'Fille is a treasure', says Monica Mason, Director of The Royal Ballet. Anyone who has seen this sunniest of ballets will certainly agree. With its origins in a work first seen in Bordeaux in 1789, La Fille Mal Gardée had been staged by several choreographers in the 19th century.
Frederick Ashton brought the work into the 20th century and created an instant classic which has never left The Royal Ballet's repertory. The simple story of Lise, her suitor Colas and Lise's larger-than-life mother, the Widow Simone, who tries to marry her off to the simpleton son of a rich neighbour, is full of delicious comedy but also wonderful, characterful choreography. One of the greatest pleasures of Fille is the way in which the steps, though at times devilishly difficult, never get in the way of the natural, easy storytelling. The virtuoso roles of Lise and Colas combine dazzling technique with tiny, intimate details that makes their romance touching and real, while the humour of Widow Simone and the innocent Alain, more interested in his red umbrella than Lise's charms, is delightful.
Funny and touching, La Fille Mal Gardée is the perfect ballet for first-timers of all ages, but it is also one to which ballet-lovers will return again and again with renewed pleasure at every performance.