Frederick Ashton’s final full-length ballet is one of his most joyous creations, inspired by his love for the Suffolk countryside. It is based on an 1828 French ballet and the music was adapted by John Lanchbery from Ferdinand Hérold’s original score. La Fille mal gardée was a resounding success on its premiere in 1960 and has remained a firm favourite in The Royal Ballet’s repertory. The title translates as ‘The Wayward Daughter’.
La Fille displays some of Ashton’s most virtuosic choreography – the youthful passion of Lise and her lover, Colas, is expressed in a series of energetic pas de deux. The ballet is laced with good humour and a whirl of dancing chickens, grouchy guardians and halfwit suitors take to the stage. Ashton affectionately incorporated elements of national folk dance into his choreography, from a Lancashire clog dance to a maypole dance, making La Fille mal gardée (despite its title) The Royal Ballet’s most emphatically English work. Osbert Lancaster’s colourful designs reinforce the robust wit of the production.