Hantenbürg. Thereafter the work found a permanent place in the Imperial Ballet's repertory.

"La Fille mal gardée" proved to be a useful vehicle for the great Ballerinas of the old Imperial stage, most notably Olga Preobrajenskaya, Anna Pavlova and Tamara Karsavina. For some time the first Russian "Prima ballerina assoluta" Mathilde Kschessinskaya did not allow any other Ballerina to perform the role of Lise (as she had done with Petipa's "The Pharaoh's Daughter" and his revival of Perrot's "La Esmeralda").

A feature of the Ivanov production was the use of live chickens on stage. One evening when Preobrajenskaya danced the role of Lise, her rival, Kschessinskaya, let all of the chickens out of their coups during her variation, with many of them landing in the orchestra pit and even on the laps of many of the musicians. Preobrajenskaya kept on dancing as if nothing happened.

By the turn of the 20th century, the St. Petersburg edition of Hertel's score for "La Fille mal gardée" had acquired musical interpolations from many different composers — Cesare Pugni, Ludwig Minkus, Léo Delibes, Riccardo Drigo and Anton Rubinstein.

The difficulties brought upon the Russian ballet as a result of the 1917 Russian revolution caused a substantial number of works in the Imperial Ballet's repertory to cease being performed, with many of them leaving the stage forever. The Imperial Ballet's production of "La Fille mal gardée" was performed for the last time on OldStyleDate|10 October|1917|27 Sebtember, only one month prior to the October revolution, with the Ballerina Elsa Vill as Lise.

The Notation of the Imperial Ballet's Production

As with many of the works that comprised the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet's repertory at the turn of the 20th century, the Petipa/Ivanov/Hertel production of "La Fille mal gardée" was notated in the Stepanov method of choreographic notation by the company's régisseur Nicholas Sergeyev and his team of notators. Sergeyev brought these notations with him when he left Russia in 1917, and utilized them to mount such ballets as the Petipa/Ivanov "Swan Lake", Petipa's "The Sleeping Beauty", the Imperial Ballet's original 1892 "The Nutcracker", the Petipa/Ivanov/Cecchetti "Coppélia", and Petipa's definitive "Giselle" for the first time outside of Russia, primarily for the Royal Ballet.

Today all of these notations, including those for the Imperial Ballet's production of "La Fille mal gardée", are part of a collection known as the Sergeyev Collection which is today housed in the theatre collection of the Harvard University Library. To date, no ballet company has utilized the notations and the accompanying piano reduction of Hertel's score for "La Fille mal gardée" to reconstruct the choreography.

Alexander Gorsky's revival

On OldStyleDate|20 December|1903|7 December, an important revival of "La Fille mal gardée" premiered at the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. This version was staged by Alexander Gorsky, a former danseur of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres who had had recently been appointed "Premier Maître de Ballet" of the Moscow troupe. Gorsky's 1903 version was based on the Petipa/Ivanov production he had learned during his career in St. Petersburg. It is this version that would eventually serve as the basis for nearly every production mounted in Russia, Europe and the Americas for many decades.

"La Fille mal gardée pas de deux"

For his revival of 1903 Alexander Gorsky created a new version of the "Grand pas de deux" of the second act which included pieces interpolated from other works. Gorsky added a variation for the character Lise taken from Riccardo Drigo's score for Petipa's 1900 ballet "Harlequinade", along with a new "coda" to music taken from Johann Armsheimer's score for Petipa's 1896 ballet "Le Halte de cavalerie". Gorsky's version of this "pas de deux"—which was much revised in Soviet Russia—is today the standard, and has become a staple in gala performances and on the ballet competition circuit under the title "La Fille mal gardée pas de deux". The piece is often performed by graduates of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in Gorsky's version.

"La Fille mal gardée" in the 20th century

The first performances of the Russian "La Fille mal gardée" (i.e. derived from Petipa and Ivanov's revivals) in the west were presented by the touring company of the legendary Ballerina Anna Pavlova, one of the most celebrated interpreters of the role of Lise, who while touring London in 1912 performed in an abriged version of the ballet.

In 1930 the choreographers Asaf Messerer and Igor Moiseyev mounted a new version "La Fille mal gardée" for the Bolshoi Ballet, which was based on the 1903 edition by Gorsky. For this production Messerer and Moiseyev added a new act to the ballet titled "The Wedding of Lise and Colas", set to an arrangement of music taken from Glinka's "Orpheus". Messerer and Moiseyev's version remained in the Bolshoi Theatre's repertory for only two years, and was then revived under the title "The Rivals" in 1935, with the Hertel/Glinka music revised by the conductor Alexander Mosolov. This version was given only eighteen performances and then dropped from the repertory altogether.

The Bolshoi presented yet another revival of "La Fille mal gardée" in 1937, in a completely new version staged by the choreographer Leonid Lavrovsky. For this production Lavrovsky commissioned the composer Pavel Feldt to create a new score based on the traditional music of Hertel, which included all of the interpolated music the score acquired during the late 19th century. After eleven performances Lavrovsky's production was taken out of the Bolshoi Theatre's regular repertory, and was presented on occasion until the early 1970s. From then on the production was relegated only to occasional performances given by the top graduates of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

Since the last performance of the Tsarist production of "La Fille mal gardée" in 1917, the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet (the former Imperial Ballet) of St. Petersburg had no production of "La Fille mal gardée" in their active repertory. Occasionally students of the Vaganova School (school of the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet) would perform an abridgement of the work. In 1989 the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet's director Oleg Vinogradov mounted a new version of the ballet, largely based on the traditional Petipa/Ivanov/Gorsky productions from the turn of the 20th century. In spite of being a great success, Vinogradov's production was taken out of the repertory after his infamous departure as director of the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet in 1995, and to date, the company have no production of the work in their repertory.

"La Fille mal gardée" in the west

Bronislava Nijinska staged the first production of "La Fille mal gardée" in the United States for American Ballet Theatre (then known as the "Ballet Theatre") in 1940, a version based on the Petipa/Ivanov/Gorsky version to the music of Hertel. Nijinska's version was revived in 1941 under the title "The Wayward Daughter", and in 1942 under the title "Naughty Lisette". The 1942 production was revised by Dimitri Romanoff in 1949, and was retained in the repertory of the company for many years. Romanoff returned to stage a new version of the ballet for the company in 1972, with the great Ballerina Natalia Makarova as Lise. The Romanoff production proved to be a popular piece in the repertory of American Ballet Theatre, who retained the production until 1984. Many famous dancers, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, Susan Jaffe, Cynthia Gregory, Fernando Bujones and Marianna Tcherkassky to name but a small few, triumphed in the lead roles of the ballet. Today the company includes Sir Frederick Ashton's version in their active repertory (originally staged for the Royal Ballet in 1960), though the "La Fille mal gardée pas de deux" is often performed during gala performances.

In 1942 the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo presented their first production of "La Fille Mal Gardée", staged by the former Ballerina of the Imperial Ballet Alexandra Balachova in a version largely based on Alexander Gorsky's production derived from the Petipa/Ivanov staging of the late 19th century.

Many of the dancers who worked with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo went on to have successful careers as choreographers, teachers, and balletmasters abroad, and would use Balachova's version as a basis for many revivals throughout the world. The celebrated Ballerina Alicia Alonso danced Balachova's staging of "La Fille mal gardée" throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and she would go on to stage her own version of the work for the Cuban Ballet in 1964. As a result the majority of ballet companies in the Caribbean and South America regularly perform productions derived from Alonso's staging to the music of Hertel.

In 1985 Claude Bessy staged her version of "La Fille mal gardée" for the Ballet School of the Paris Opéra, a production inspired by the 1972 version of Dimitri Romanoff for American Ballet Theatre. For this production Bessy used Hertel's 1864 score in an orchestration by the Paris Opéra's conductor Jean-Michel Damase.

Sir Frederick Ashton's production for the Royal Ballet

In 1959, the choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton began creating a completely new version of "La Fille mal gardée" for the Royal Ballet of London. This production premiered on 14 September, 1960, with the Ballerina Nadia Nerina as Lise and David Blair as Colas. Ashton's production was a resounding success that was hailed unanimously as the definitive version of "La Fille mal gardée". Since its inception Ashton's staging has become a much celebrated classic of the ballet repertory.

Originally Sir Frederick Ashton intended to use the 1864 score of Peter Ludwig Hertel, as it had been used for nearly every revival of the ballet since the late 19th century. But after close inspection of this music Ashton decided it would not suit his plans for the revival. At the suggestion of the ballet historian and musicologist Ivor Guest, Ashton studied the 1828 score by Ferdinand Hérold, and found the light, simple music more suitable for his conception.

Ashton then commissioned the Royal Opera House's composer and conductor John Lanchbery to orchestrate and edit Hérold's score. After becoming frustrated with the under-developed nature of this music, Ashton and Lanchbery decided that Hérold's music would be better used as a foundation for an entirely new score, for which Lanchbery would compose a few new numbers. They went even further by incorporating passages of the original "pastiche" music from the premiere of 1789 into the score, as well as one number from Hertel's score which was utilized for the famous "Clog Dance".

Ashton was disappointed that Hérold's score contained no suitable "Grand pas", and for a while considered using the well-known "La Fille mal gardée pas de deux". Ivor Guest found a violin reduction of the "pas de deux" that Fanny Elssler had arranged for her performance in the ballet in 1837, tucked away in an old box of music at the Paris Opéra. This number is now known as "The Fanny Elssler pas de deux".

Ashton created what is considered to he among his most masterful choregraphy for his new version of "La Fille mal gardée". He resurrected the "Pas de ruban" for Lise and Colas, in which the lovers perform a charming "pas" with intricate tricks using a pink satin ribbon. Ashton took this idea to an entirely new level with the "Fanny Elssler pas de deux", devising a spectacular "Grand adage" for Lise, Colas and eight women with eight ribbons. Ashton also included Petipa's original mimed sequence known as "When I'm Married", a passage that was performed by all of the great Ballerinas of old when they danced the role of Lise. He was taught this passage by Tamara Karsavina, former Ballerina of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres and the original Ballet Russe. She had in turn learned it from her teacher Pavel Gerdt, once the Imperial Ballet's leading male dancer who partnered all of the great Ballerinas of the late 19th century and early 20th century in the role of Lise, including Virginia Zucchi.

To inspire Lanchbery to write music for a "Clog Dance", Ashton took the composer to a performance of Lancashire clog dancers. The dance is performed in the ballet by Lise's mother, the Widow Simone. Lanchbery decided to use the leitmotiv for the Widow Simone from Hertel's score, the only music by Hertel that Lanchbery's score contains. Ashton fashioned a humorous number from this music for Simone and four Ballerinas, at the beginning of which Lise tempts her mother with a pair of clogs, which she cannot resist. She puts them on and whirls into one of Ashton's most celebrated numbers, which also features the dancers using the clogs to perform "sur le pointe" (on their toes).

Ashton's 1960 version of "La Fille mal gardée" has been staged for many companies throughout the world. For many companies the Ashton version has become the more or less "traditional" version, replacing the productions derived from the Petipa/Ivanov/Gorsky versions danced in Russia to the music of Hertel. Among such companies are the Bolshoi Ballet (2002), and American Ballet Theatre (2004). In spite of this, the famous "La Fille mal gardée pas de deux", which is taken from the Petipa/Ivanov/Gorsky versions of the ballet, is still performed with regularity as a gala excerpt, and is often used by various young dancer on the ballet competition circuit.

In 2007 the Paris Opéra Ballet invited Alec Grant to supervise a staging of Ashton's version, which premiered at the Palais Garnier on 22 July, 2007 with Dorothée Gilbert as Lise, Nicolas LeRiche as Colas, Simon Valastro as Alain, Stephane Phavorin as the Widow Simone and Gil Isoart as the Piper.

In 1984, Ashton's production was filmed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with Lesley Collier as Lise, and Michael Coleman as Colas, and is available on DVD and video.

In 1962, Lanchbery recorded excerpts of music from his adaptation of Hérold's score, and in 1983 he recorded the complete work, which was not released on CD until 1991 (both recordings were released on the label Decca Records).

The Ballet du Rhin's revival of the 1789 original

The performance history of "La Fille mal gardée" came full circle in 1993, when the Ballet du Rhin of Mulhouse, France presented a revival of Dauberval's original production of 1789. The production was staged by Ivo Cramer, an expert in late 18th century and early 19th century dance theatre, and the Ballet du Rhin's artistic director, Jean Paul Gravier. They painstakingly researched the original production, locating a copy of the original score in Stockholm, which describes the 1789 production, including details of the original mime passages. The original score was restored and orchestrated by the conductor Charles Farncombe. The designer Dominique Delouche created sets and costumes inspired by the designs used in the original. Though Dauberval's original choreography is lost, Cramer crafted dances in the style of the period, with heavy influence from folk dancing, as in the original. Cramer also restored the original scheme for the ballet's finale, in which the dancers, singing along with the music, shout out the refrain "Il n'est Qu'un Pas du Mal au Bien" ("There is Only One Step from Bad to Good"). The production was presented under the original title, "Le Ballet de la Paille" ("The Ballet of Straw").

Historic photographs



Characters

* "Lise" — (the badly guarded daughter)
* "Colas" — (Lise's beloved)
* "Widow Simone" — (Lise's mother, traditionally danced by a man)
* "Alain" — (Lise's rich dimwitted suitor)
* "Thomas" — (Alain's father)
* "Notary"
* "Farm workers" — friends of Lisa and Colas
* "Rooster and 3 hens"

Synopsis

Lise and Colas are in love and want to marry. However, the Widow Simone wants Lise to marry the dimwitted, but extremely rich, Alain, and has arranged (with Alain's father Thomas) for a marriage contract between Lise and Alain. The Widow Simone does her best to keep Lise and Colas apart, but is unsuccessful in her attempts to do so.

At harvest time the Widow Simone and Lise are taken to the field for a picnic lunch by Thomas and Alain. The farm workers join in a ribbon dance around a maypole, and the girls also join in a clog dance with the Widow Simone. There is a thunderstorm and everyone rushes for shelter. Alain is carried away on the wind by his open umbrella.

The Widow Simone and Lise return to their home. The crops are brought in by the farm workers, and the widow then leaves the house (after locking the door behind her to prevent Lise from leaving the house). Lise thinks about Colas and mimes being the mother of a large number of children. To her embarrassment, Colas suddenly rises from the stacked crops. At the sound of the Widow Simone's returning to the house, Lise and Colas look around desperately for a place where he can hide. Not finding anywhere suitable in the living room, Lise takes Colas to her room, and she returns to the living room just before Widow Simone enters the house. The Widow Simone orders Lise to go to her room and put on her wedding dress for her forthcoming marriage to Alain. The horrified Lise tries to remain where she is, but the Widow Simone pushes Lise into her room and locks the door.

Thomas arrives with his son Alain (who is still clutching his umbrella). They are accompanied by a notary who is to act as witness to the marriage. The farm workers (friends of both Lise and Colas) also arrive. The Widow Simone gives Alain the key to Lise's room. When Alain unlocks the door to Lise's room, Lise appears in her wedding dress, accompanied by Colas. Thomas and Alain take offence, and the enraged Thomas tears up the marriage contract. Thomas, Alain and the notary leave the house in dudgeon. Lise and Colas then beg the Widow Simone to look favourably upon their suit. Love conquers all and the widow relents. Joyfully celebrating the happy outcome for Lise and Colas, everyone leaves, and the house is left quiet and empty, until Alain returns for his umbrella which he had accidentally left behind. So Alain is also happy with the love of his life — his umbrella.

The score for "La Fille mal gardée" as adapted by John Lanchbery

NOTE - For Sir Frederick Ashton's 1960 revival John Lanchbery utilized Hérold's 1828 music as well as passages from the original Bordeaux score of 1789 as "raw material". The listing below details all of the dances and scenes of Lanchbery's 1960 score. Except where noted, all of the themes are by Hérold in Lanchbery's adaptation.

Act 1
*No.1 "Introduction" (taken by Hérold from the Overture of Martini's opera "Le Droit du Seigneur")
*No.2 "Dance of the Cock and Hens"
*No.3 "Lise and the Ribbon {Pas de Ruban}" (taken by Hérold from the "Introduction, Pianissimo" from Rossini's opera "The Barber of Seville")
*No.4 "Colas"
*No.4a "Colas' Solo"
*No.5 "Colas and Simone"
*No.6 "Villagers"
*No.7 "Simone and Lise"
*No.8 "Lise and Colas {"Pas de Ruban"}" (consisting of themes from Martini's opera "Le Droit du Seigneur")
*No.9 "Village Girls"
*No.10 "Thomas and Alain" (this number includes the comic solo for Alain, which was composed by Lanchbery)
*No.11 "Off to the Harvest" (composed by Lanchbery, and consisting of re-stated themes)
*No.12 "Colas" (re-statement of No.4)
*No.13 "Picnic" (taken from the original 1789 score - "Pas de M. Albert", adapted by Lanchbery). The comic "Pas de Trois" for Lise, Colas, and Alain was composed by Lanchbery)
*No.14 "Flute Dance" (taken from the original 1789 score - "Pas des Moissonneurs", adapted by Lanchbery)
*No.15 "Quarrel" (composed by Lanchbery, based on No.14)
*No.16 "The Fanny Elssler Pas de deux" (themes taken from Donizetti's opera "L'elisir d'amore", adapted for the Ballerina Fanny Elssler's 1837 appearance in "La Fille Mal Gardée" at the Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique by the theatre's copyist Aimé-Ambroise-Simon Leborne. Orchestrated by Lanchbery)
*No.17 "Simone" (introduction composed by Lanchbery for the following number)
*No.17a "Clog Dance" (the only music taken by Lanchbery from Peter Ludwig Hertel's 1864 score. The theme from this number served as a leitmotiv for the Widow Simone in Hertel's 1864 score)
*No.18 "Maypole Dance" (taken from the original 1789 score - "Pas de M. Albert", adapted by Lanchbery)
*No.19 "Storm and Finale" (though rescored by Lanchbery, this is the almost totally un-altered storm music from Rossini's opera "La Cenerentola")

Act 2
*No.20 "Overture"
*No.21 "Lise and Simone"
*No.22 "Spinning" (taken from the original 1789 score, including re-stated themes, and further adapted by Lanchbery)
*No.23 "Tambourine Dance {Aria con variazioni}" (taken from the original 1789 score, and further adapted by Lanchbery)
*No.24 "Harvesters"
*No.25 "When I'm Married" (taken from the aria "Bell'alme Generose" from Gioacchino Rossini's opera "Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra". This is the only number from Hérold's 1828 score that Lanchbery did not re-orchestrate). The central 'linking' section of this number is the main theme of the slow movement of Symphony No 85 by Haydn, described by H C Robbins Landon as "variations on the old French folk-song "La gentille et jeune Lisette".
*No.26 "Simone's Return"
*No.27 "Thomas, Alain and the Notaries"
*No.28 "Consternation and Forgiveness"
*No.29 "Pas de deux" (a re-scored/adapted version of No.25)
*No.30 "Finale" (composed by Lanchbery)

Recordings of the music

To date, there have only been recordings of John Lanchbery's 1960 adaptation of the Ferdinand Hérold score and excerpts from Peter Ludwig Hertel's 1864 score. Not all of these recordings are currently in print.

*Pas de Deux - The Ballet Experience: (released in 2002; CD Capriccio 67 012) Boris Spassov conducting the Sofia National Opera Orchestra. Includes an alternate version of the "pas de deux" taken from Hertel's score.

*Original Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra - Ballet Gala (released 1989; taken from the 10 CD boxed-set "Original Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra"; CD Pilz) Georgi G. Zhemchushin conducting the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra. This recording contains Hertel's "La Fille mal gardée pas de deux" in its traditional form familiar to most dancers. The female variation is taken from Riccardo Drigo's score for Petipa's 1900 ballet "Les millions d'Arlequin", while the coda is taken from Johann Armsheimer's score for Petipa's 1896 ballet "Le Halte de cavalerie".

*La Fille Mal Gardée - Excerpts (originally released onto LP in 1962; re-released in 1993 onto CD; CD Decca 430 196-2) John Lanchbery conducting the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. This contains excerpts from John Lanchbery's 1960 adaptation of Ferdinand Hérold's 1828 score. This recording has frequently been praised by various reviewers for its exceptional sound quality. The original LP (Decca SXL 2313) even found its way onto the "Superdisc List" maintained by The Absolute Sound.

*La Fille Mal Gardée - Highlights from the ballet (originally released on LP in 1983; re-released in 1988 onto CD. CD EMI Digital CDC) Barry Wordsworth conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. This contains excerpts from John Lanchbery's 1960 adaptation of Ferdinand Hérold's 1828 score.

*Hérold - La Fille Mal Gardée / Lecocq - Mam'zelle Angot (originally released onto LP in 1985; re-released onto CD in 1991; 2 CD Decca 430 849-2) John Lanchbery conducting the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. This is the only recording that contains the complete music for "La File Mal Gardée" in John Lanchbery's 1960 adaptation of Ferdinand Hérold's 1828 score. It also contains conductor Richard Bonynge's recording of Gordon Jacob's arrangement of Charles Lecocq's "Mam'zelle Angot", played by the National Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sources

*Guest, Ivor Forbes. "La Fille Mal Gardée: History of the Ballet".

*Guest, Ivor Forbes and Lanchbery, John. "The Score of La Fille Mal Gardée". Published in "Theatre Research", Vol. III, No. 3, 1961.

*Guest, Ivor Forbes. CD Liner Notes. Ferdinand Hérold. "La Fille Mal Gardée - Excerpts". John Lanchbery Cond. Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. CD Decca 430 196-2

*Guest, Ivor Forbes. CD Liner Notes. Ferdinand Hérold/Charles Lecocq. "La Fille Mal Gardée / Mam'zelle Angot" . John Lanchbery cond. Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Richard Bonynge cond. National Philharmonic Orchestra. 2CD Decca 430 849-2.

*Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet / Mariinsky Theatre. Theatre Program for "La Fille Mal Gardée". January 1994.

*Royal Ballet / Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Theatre Program for "La Fille Mal Gardée". February, 1978 and January 1998.

*Wiley, Roland John. "The Life and Ballets of Lev Ivanov".

External links

* [http://www.ballet.co.uk/contexts/la_fille_mal_gardee.htm La Fille Mal Gardée] - about the ballet
* [http://www.australiadancing.org/subjects/3061.html La Fille Mal Gardée] - Australia Dancing
* [http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2005/Winter/11/pab.htm La Fille Mal Gardée] - Pennsylvania Ballet Academy of Music


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