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La Fille Mal Gardee


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This press release just in from Boston Ballet:


La Fille Mal Gardée (The Wayward Daughter)

Much like Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker, La Fille offers a delightful experience for young theatregoers

(BOSTON)- Boston Ballet proudly presents its Company premiere of Sir Frederick Ashton’s full-length story ballet, La Fille Mal Gardée, at The Wang Theatre from February 20- March 2, 2003.

Set to music originally written by Ferdinand Hérold and originally choreographed by Jean Bercher Daubervalle, La Fille is the oldest surviving ballet in the repertoire, debuting in France in 1789, and is regarded as a turning point in the history of ballet as a break from the pseudo-classical tradition. Boston Ballet’s premiere production is choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton, regarded as a master choreographer of 20th century classicism. His works are recognized especially for their precision, lyricism and charm. The Ballet features score arrangement by John Lanchbery, sets and costumes designed by Osbert Lancaster, and lighting by Brad Fields. Ashton’s protégé, Alexander Grant, who performed one of the male lead roles, Alain, in the original Royal Ballet production in 1960, will stage La Fille for Boston Ballet, along with Christopher Carr and Grant Coyle.

“This wonderful Ashton masterpiece will enchant children and adults,” says Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen. It is a love story with beautiful, intricate dancing and magnificent choreography. Ashton’s humorous characters will charm and delight audiences.”

Sir Frederick Ashton was Artistic Director of Royal Ballet and served as their principal choreographer from 1933-1970. Ashton’s major contribution to British ballet was recognized with a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1950, and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1962. He was honored by many including, the Royal Academy of Dancing, London and Oxford Universities. Ashton created over 80 major ballets and also produced dances for theatre musicals, films and operas.

Ashton’s choreography invigorated La Fille with exuberance and comedy. Set in the English countryside, this renowned version of a beloved classic tells the story of Lisa, a young woman who has fallen in love with a suitor, Colas, contrary to her mother’s wishes. While the plot is simple, the story is a universal one: La Fille is a tale of the triumph of love over expediency. Lise is also courted by the rich, but dim-witted Alain, whom her mother, Widow Simone, favors as the better choice. Well-suited to each other and innocently in love, the lovers must convince Simone that a marriage based on true love is preferable to a financially advantageous one.

Dancers costumed as chickens, roosters and a live pony make a special appearance, introducing the stories rustic setting. Hilarious characters and situations, a beautiful lovers’ pas de deux, and folk customs such as maypole dancing and Mother Simone's "Lancashire clog dance,” add to the ballet’s appeal.

During the process of choreographing the ballet, Ashton consulted Tamara Karsavina, whom Ashton referred to as “The Goddess of Wisdom.” Karsavina danced La Fille’s Russian version at St. Petersburg’s Maryinsky Theatre Ballet to perfection. In 1885,

Marius Petipa, who had introduced the concept of the full-length ballet, staged the ballet for that same company. Karsavina taught Ashton specific comic and mime scenes, which gave him historical reference, and a new focus on displaying humor through pantomime. Karsavina told Ashton encouragingly, “The whole ballet should charm with innocence and should not be interrupted with any other mood.”

Music collaborator, John Lanchbery, had extensive experience creating arrangements for musical productions on the London stage. Lanchbery’s score for Ashton’s version of La Fille Mal Gardée, helped launch Lanchbery’s career. Lanchbery has since adapted and composed many ballet scores, including that of Madame Butterfly, which Boston Ballet performed last season. Drawing on his background in musical theatre, Lanchbery came up with colorful instrumentation and musical sequences to support Ashton’s humorous take on the ballet.

# # #

Ticket prices for La Fille Mal Gardée range from $26 to $82. Tickets can be purchased by calling Tele-charge at (800) 447-7400, or by visiting Tele-charge online at www.telecharge.com, or in person at The Wang Theatre box office, located at 270 Tremont Street in Boston’s Theatre District. The Wang Theatre box office is open Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Discounted group tickets (15 or more) are available by calling Boston Ballet’s Group Sales Office at (617) 456-6343. Student rush tickets are available for $12.50 in person at The Wang Theatre box office and must be purchased on the day of a performance. Student identification must be presented at time of purchase, limit one per student.

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Editorial comment on press release above

Although I'm certainly glad the Boston Ballet is getting "Fille," it sounds as though they're marketing it as kiddie fare. I hope those over 12 who read this won't be turned off by it. This is one of the finest 20th century ballets and it's also a popular one. I've never seen this one fail with an audience. Yeah, bring the kids; it's kid-safe. But it is not a children's ballet.

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I think they are trying to reach an audience that hasn't heard of this ballet and may not be able to get past the French title.

(To give this some context: one ballet mom I overheard recently translated the title for people who hadn't heard of it as: The Girl in the Garden. I don't know about your town, but people here get their opinions based on very little evidence: it wasn't all that long ago that news people were saying that Mario Cuomo couldn't be elected president because his name couldn't be pronounced by most Americans. If the local folks think that "La Fille Mal Gardee" sounds weird, I'm afraid they just won't come.)

I think the marketers want to emphasize that the Ballet is a comedy and you'll be delighted by it - it does have a French title, but it's not decadent, there aren't any rapes, the players won't wear powdered wigs, you won't be grossed out and your children won't be grossed out.

It's also a good idea, in my opinion, to get people into the habit of bringing their children, and not just girls, to the theatre, because the habit may be retained by the children into their adulthood. And then the art form may survive.

Since there's no discount for kids, for most families the cost will be doubled to bring their kids. This press release is trying to reassure parents that the experience for the kids (and the investiment) will be, as you said, safe.

So, all in all, I think this press release hits just the right notes. I hope the performances are jammed with children (and adults), so that they all will see what a delightful, funny and beautiful ballet this is, just as the press release says it is.

I also hope Boston Ballet has the money to advertise heavily, because I believe (and this press release seem predicated on the belief) that this ballet has the potential to widen their audience.

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I think it's one of those unfortunate ballets that suffers from it's title.

I can't even begin to tell you how many people I've brought to it, that said they wouldn't have gone otherwise, simply b/c they couldn't pronounce the title.

They should just advertise it as the I Love Lucy of ballet.

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I have to say that as a teenager I turned down an offer of seeing Fille because on the flyer it was described as "pantomime". Pantomime just wasn't cool enough for me, so I said no... what a mistake, both on my part and that of the people who marketed the ballet.:)

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Hurok wanted to call it "The Farmer's Daughter" for the American tours in the 1960s. It's always been a hard sell because of that title.

Thanks for your post, 4Ts -- I'm all for bringing the children to the theater, just worried that marketing it as a kiddie show will turn off the Lollys :)

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