I have heard it said that some Russian ballerinas don't clap in Raymonda's solo because it is considered 'vulgar, just for character dancers'. Therefore they make the gesture without the sound. I suppose it's also a foolproof option for those claps which don't quite make it! It will be interesting to see what Osipova decides to do. I wonder if Bolshoi and Maryinsky dancers take a different line on this.
Regarding Saturday's performance, I was slightly underwhelmed by Concerto. I love all the soloists involved, (Reece Clark, a wonderfully assured dancer and partner) but it just didn't quite hit the mark for me. I got more from BRB's performance at the MacMillan celebration. We have got used to such high standards from the group that I was shocked to see some different ideas about standing in line (mainly from the first soloists) which also was evident in the curtain calls in Raymonda.
As for Enigma, I don't think the piece has ever come across quite as strongly to me as it did on Saturday night (sadly never saw the piece until the late 90s), although some individual performances have previously shone more brightly. Like Ianlond, I thought McNally was good, but Arestis is more affecting - to be fair, I think it was McNally's debut. I also don't think O'Sullivan (and I am a real fan - loved her Florine and Juliet), quite has the measure of her role yet - possibly another debut. Unlike, a previous poster, I adore Dorabella's solo, but it's funny you mentioned how long it seemed as I do remember one dancer getting audibly out of breath about halfway through, circa 2005. As expected Avis, Campbell and Gartside were their usual brilliant selves. What, to me, was unexpected, was how vividly those roles that I consider to be 'minor', shone - the guy on the bike and the two after him (Kay, Whitehead and Ella) , plus Winifred Norbury and George Robertson Sinclair as danced by Annette Buvoli and Luca Acri. I thought the Magri/Mock duet also came off beautifully.
Some critics (and at least one poster here) have mentioned that it's impossible to know what the ballet is about (waiting for the letter) without reading the synopsis, but I don't think it matters, nor is it really the point: the ballet is packed with so much detail and observation about human relationships and I think that is really enough. After all, it's not trying to be a ballet with a linear narrative like Giselle or Manon, but it still has the power to induce tears through revealing the human condition. It also helps that Ashton is so in tune with his music. I found I was able to accept the character of Mary Lygon much better than before. My thoughts suddenly turned to the nymphs of pan from Daphnis and Chloe. In Daphnis the nymphs turn up to guide and console Daphnis: in similar vain, Mary appears, real or imagined, as a figure of soothing reassurance, a guardian angel figure, just as Elgar is in his moment of need.
Like others, I thought Lamb superb in Raymonda. Muntagirov was fabulous, but could possibly do with wearing a little more make up. He looked a little pale and the crown flattens his hair to his head and neck, accentuating his slender features.
Unlike some critics, I think these three pieces work very well together, I am just looking forward to Concerto with extra fiz in December.