(click image to enlarge)
Jean Dauberval created the first version of La fille mal gardée, the classic ballet of French village love, for the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux as early as 1789. Danced to music based on popular French airs, it was regularly revived during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Then in 1828, Dauberval’s pupil, Jean-Pierre Aumer, produced a new version for the Paris Opéra, with a score by Ferdinand Hérold that adapted the original music. Notable among other nineteenth-century productions was that by Paul Taglioni for the Könliches Opernhaus, Berlin, in 1864, which had a new score by Peter Ludwig Hertel. Hertel’s score would become the default in both Russia and the west for a century after. however, when Frederick Ashton created his new version for the Royal Ballet in 1959, he chose to return to Hérold’s score – in an arrangement by John Lanchbery – as it was lighter and simpler. The charm and wit in music and choreography was matched by the designs of Osbert Lancaster, and it is through this version that the work is now best known. Birmingham Royal Ballet first performed it in 1962.