The big news today, much to the chagrin of almost everyone I spoke to before the performance, was that Osipova and Vasiliev did not dance today. Shipulina and Skvortsov, who are at least listed in the printed program for last night's performance, too, danced Medora and Conrad. Nina Kaptsova replaced Ekaterina Krysanova as Gulnare, and Anastasia Goryacheva, who was replaced by Anastasia Stashkevich on Opening Night, danced "Pas d'esclaves" in place of Kaptsova with Denis Medvedev. I was hoping for a pair of up-and-comers in the lead, but it was not to be.
George Jackson's description of our Conrad, "Ruslan Skvortsov looked plausible as Conrad, the pirate hero, and danced smoothly but tended to fade from view when not active" is entirely on the money: I forgot Skvortsov existed unless he was making an entrance or dancing a variation, although he was more engaged in the escape scene in the third act. Shipulina has long, long legs, and when she uses them smoothly, they can be mesmerizing, but her upper and lower bodies seem detached, and her upper body does not have the same impact as her lower. I also didn't see much unity in her character; it was like a montage of characters from a gala of greatest hits, depending on the scene. Although her dance en travestie was wonderfully spirited, I wouldn't have followed Shipulina; earlier in the week I would have followed Alexandrova anywhere. Nina Kaptsova did steal "Jardin Anime" from her.
I finally did get to see the Odalisques from a really great seat in the first tier. I thought that Anna Leonova's third Odalisque was a bit harsh. Olga Stebletsova's First was finely danced, but it was Anna Tikhomirova's Second that was a standout of musicality and expansiveness. She spun the variation, despite a quick slip in the opening diagonal. (At least according to the program it was: another Ballet Talker at the performance questioned whether it was she who danced.)
I was glad to have seen Goryacheva's "Pas d'eclaves"; she gave a joyful interpretation, and it was a privilege to see Denis Medvedev again, with his soft, catlike jumps out of deep plie, and the way he almost seem to go into slow motion on the corkscrew turning jumps, which seemed to nudge higher after the initial leaps.
Andrey Merkuriev and Anna Antropova lit up the house in "Danse des forbans", beautifully supported by Anna Nakhapetova, Ksenia Sorokina, Evgeny Golovin, and Alexander Vodopetov.
to Gennady Yanin, Alexei Loparevich, and Alexander Petukhov for the beautiful characterizations and mime as Lanquedem, Pasha, and Eunuch.
Part of it could be that the weeknights here are usually triple bills, and the subscribers could be of the I Hate Full-Lengths persuasion, and part of it, I think, is that our audience here is simply not used to full-length productions and especially mime scenes. We seem to hate character dance here -- not sure why (back in the bad old days of the Cold War, when the Eastern Bloc national companies appeared here regularly, they danced to full houses in the Concert Hall, but perhaps those people don't like ballet.)
Today's audience tried to prove you wrong, by giving quite loud ovations to all of the pirate dancing and the "Danse des forbans", enough so that the orchestra started to play before the clapping ended. The first scene of the first act flew by. Even the character actors seemed to be appreciated, with all of their mime. The kids around me loved the Pasha and the head eunuch, in blue, who I don't remember getting a bow, and the young twenty-somethings to my right seemed mesmerized and clapped enthusiastically.
The distinction you made about weeknight audiences may be key to this.