Ballet by Frederick Ashton

 

Music
  Ferdinand Hérold
adapted and arranged
by John Lanchbery
Choreography
  Frederick Ashton
Book
  Jean Dauberval
Set
Costumes
  Osbert Lancaster
Staging
  Alexander Grant
Jane Eliott
Lichtkonzept
  Alexander Grant
Jane Eliott

1 intermission - 2 hours 15 min.

 

Premiere
The Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
London, Januar 28, 1960

 

Original Cast    
Lise
  Nadia Nerina
Colas
  David Blair
Alain
  Alexander Grant
Widow Simone
  Stanley Holden

 

Premiere in Hamburg
The Hamburg Ballet, Hamburg, December 12, 2004

Supported by the Foundation for the promotion
of the Hamburg State Opera.

 

Premierenbesetzung    
Lise
  Silvia Azzoni
Colas
  Alexandre Riabko
Alain
  Yukichi Hattori
Widow Simone
  Kevin Haigen

 

A ballet centering on the love for a young village girl, Lise,
for Colas and the plans of Lise's mother to marry her daughter to the eccentric son of a rich farmer.

 

In its original form, with choreography by Dauberval, "La Fille mal gardée", then under the title "Le Ballet de la Paille, ou Il n’est qu’un pas du mal au bien", had its première in Bordeaux in 1789 - two weeks before the fall of the Bastille. "La Fille mal gardée" was one of the first ballets about "real" people, rather than gods or princesses. Its hero and heroine are an ordinary young couple. The ballet is considered as a comedy, a rarity in an era when tragedies and allegorical dance-drama abounded.
Utilizing the original score by Ferdinand Hérold, freely adapted and arranged by John Lanchbery, Sir Frederick Ashton closely follows the plot of Dauberval’s original 1789 staging, making it the oldest existing ballet story in the repertory. Its longevity is credited to its charm and comic universality. "A masterpiece in the greatest pastoral traditions of English art" describe critics Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp. "It combines bravura classical dancing with inspired comic characterizations, which in the case of Simone looks to the traditions of English pantomime and music hall, and for Alain combines true pathos with comic resource."

 

Synopsis

ACT I

Scene 1
The farmyard
The dawn of a busy day on the farm is heralded by the cock and his attendant hens.
Lise, disappointed at not seeing Colas, leaves a ribbon tied in a lover’s knot as a token of her devotion. Colas finds it and binds it to his staff. The lovers meet, but are interrupted by Simone, who sets her daughter a task churning butter. Colas, hiding in the loft, joins her. The work is shared and then forgotten as they declare their love.
The farm girls summon Lise to play, but her mind is elsewhere. Her suspicious and ever-watchful mother catches hold of her and chastizes her. Just then Thomas, the pompous and wealthy proprietor of a vineyard, arrives with his son Alain.
Simone, aware of their mission, dismisses Lise, and Thomas asks her hand for his son. When Lise returns, Alain coyly and clumsily shows off his paces. She is amused and a little shocked by his antics, but not interested. They set off for the harvest.
 

Scene 2
The cornfield
It is harvest time, and after working in the fields the harvesters, led by Colas, relax in a joyful dance. Lise and Alain dance, but Colas intervenes, and the young girl makes it clear where her preference lies. One of the harvesters plays the flute, to everybody’s general delight, and Alain thinks he will have a try; but the harvesters mock him and he is rescued from their horseplay by his indignant father.
The field is now left clear for the triumphant Colas, who dances with Lise.
Simone joins in the merriment of the harvesters. Suddenly they are interrupted by a storm that drenches them, scattering them far and wide.

ACT II

Interior of the farmhouse
Mother and daughter, soaked by the storm, return to the farmhouse. They sit down to spin; work, thinks the mother, should keep Lise out of mischief. But she is overcome by sleep, and Lise, who has seen Colas through the gate, tries to take the key from her. Simone wakes and, in order to remain watchful, plays the tambourine for Lise to dance. But the taps grow feebler, she begins to nod, and now she is fast asleep.
Colas opens the top part of the farmhouse door and leans towards Lise. She runs joyfully into his arms. The knocking of the harvesters, coming for their pay, awakens Simone. Simone tells her daughter to get on with her chores as she leaves to give the harvesters a drink. Lise, thinking she is alone, dreams of the delights of married life. Colas cannot resist, and comes out from hiding. She is bashful at having been taken by surprise, but once again they declare their love, exchanging scarves as a token.
As Simone reappears, Lise hustles Colas into her bedroom. The ever-suspicious mother realizes that the lovers have been meeting, and in her turn hustles Lise into the bedroom, locking the door.
Alain and his father now arrive with a notary to complete the contract. When it has been signed, Simone hands Alain the bedroom key. After a moment of idiotic indecision, he opens the door and to everyone’s dismay Colas and Lise come out. The lovers fall on their knees to ask Simone for forgiveness and a blessing. In spite of Thomas and Alain, she finally gives in amid general rejoicing.

 

Ashton Sir Frederick Ashton

Frederick Ashton was born in Guayaquil/Ecuador on September 17, 1904 and raised in Peru. He decided on becoming a dancer having seen Anna Pavlova perform in 1917. Following his move to England he took classes with Leonide Massine, a choreographer who had worked for Diaghilev, and who recommended Ashton as a student to Marie Rambert.

Ashton became a dancer for Ballet Rambert between 1926 and 1935, and encouraged by Marie Rambert he created his first ballet for this company in 1927, entitled "A Tragedy of Fashion". From 1935 Ashton became chief choreographer of the Vic-Wells Ballet (later to become The Royal Ballet). Most of his subsequent ballets were created for this company. He also served as its Associate Director (1952-1963) and its Director (1963-1970).

Among Ashton's most famous works are "Les Patineurs" (1937), "Scènes de ballet" (1948), "Ondine" (1958), "La Fille mal gardée" (1960), "The Two Pigeons" (1961), "The Dream" (1964) and "A Month in the Country" (1976).

Ashton was knighted in 1962. He died on August 19, 1988, in Suffolk, England.

Riabko - Azzoni
 

Photos

 
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