Khachaturian - Spartacus / Yuri Grigorovich, Natalia Bessmertnova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Orchestra of the Bolshoi
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Spartacus is the Bolshoi doing what the Bolshoi does best: interpreting contemporary works whose thematic origins are classic.
Vladimir Vasiliev, a dancer of unshakable heroic optimism, exceptional virtuosity, and irresistible dynamism (Horst Koegler), is perfect as Spartacus. Natalia Bessmertnova, one of the Bolshoi's most lyrical, feminine dancers, is also seen in one of her finest roles.
Anna Kisselgoff, dance critic of The New York Times, writes Yuri Grigorovich s Spartacus already familiar to American audiences, comes into its own here as both ballet and film. The inherent cinematic approach in Mr. Grigorovich s staging of Aram Khachaturia' s score falls perfectly in place...Vladimir Vasiliev, as the slave who leads an unsuccessful revolt against the Romans, dances and acts on a heroic level that is the performance of a lifetime. Marius Liepa matches him on every point magnificently as the villain, the Roman general Crassus, Natalia Bessmertnova and Nina Timofeyeva round out the ballet's great original cast. With its phalanxes confronting the camera head-on and its slow-motion shots of Mr. Vasiliev soaring through the sky, the film takes its chances. It is also one of the best dance films ever made.
Top Customer Reviews
It turns out that MacGibbon clearly knows and loves the Spartacus ballet, and respects the flow of the music and dance. Ironically, his cutting is much more conservative with this modern piece. Still there are too many half shots, which are totally unnecessary when blu-ray lets the details be seen without close-up.
In a 2001 interview, MacGibbon insists that eight cameras are an absolute minimum for filming a ballet. (Having eight, of course, does not meaning having to use each of them all of the time.) Actually, if I may presume to differ, the absolute minimum is one camera. Wouldn't it be nice if a ballet disc used the "angle" feature and gave the option of viewing the entire stage through the whole program?
MacGibbon has filmed Carlos Acosta, the excellent visiting lead dancer, before, in the Nureyev production of Don Quixote at Covent Garden in 2001. The Russians principals and corps de ballet portray both slaves and patricians with just the right touch, but Acosta brings a different feel to the lead role. As a Cuban he brings out a different dimension of the tale and universalizes it. MacGibbon seems to understands what Acosta is aiming at and helps to liberate his concept.
Anyway, I am so glad that MacGibbon does not hate ballet after all. Maybe he just has no sympathy for swans.
This Grigorovich production is 40 years old. It was created under a totally different political oversight in the Soviet Union. Although the political landscape has changed, the same production is used today with the exceptional results you can see. This, may be, goes to show that art creation can not be subdued to one political will, even when the pressure is immense.
I strongly recommend this Disc to ballet connoisseurs and to first timers. The passion the dancers put into their dance and their acting is so strong, and the music so perfect and beautiful, you will be completely totally immersed in the performance.
Cuban-born Carlos Acosta learned the role in 2007 with legendary Spartacus interpreter Mikhail Lavrovsky and danced it to great success in Moscow before he conquered the London Coliseum as well as the Palais Garnier in Paris (where this film was shot) with it. By the dynamism of his dancing Acosta gives the ballet its vitality back, by the sincerity of his acting he invests the character with a meaning again, and by his technical brilliance he upgrades Grigorovich's choreography. It's been some time since we saw a Spartacus so full of anger and hatred, putting his whole being into his leap for freedom. Although differently, Acosta gives sense to the choreography just as much as it first interpreters did. "Spartacus" has long since ceased to be the Soviet propaganda piece it once could be taken for and although its interpreters continue to move on this same outsized, superhuman scale, an artist like Acosta remains above all a very human Spartacus with whom we, today, anywhere in the world, can completely associate with. As a performance it is utterly exciting as well as profoundly moving, and it's great to have it preserved on video.
"Spartacus" isn't completely saved, though, because Alexander Volchkov's Crassus remains far too meek and gentle to portray the unbalanced Roman despot who mercilessly crushes the rebels. On the other hand, the female leads of Phrygia and Aegina are still in safe hands with the current crop of Bolshoi ballerinas.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
NEVER REALLY LIKED BALLET UNTIL SEEING THIS PERFORMANCE. MY SON AND I WERE ENTHRALLED BY THE PASSION.Published 3 months ago by MARVIN HOFFMAN
Surprisingly good choreography and production. All the principals are good. The only caveat is the sound, which is 2-channel stereo instead of surround.Published 8 months ago by Miles Montemore
This 2008 Paris performance had a Cuban top ballet dancer in the lead as Spartacus. The reason is obvious : to woe Western viewers. Read morePublished 15 months ago by A. F. S. Mui
I am no ballet fan, but this Bolshoi 1950's production revived in Paris in 2007 is worthy of watching if you wish for a really nice production and some spectacular... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Abert
In the 1940's when I was entering puberty with it's "raging hormones" a most popular piece of music on the radio (no TV then) was by the Soviet composer Aram Khachaturian;... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Dr. John W. Rippon
This ballet was suggested to me by a friend and I do not regret buying it. Carlos Acosta was a power force.Published on July 1, 2014 by MLD
THE WORST SOVIET STYLE CHOREOGRAPHY. IT'S GAWD AWFULL ... SO CORNY! A FEW EFFECTIVE MOMENTS AMONG ALL THE BOMBAST. THE PRINCIPALS OF COURSE ARE GREAT AND I LIKE THE MUSIC.Published on January 26, 2014 by Michael Stephens
I had not seen this ballet previously, bu I enjoy Khachaturian's music. I understand this the 3rd or 4th version of the ballet. Read morePublished on January 11, 2014 by operafan
Absolutely sensational! Magnificent dancing, emotions, music, lighting and choreography. The best viewing of any genre - no matter what.
Can watch it over, and over again.
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