Virtual Museum

La Fille mal gardée

About the Ballet 

La Fille mal gardée originally premiered at the Grande Théâtre in Bordeaux on the July 1, 1789, only 13 days before the storming of the Bastille which signalled the beginning of the French Revolution. In many ways the themes of La Fille mal gardée mirror the ideologies driving the French Revolution, particularly the ideas of the political philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), who championed egalitarian liberation (or individual sovereignty) against the oppressive French monarchy. This ballet celebrates the pastoral lives of France’s third estate, where love triumphs over material wealth. Although the story may seem clichéd to modern audiences, it was revolutionary in its own time.  

La Fille mal gardée gained widespread success and five years later, it had its North American premiere in Philadelphia and its Canadian premiere in Quebec City in 1816. The ballet has been revived by many notable choreographers since its birth, including Jean-Pierre Aumer for the Paris Opera with a score by Ferdinand Hérold. Paul Taglioni’s version for the Berlin Opera House premiered in 1852 with a score by Peter Ludwig Hertel, but most renowned is Sir Frederick Ashton’s version which premiered in 1960 at The Royal Ballet. Today, companies all over the world perform Ashton’s classic and feature it prominently within their repertoire.

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Ballet Notes

Get more insight into the production - Ballet Notes are detailed guides to the company's dynamic repertoire. Read the synopsis and articles and view more photos in the La Fille mal gardée Ballet Notes.

Read the 2012 Ballet Notes

Production Chronology

La Fille mal gardée
Premiere Date: November 17, 1976
Choreography: Sir Frederick Ashton 
Music: Ferdinand Hérold, arranged by John Lanchbery
Set and Costume Design: Osbert Lancaster
Lighting Design: Thomas Saunders

La Fille mal gardée was the first of 47 ballets generously gifted to The National Ballet of Canada by The Volunteer Committee.

Top image credit: The National Ballet of Canada tutus on display. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.