By Patricia Boccadoro
PARIS, 28 JULY 2009 The Paris Opera
Ballet finished the season on a high note, rivaling the festivities across at the Chatelet.
The restaging of Frederick Ashton's romantic comedy, La Fille Mal
Gardée, a ballet created in Bordeaux in 1789, proved even more
successful than two years ago, delighting crowds at the Palais Garnier.
The story could not be more simple; a country girl, Lise, and her lover,
Colas, outwit the plan of the former's mother to marry her off to Alain,
the half-witted son of a rich farmer.
This time round, many of the younger dancers made
their debut in the leading roles, not least Emmanuel Thibault partnering
first Mathilde Froustey, still 'sujet' despite her prodigious gifts,
followed by Miriam Ould-Braham a week later.
in La Fille Mal
Photo: Agathe Poupeney
Photo courtesy of Paris Opera
Froustey was the Lise that dreams are made of.
Exquisite and enchanting, with her light, air-born leaps and neat, precise
technique, she was both loveable and naughty in the second half of the
work in the spirited scenes with her mother interpreted by the
irreplaceable Michael Dénard. But despite her warmth and tenderness
towards Colas, their love scenes did not quite convince despite the
likeable performance of Thibault, who accomplished all the tricky
technicalities of the role with aplomb.
Emmanuel Thibault and Mathilde
in La Fille Mal Gardée
Photo courtesy of Paris Opera Ballet
He, however, bloomed when partnering Miriam
Ould-Braham, the lovely young première danseuse who made her own notable
debut as Lise in 2007, for these
two dancers are made to dance together, each bringing out the other's
best. Ould-Braham is a Lise full of gentleness, tenderness and charm, and
this was a happy occasion, full of light and laughter. Thibault's
intelligent interpretation of the lively, happy-go-lucky Colas,
head-over-heels in love with his pretty Lise, matched the excellence of
his dancing. The happiness of this adorable couple spilled right over into
the audience, who left the theatre with smiles on their faces
Miriam Ould-Braham in La Fille Mal
Photo: Agathe Poupene
Photo courtesy of Paris Opera
In both performances there was also a very
strong, supporting cast. The, as yet unknown Allister Madin, coryphée,
gave a moving, poetic and totally new interpretation of Alain, making him
extremely loveable. Dancing strongly, for he is a very fine classical
dancer, he was shy and dreamy, and were it not for the excellent
performance of Thibault as Colas, and his love for Lise, one would not
have been surprised to see Lise fall for this boy. I, for one, would have
liked to see her give him at least a kiss at the end. His performance,
which brought tears to one's eyes, was a revelation.
Ashton's work is obviously well-suited to
the company. Not only have the complicated 'ribbon dances' and comic
moments been well-done without any over-acting, but the work has brought
forward many unexpected young talents. In another cast which I was unable
to see, Josua Hoffalt and Muriel Zusperrequy also triumphed in the central
Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor for
Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardée
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