La Fille du Danube

Romantic Ballet in two acts
Music by Adolphe Adam

World Première
21st September 1836
Académie Royale de Musique, Paris
Choreography by Filippo Taglioni

Original 1836 Cast
The Daughter of the Danube
Marie Taglioni

Joseph Mazilier

Saint Petersburg Premiére
6th September 1837
Imperial Kamenny Bolshoi Theatre

Original 1837 Cast
The Daughter of the Danube
Marie Taglioni

Nikolai Goltz

Première of Petipa’s revival
24th February 1880
Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre

Original 1880 Cast
The Daughter of the Danube
Ekaterina Vazem

Pavel Gerdt

The young Rudolf, equerry to the Baron Willibald, is in love with a mysterious young girl, who is none other than the Daughter of the Danube, a water nymph from the River Danube. She lives in Baron Willibald’s “Valley of the Flowers” with her adoptive mother Irmemgarda and reciprocates Rudolf’s love. However, when Baron Willibald decides to seek a wife from among the maidens who live in the Valley of the Flowers, he chooses the Daughter of Danube. When she rejects him, the Baron uses his authority to make her marry him, but the Daughter of the Danube throws herself into the Danube, returning to her father. Rudolf goes mad with grief and follows his beloved into the river, descending to the underwater world of Father Danube. When the river god acknowledges the love of his daughter and Rudolf, he restores Rudolf’s sanity and the lovers ascend back to the surface.

Marie Taglioni as the Daughter of the Danube (1836)
Marie Taglioni as the Daughter of the Danube (1836)

La Fille du Danube was choreographed and produced by Filippo Taglioni for his daughter, Marie Taglioni, the creator of the titular role and was premièred on 21 September 1836 by the ballet of the Académie Royale de Musique, Paris. Like his 1832 ballet La SylphideLa Fille du Danube focused on the romantic theme of a supernatural maiden, but with both inhibiting a different element – the Sylph is a maiden of the air, while the Daughter of the Danube is a maiden of the water.

Marie Taglioni as the Daughter of the Danube and Joseph Mazilier as Rudolf (1836)
Marie Taglioni as the Daughter of the Danube and Joseph Mazilier as Rudolf (1836)

The following year in 1837, Taglioni and his daughter traveled to Saint Petersburg, where Marie Taglioni made her Russian debut in La Sylphide on the 6 September 1837 at the Imperial Bolshoi Kammeny Theatre. Her St Petersburg debut was a huge success, with the Russian balletomanes and critics becoming completely enchanted by the Italian ballerina. That same year, her father revived and restaged La Fille du Danube for Marie’s benefit performance on the 20 December 1837 and the revival was a tremendous success. One critic wrote:

The ballet presented yesterday, La Fille du Danube, had a marvellous success. The balletmaster Mr Taglioni, the creator of the ballet, who produced it on our stage, was called for after the first and second acts. Mlle Taglioni was never so captivating as on this evening. The calls for her were endless; we lost count of them.

Marie Taglioni performed in La Fille du Danube for the final time in St Petersburg in 1842, a week before her final performance in Russia. La Fille du Danube was to be one of the two ballets by Filippo Taglioni to survive in Russia following the departures of both the Ballet Master and his daughter from the country, the other being La Sylphide.

In 1880, at the request of Tsar Alexander II, who had seen Marie Taglioni in the ballet, La Fille du Danube was revived by Petipa for the Prima Ballerina, Ekaterina Vazem. For this revival, Petipa included new musical additions and revisions by Ludwig Minkus and the revival was premièred at the Imperial Bolshoi Kammeny Theatre on 24th February 1880 for Vazem’s benefit performance. Vazem writes in her memoirs how she felt that the ballet was “flat”, that the heroine’s part was “not the most effective” and goes onto claim that “the mounting of the ballet looked quite wretched”. However, she also writes that the premiere was met with much enthusiasm from the public:

For all the minuses of this production, however, the public, perhaps fascinated by the legend of the furore which Taglioni created in La Fille du Danube, came to the theatre in throngs.



  • Wiley, Roland John (2007) A Century of Russian Ballet. Alton, Hampshire, UK: Dance Books Ltd