I made a few notes while Ross Stretton was talking, but left them in London, so here are some of the things I remember him saying. Please anyone feel free to correct or add anything.
Ross Stretton was introduced by a lady from the ROH education department, and spoke for about 30 minutes before the evening performance of 'Don Q'. Despite prompting from the education lady, he seemed keener to talk seriously about the dancers and the production than simply to give a synopsis of the ballet. He began by asking how many of the audience had seen 'Don Q' before, and how many had been at the rehearsal. I guess this was to judge the level at which to pitch his words.
He spoke briefly about the production, and how it was the 'tight' version before a lot of the Helpmann/Nureyev accretions. He seemed to me to be responding to some of the press criticism when he explained that the costumes and sets had been hired and brought over because he was not sure whether the production would 'fit' with the RB and therefore whether it would stay in the repertoire. 'Onegin' would have been his first choice as an opener, but the timing had not been possible with the Cranko estate.
The overall impression I got from him was that his main aim was to make a full technical evaluation of the company, and 'Don Q' would enable him to do this, with its mixture of pure classical dance (Dryads) and more energetic characterful stuff (Gypsy scenes). He was using dancers from the next rank down in the company to understudy all the roles, though he added that this was only possible where he thought that the understudy was up to the role technically without the danger of injury. He seemed please with Nunez's performance that afternoon and was, he said, both very hopeful and nervous for Alina and Ivan for that evening. He did press the point that he was keen to use the RB talent where possible.
He did, eventually, give a synopsis of the ballet, but I was encouraged that his primary aim in the talk was to answer some criticisms and allay some fears, which seems to show that he is listening. I was encouraged.