La Fille mal gardée, with Morera and Muntagirov, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2016Posted on 28 September 2016
The setting of this ‘late-summer’ ballet with its wealthy farmer, hay bales and young peasants makes a great season opener, with Morera and Muntagirov repeating their excellent Lisa and Colas from April last year.
As dawn breaks, Tristan Dyer’s cockerel and his hens opened the performance in fine style, before Morera and Muntagirov’s beautifully gentle and loving ribbon pas-de-deux. The marvellous swagger of Gary Avis’s wealthy vineyard owner Thomas, who introduces himself with a glorious arm flourish, emphasised a sense of style conveyed by the whole cast. Paul Kay’s Alain showed superb musicality in his nimbly clunky dancing, and even the little pony seemed to move to the music as it drew the trap carrying Lisa and Widow Simone to Thomas’s vineyard, executing a pas-de-cheval on the way.
The precision shown by the Company was a joy to watch, with the sassy Lisa of Laura Morera so perfectly centred while holding ribbons for the eight girls dancing round her, and Muntagirov’s fabulous fouettés en tournant in the final scene eliciting cheers. Cheers too for the Act I clog dance by Thomas Whitehead whose Widow Simone had a strict but cheery personality, and for the brilliant Act II finalé before Alain re-enters at the end to find his umbrella.
Herold’s music, adapted by John Lanchbery, for this terrific feel-good ballet was very well conducted by Barry Wordsworth, and the freshness and vitality of the performance should have filled the House. Yet even this terrific opening to the season left innumerable low-price seats empty in the Amphi, so let us hope audience demand is higher for the heavier drama of Anastasia, starting up in a month’s time.
Performances continue with various casts until October 22 — for details click here.