Set to Aram Khachaturian’s superb score, Spartacus stars Igor Tsvirko in the title role, with Anna Nikulina as his wife Phrygia. The cunning and treacherous Aegina is danced by Svetlana Zakharova, Artemy Belyakov is Crassus, Denis Savin takes the role of a Gladiator, and the production features the Corps of the Bolshoi Ballet.
Aram Khachaturian was regarded by UNESCO as one of the foremost composers of the 20th century, who achieved great success with his Piano Concerto in 1936, his Violin Concerto in 1940, and his ballet Gayane in 1942. His most significant composition, though, is considered to be Spartacus which he wrote in 1954, basing it on an original concept for the ballet by the well-known theatre critic Nikolai Volkov. Volkov drew his inspiration from a novel by Raffaelo Giovagnolli about a Roman slave revolt during the 1st century BC.
In Imperial Rome, ruled by Marcus Licinius Crassus, Spartacus – a Thracian warrior captured in battle – has been separated from his wife Phrygia by slave dealers. Spartacus, inspired by his love for Phrygia and his desire for freedom, incites his fellow slaves to revolt against their Roman oppressors, but the treacherous Aegina, seeking to conquer Crassus, thwarts the plans of Spartacus. The uprising is defeated by the legions of Crassus, and Spartacus is slain.
Spartacus was premiered by the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1956, but the production, with choreography by Leonid Yakobson, wasn’t particularly successful. A second, more successful, staging was presented at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1958 by the distinguished ballet-master Igor Moiseev, but it wasn’t until 1968 that a revised and definitive version was staged by the Bolshoi Ballet with libretto and choreography by the legendary dancer and choreographer Yuri Grigorovich who dominated the Russian ballet scene for over 30 years. Grigorovich became ballet master of the Kirov Ballet in 1962, and two years later was appointed chief choreographer and artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, a role he held until 1995. Grigorovich’s revision is the version that the Bolshoi performs in this cinema production.
Spartacus will be screened live in cinemas on Thursday, 7th November. To find your local cinema and screening times, follow this link. For information on the rest of the season’s performances, follow this link.
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