Natalia Osipova as Lise and Steven McRae as Colas in La Fille mal gardée ©2015 ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton

La Fille mal gardée (2015)

29 January28 February 2021
Online only
Ballet and dance

Frederick Ashton's La Fille mal gardée (The Wayward Daughter) is one of the choreographer's most joyous and colourful creations. Inspired by his love for the Suffolk countryside, the ballet is set on a farm and tells a story of love between Lise, the daughter of Widow Simone, and Colas, a young farmer. It contains some of Ashton's most stunning choreography, most strikingly in the series of energetic pas de deux that express the youthful passion of the young lovers, performed here by Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae. The ballet is laced with exuberant good humour, and elements of national folk dance, from dancing chickens and a maypole dance to a Lancashire clog dance for Widow Simone, performed by Philip Mosley. Osbert Lancaster’s colourful designs heighten the production’s delightful pastoral wit.

La Fille mal gardée is based on a 1789 French ballet originally created by Jean Dauberval; John Lanchbery created the music for Ashton’s ballet from Ferdinand Hérold’s 1828 score. The ballet's premiere in 1960 was a resounding success and it remains a firm favourite of The Royal Ballet’s repertory. 

Generous philanthropic support from Julia and Hans Rausing

The 2020/21 Ballet Season is generously supported by Aud Jebsen

Streaming generously supported by The Foyle Foundation


Lise is the only daughter of Widow Simone. Lise loves Colas, a young farmer – but her mother has far more ambitious plans, and is determined that Lise marry Alain, the son of a wealthy landowner.

Alain seems as uninterested in marrying Lise as Lise is in marrying Alain. Simone persists in making the match until eventually her good nature gets the better of her, and she gives Lise and Colas her blessing.


Conductor: Barry Wordsworth

Lise: Natalia Osipova

Colas: Steven McRae

Widow Simone: Philip Mosley

Thomas: Christopher Saunders

Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House


ChoreographyFrederick Ashton

MusicFerdinand Hérold

Arrangement and orchestrationJohn Lanchbery

ScenarioJean Dauberval

DesignerOsbert Lancaster

Lighting designerJohn B. Read


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