Cassandra - it's honestly not a question of making a spirited defence of the Kirov, I share many if not all of your concerns, but one nevertheless needs to be accurate and balanced in reflecting on the London season.
Your point about rep has shifted, and mixes up several different issues. I share your sadness that the new regime do not support the reconstructions, and therefore accept that this makes it even less likely we will ever see things like Flora in London. But my point is simply that things like this are controlled by the impressario. You talk of them previously bringing the Vikharev SB and Bayadere - well that is hardly adventurous, as both these titles are mainstream rep. They i.e. the Hochhausers did bring Raymonda in 1999 with the Bolshoi, and I too woud love the St P team to bring it. I suggest you put your energy into writing to Madame Hochhauser making the plea - it is totally in her gift, not Fateev's. As you know Paris in 2010 will get the new Humpbacked Horse - so it is not the company that is reluctant to tour new rep, but the impressario here in London. By the way their Corsaire was seen in London far more recently than the Sergeyev Beauty, so the later was very overdue for a viewing here...
I really do not understand your points about the audience and do not see any evidence for your dramatic claims. Who exactly Cassandra are these hordes of people that prefer RB productions to Kirov ones? We spoke to one single individual in an interval of SB who expressed that view. Everyone else was raving about the Kirov Beauty. You keep referering to "audience grumbles" as if that was on a large scale - what is your evidence for this? I am talking about opinions about the productions themselves (not about the Somova first night which is a seperate case). Of course some people will prefer MacMillan's R&J to Lavrovskys, but equally some people, like me, prefer Lavrovsky - its just a matter of personal taste. Its also possible of course to like both - they are different and have different merits. You seem to suggest its automatic that people will always prefer home versions to visiting ones - in which case you are effectively saying that the Kirov should not bring any ballets in the Royal's rep - which makes no sense.
I saw 2 Romeos and 2 Beautys - at every one the audience was very enthusiastic indeed - where I was sitting I was surrounded by people with happy faces making positive comments. I know Cassandra that you only managed to see the very poor Ivanchenko Romeo performance - I think had you seen the wonderful Matvienko and Kolb performances you may have had a more pleasant evening yourself. I think we all must guard against catagorising our own personal "grumbles" and dissappointment with a particular performance as widespread "audience grumbles" without any evidence of that. The Sergeyev Beauty has always been loved in London and that has not changed - clearly Cassandra you have been dissappointed with some aspects of the performances, which is fine, but let's be clear they are "your grumbles", not the whole "audience grumbles". And yes, there are only 20 or so hard core RB people that write on a certain other website in constant defence of the RB - it's a very small group of people. I had assumed you were basing your generalisations about audience opinion on comments these people may have been making on the internet...if so they are not representative of the audience as a whole.
Regards casting let's seperate the issue of Somova with soloist casting. Somova is a totally seperate case much discussed already. Clearly she should not have opened the season as Juliet, it was a crazy decision. But I find it an irony Cassandra that you complain so much about the pain when you never suffered it anyway - you did not go to Somova's Juliet, Swan Lake or Beauty, as nor did I. You would not have gone to every single performance anyway even if it were a ballerina you liked. We all need a night or 2 off in an intensive tour season anyway, so Somova does have her use in that regard
I totally disagree that new dancers should not be used on tours - its totally impractical to hold such lofty ideals that London should not see new, younger dancers. Many of us enjoy and want to see new dancers - be they good, bad or indifferent. We want the chance to see them to make our own mind up, and see the future of the company as well as the present and the past. But in any case you keep refering to "new boys" and "understudies" - what an inacuracy, for most of the people you saw are not that anyway! The guys you saw are no such thing - Alexander Sergeyev, Maxim Zuzin, Alexander Timofeyev are not understudies, not new young guys. They are dancers, some of whom have been in the company for many years, that might have been dancing their roles for the first time in London, but were not making debuts or understudying roles, they dance these roles in St P and elsewhere. I share your wish to have seen Scherbakov do both Mercutio and Bluebird - he should definately have performed here. But presumably you are not suggesting he should have danced all 3 Bluebirds (in 2 days) - so who are all these other established soloists you wanted to see? I am not clear who from those in London you wanted to dance the other shows of Bluebird and Mercutio, even if Vassily had done 1 or 2? To whom exactly are you yearning for, or is it only Vassily? Catherine - please can you shed some light now as to who are the Bluebirds to see in the company, for example?
I think we all agree that the choice of the first night Juliet was a grave error, its easy and accurate to make sweeping statements about that. But when you move lower down to soloist roles and start talking about Mercutio, Bluebird etc it's not so simple. Who else is there anyway besides the types of guys we saw here this time (excluding Vassily)?? These guys were perfectly OK - not great, but not totally awful and certainly not deserving of being called "understudies". The company cannot use "great" people all the time, on every tour to London for every performance, if it does not have them in huge numbers at the present time.
I am sure Catherine you know the phrase "is the glass half full, or half empty"? I am tending to look upon the glass for the London season as half full, whereas Cassandra may be looking at a glass that is half empty. The balance and the truth I think must lay somewhere in the middle!