REVIEW: La Fille Mal Gardée, Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House

Marianela Nuñez and Carlos Acosta make for a beautiful partnership in this 2005 production of Frederick Ashton’s ballet.

Exquisitely performed, Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée is a real joy to watch from start to finish as it takes the audience through the love story of Lise, the daughter of Widow Simone, and Colas, a young farmer. It is a blissfully and light hearted story, with immensely likeable characters – including Widow Simone who doesn’t want her daughter to marry Colas but a wealthy landowner.

Originally based on a 1789 French ballet originally created by Jean Dauberval, Ashton’s own take on the story is filled with delightful elements of choreography that the Royal Ballet lovingly performs with precision. In particular, the chickens sequence right at the beginning is so delicate but reflects the mannerisms of the bird perfectly, managing to put a smile on the audience’s face early on.

But Ashton’s choreography also features plenty of tender moments for Carlos Acosta as Colas and Marianela Nuñez as Lise to really make the most of – their duets are always beautiful to watch, filled with intricate moves that really highlight their skills well. In particular, I really loved the use of the pink ribbon early on during their first duet together, highlighting the strength of their bond and commitment to each other, which leads to some lovely moments.

Nuñez brings such a wonderfully sunny performance as Lise that makes her immensely enjoyable to watch, capturing the youthful exuberance and stubbornness over her mother’s plans with great ease. Meanwhile, Acosta is elegant and charming as Colas offering a great range of emotions with ease and is equally mesmerising to watch. Together, their chemistry is sincere and consistently enjoyable to watch unfold. Equally, William Tuckett as Widow Simone brings not only a wonderful sense of comedy timing but also warmth to the role that might be over the top but enjoyably so.

But unsurprisingly, the entire Royal Ballet shine in this production that is consistently elegant and colourful – thanks to Osbert Lancaster’s designs. Meanwhile, the orchestra really makes Ferdinand Hérold’s (arranged and orchestrated by John Lanchbery) music ring out playfully, making this a production that is a feast for both the eyes and the ears.

Overall, Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée is funny, elegant and graceful ballet that is truly beautiful to watch.

By Emma Clarendon

La Fille Mal Gardée is available to watch through the Royal Opera House’s Youtube channel until the 26th June.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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