Classical Ballet Aram Khachaturyan "Spartacus". (Ballet in 3 acts)|
World famous Bolshoi Ballet and Opera theatre (established 1776) - Small Stage
Running time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Schedule for Aram Khachaturyan "Spartacus". (Ballet in 3 acts) 2013
Composer: Aram Khachaturian
Choreography: Yuri Grigorovich
Set Designer: Simon Virsaladze
Costume Designer: Simon Virsaladze
Music Director: Gennadi Rozhdestvenskiy
Orchestra: Bolshoi Theatre Symphony Orchestra
Premiere of this production: April 9, 1968.
Libretto by Yuri Grigorovich after the novel of the same name by
Raffaello Giovagnolli, ideas from the scenario by Nikolai Volkov used
Presented with two intervals.
The military machine of imperial Rome, led by
Crassus, wages a cruel campaign of conquest, destroying everything in its path.
Among the chained prisoners, who are doomed to slavery, are Spartacus and
Spartacus is in despair. Born a free man, he is
now a slave in chains.
The Slave Market.
Slave dealers separate the men and women
prisoners for sale to rich Romans. Spartacus is parted from Phrygia.
Phrygia is overcome with grief. She thinks with
horror of the terrifying ordeals that lie ahead of her.
Orgy at Crassusís Palace.
Mimes and courtesans entertain the
guests, making fun of Phrygia, Crassusís new slave. Aegina draws Crassus into a
frenzied, bacchanalian dance. Drunk with wine and passion, Crassus demands a
spectacle. Two gladiators are to fight to death in helmets with closed visors,
i.e., without seeing each other. The victorís helmet is removed. It is
Against his will, Spartacus has been forced to
murder a fellow man. His despair develops into anger and protest. He will no
longer tolerate captivity. He has but one choice of action - to win back his
The Gladiatorsí Barracks.
Spartacus incites the gladiators to
revolt. They swear an oath of loyalty to him and, of one accord, break out of
the barracks to freedom.
The Appian Way.
Having broken out of their captivity and
finding themselves on Appian Way, surrounded by shepherds, Spartacusís followers
call the latter to join the uprising. Shepherds and populace proclaim Spartacus
as their leader.
The thought of Phrygiaís fate as a slave gives
Spartacus no peace. He is haunted by memories of his loved one whom he thinks of
day and night.
His search for Phrygia leads Spartacus to
Crassusís villa. The two lovers are overjoyed at their reunion. But, due to the
arrival of a procession of patricians, led by Aegina, they are forced to hide.
Aeginaís Monologue. Aegina has long dreamed of seducing and gaining power
over Crassus. Her goal is to win him and thereby gain legal admittance to the
world of the Roman nobility.
Feast at Crasussís Villa.
Crassus celebrates his victories.
The patricians sing his praises. The festivities are cut short by an alarming
piece of news: Spartacus and his min have all but surrounded the villa/ The
panic-stricken guests disperse. Crassus and Aegina are also forced to flee.
Spartacus breaks into the villa.
Victory! It elates him and fills him with faith
that the uprising will be successful. Victory!
Spartacusís Victory. Spartacusís men have taken Crassus prisoner
and want to kill him, but Spartacus is not bent on revenge and suggests that
they should engage in single-handed combat. Crassus accepts the challenge and
suffers defeat: Spartacus knocks the sword out of his hand. Crassus makes ready
demonstratively to meet his death, but Spartacus, with a gesture of contempt,
lets him go. That all shall know of Crassusís dishonor is punishment enough. The
jubilant insurgents praise the victory of Spartacus.
Crasuss Takes His Revenge.
Crassus is tormented by his
disgrace. Fanning his hurt pride, Aegina calls on him to take his revenge. There
is only one way forward - death to the insurgents. Crassus summons his legions.
Aegina sees him off to battle.
Aeginaís Monologue. Spartacus is Aeginaís enemy too. The defeat of Crassus
will be her downfall. Aegina devises a perfidious plan - she will sew dissension
in Spartacusís encampment.
Spartacusís Encampment. Spartacus and Phrygia are happy to be
together. But suddenly his military commanders bring the news that Crassus is on
the move with a large army. Spartacus decides to give battle but, overcome by
cowardice, some of his warriors desert their leader.
Aegina infiltrates the ranks of the traitors
who, though they have abandoned Spartacus, might still be persuaded to go with
him. Together with the courtesans she seduces the men with wine and erotic
dances and, as a result, they put all caution to the winds. Having lured the
traitors into a trap, Aegina hands them over to Crassus.
Crassus is consumed by the wish for revenge.
Spartacus shall pay with his death for the humiliation that he, Crassus, was
forced to undergo.
The Last Battle.
Spartacusís forces are surrounded by the
Roman legions. Spartacusís devoted friends perish in unequal combat. Spartacus
fights on fearlessly right up to the bitter end but, closing in on the wounded
hero, the Roman soldiers crucify him on their spears.
Phrygia retrieves Spartacusís body from the battle field. She
mourns her beloved, her grief is inconsolable. Raising her arms skywards,
Phrygia appeals to the heavens that the memory of Spartacus live foreverÖ
Characters and performers
"Sara Kaufman, The Washington Post - review of the "Spartacus" by
Bolshoi Ballet star Ivan Vasiliev
brings depth, emotion to 'Spartacus'
The last time I saw the Bolshoi
Ballet's Ivan Vasiliev, he was a bouncy 18-year-old rookie who memorably lit the
stage on fire as Basilio in a weekend matinee of "Don Quixote." Now, having just
turned 21, he is the venerable Moscow institution's opening-night hero in the
title role of "Spartacus," believably commanding ranks of gladiators -- and our
I bring up Vasiliev's age because I could hardly believe that the virile,
seething Spartacus who unleashed a cauldron of emotion Tuesday at the Kennedy
Center was the same young whiz who thrilled the crowd on pyrotechnics alone in
2007. It's rare to see such a young dancer labor over the dramatic dimensions of
a role when simply getting the physical demands under control is a hefty task.
But Vasiliev demonstrated, movingly, that he has ambitions beyond being the
troupe's go-to dynamo.
Vasiliev is also slated to dance Thursday night and Sunday afternoon. But
this ballet does not rest entirely on the efforts of its star. Four leading
dancers bear nearly equal importance to the plot. In addition to Spartacus, the
Thracian captive who whips up a revolt, there is his Roman nemesis and captor
Crassus (on Tuesday, the noble-looking but wonderfully decadent Alexander
Volchkov); Crassus's black-hearted concubine Aegina (cruel charmer Maria
Allash), and Spartacus's teary wife Phrygia, also enslaved (Nina Kaptsova,
lovely but not as earthbound as the others -- she seemed to have joined them
from a colony of water nymphs). As impressive as they were individually,
Vasiliev and Kaptsova were not a physically well-matched pair, however; he is a
smallish dancer, she is long-stemmed, and he lifted her with more than a trace
No matter the casting -- ballet lovers, Russophiles and fans of the
bright, unsubtle pageantry in Aram Khachaturian's music would do well to catch
any performance before the run closes on Sunday. It's been 35 years since the
Bolshoi last brought "Spartacus" to the Opera House, an absurdly long time to go
without its miniskirted Roman soldiers forming cheerleader pyramids with their
spears and shields. Those who remember it say that back then there was a lot
more scenery-chewing. I wouldn't know, but the current production strikes an
effective balance between juicy melodrama -- not too schmaltzy, not too dry --
and gold-standard ballet finesse to curl your toes.
It's the quintessential Bolshoi ballet, what one company representative
described to me as their " 'Swan Lake' of the 20th century." Former Bolshoi
director Yuri Grigorovich created it in 1968, one of the earliest of his many
ballets and remarkable, at the time, for its spare, rugged decor, grandiosity of
feeling and fluid pacing. Those attributes still set it apart. The elements of
Hollywood camp -- heavy eye makeup for all, bangles for the Romans -- are just
fun: You half-expect Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to stroll on.
The ancient world meets the Sputnik age here -- bare stone walls,
stylized costumes that suggest togas and armor. It's a fitting frame for the
linear neoclassical ballet style that Grigorovich deploys so well. At times the
women, especially, seem to have jumped off a Grecian urn -- or stepped out of a
Balanchine ballet. Yet while much of the ballet technique is modernized and
streamlined, something you rarely see in a full-length story ballet, the dancers
still deliver that bighearted Bolshoi expressiveness. The result is a work with
a fresh, sharp edge as well as a dramatic and emotional punch.
The decor also allows for plenty of open space for clashing testosterone.
The ballet launches with a crisscrossing melee of high-kicking sword-bearers --
Roman Rockettes, if you will. With Grigorovich's clever traffic management, you
can believe the interweaving lines of male dancers represent legions of
warriors. He's just as adept at crafting sweeping solos, and each leading dancer
has ample opportunity to establish character and state of mind. Groups, too,
have their own style. The Romans dance differently from the gladiators; they are
blockier, more formal, while the enslaved killers move in a gutsier, freer
Grigorovich left the Bolshoi in 1995 but returned to oversee his ballets
two years ago, after the death of his wife, the former ballerina Natalia
Bessmertnova. Now 83, crowned with thick white hair, he was in the audience
Tuesday and joined the dancers onstage for a flood of applause. Ballet manners
are always lovely to see, and in a show of the best of them, during his own
standing ovation Vasiliev stepped back to clap for the rest of the cast, and
then saluted conductor Pavel Sorokin and the orchestra. Their vivid account of
the Khachaturian score helped power the ballet through a mightily entertaining
three hours. "Spartacus," you hold me captive.
Schedule for Aram Khachaturyan "Spartacus". (Ballet in 3 acts) 2013