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 Post subject: Spartacus
PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2004 4:09 am 
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<img src="http://www.victorhochhauser.co.uk/Graphics/belogolovtsev1black.jpg" alt="" />

29, 30 July at 7.30pm
31 July at 2.00pm and 7.30
Royal Opera House

Press release

Spartacus, by Yuri Grigorovich, first took London by storm in 1969. It is a monumentally scaled, spectacular ballet which uses all the size and power of the Company, as well as demonstrating the individual talents of their great artists.

Spartacus leads a rebellion of gladiators and slaves against ancient Rome. This epic portrayal of the uprising, with marching battalions, gladiatorial combat and the heroic death of Spartacus, to the famous music of Khachaturian, is now an established classic of the Russian contemporary repertoire.


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2004 7:06 am 
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Until Thursday night I had never seen the full 'Spartacus', only a few snippets on video.
I thought the performance was simply fabulous.
It reminded me of those old monumental historical Hollywood movies (the kind Charleton Heston often starred in). Its storytelling flow cleverly intersects scenes which move the plot forward with individual characters monologues. The effect of the strong choreography combined with Khachaturian's magnificent score is very powerful and keeps you at the edge of your seat.

Belogolovtsev and Neporozhny were completely convincing as Spartacus and Crassus. Although there are women appearing apart from the 2 female leading roles Phrygia and Aegina this is clearly a ballet for men and relies heavely on a big male corps. And oh boy, can they dance!

Full review to follow.


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2004 8:00 am 
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Delighted to hear that "Spartacus" carried you away, Odile.


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 5:54 am 
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Yes, it was an epic performance wasn't it. I went on Friday with, I think, a different cast to the night Odile was there, and I was almost disappointed that it wasn't quite melodramatic enough! Vladimir Neporozhny danced Crassus, the leader of the Roman Army, and wasn't nearly dastardly enough for my liking. But Yuri Klevtsov as Spartacus carried the show well enough.

This was definitely better received than Romeo and Juliet the other night, and seemed to fit in with what everyone expected from the Bolshoi.


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 6:07 am 
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"Spartacus" is often referred to as the signature work of the Bolshoi. When I saw it at the Coliseum in London, my impression was of heroic male solos and touching duets, but the male ensemble sections left me cold.

<small>[ 01 August 2004, 08:07 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:37 pm 
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Quote:
Spartacus

By SANJOY ROY
The Guardian
August 2, 2004

Like a 1950s swords-and-sandals film, its beefy posturing can seem very hammy.
But that's part of its pleasure. Spartacus is a rollicking historical epic mixed from classic ingredients: conflict, pride, lust, decadence and deceipt.
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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 3:07 am 
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Spartacus
By Debra Craine for The Times


FOR more than 30 years, Spartacus has been the archetypal Bolshoi ballet. Yuri Grigorovich’s Soviet take on a Hollywood movie has always been a crowd pleaser, thanks to its well-armed spectacle and exaggerated virile energy, and it’s been a mainstay of the touring repertoire. These days it looks very dated, but that doesn’t mean audiences still don’t lap it up.

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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 10:41 am 
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Bolshoi Ballet – Spartacus
Royal Opera House
30 July 2004

After the poorly received Romeo and Juliet, the Bolshoi came back with a classic crowd pleaser that was much more to the audience’s taste, Yuri Grigorovich’s 1968 setting of Spartacus. The tale of the gladiator who led a rebellion against the Roman Emperor Crassus in first century AD is a great burst of balletic entertainment, with all the action, heroism, love, treachery and tragedy you could ask for.

Charismatic leads are essential in a production like this and this is a show that hinges on its leading men. Yuri Klevtsov danced Spartacus on Friday and he makes a convincing, if humble hero. Earnest and honourable, we always know that he's going to do the right thing.

Spartacus is a demanding role, playing at full power over three 45-minute acts, and Klevtsov’s technique is not always consistent, but there are plenty of moments when he hits the heights and really flies through the air. He also holds his own in more tender moments such as the monologues (danced, not spoken) which are interspersed with the action to illustrate the characters’ emotions and fears.

Spartacus does not, however, find a worthy adversary in Vladimir Neporozhny’s Crassus. The supposedly cruel and ruthless Roman leader looks merely disinterested for most of the performance, occasionally managing a self-satisfied smirk when he pulls off a tricky turn.

The women are relegated to supporting roles. Inna Petrova is Spartacus’s beloved, Phrygia, and seems to be a fairly submissive missus. In Phrygia and Spartacus’s pas de deux Petrova is the perfect airborne accessory, slung over Klevtsov’s manly shoulders like his gladiator’s cape or thrust impossibly aloft like a battlefield staff. It’s very impressive, if not particularly soulful.

Maria Allash, as Crassus’s courtesan Aegina has more of a role to relish. As ever, the feisty manipulative brunette has a lot more fun than the bland blonde. She is snakelike and sensual with sharper lines and figure-hugging moves, and shows amazing control in her slow monologue.

So, the Romans enslave the people of Thrace and Spartacus incites the prisoners to revolt. The male ensemble get their testosterone flowing in some roof-raising routines, buoyed by Khachaturian’s rousing score. They storm the palace and Spartacus soon has Crassus at knifepoint. But being the noble man he is, and sure of his victory, Spartacus lets Crassus go. A fatal mistake it turns out. As every Bond villain knows, you should always kill them while you’ve got the chance.

In resolving to regain his honour Crassus rallies his troops, but his frog-marching men look as spineless and faintly ridiculous as their leader. It’s up to conniving Aegina to distract Spartacus’s army with wine and women and leave our hero to his lonely fate.

Meanwhile, Petrova’s Phrygia has warmed up and she shows some sensitive, lyrical dancing in a delicate solo – her being brimming with pure pleasure and radiating goodness – but her reverie is unfortunately interrupted by news of the advancing army. Dance-wise Phrygia is much better off without her man, as, incidentally, is Aegina. In the final Requiem, with Spartacus slain, and her unkempt hair turned black with grief, Phrygia comes into her own. It is she who elevates the gladiator to hero, stretching her hands to heaven and dancing out the depths of her soul.


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 10:47 am 
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Right, Lyndsey - bad girls always get the best steps.

<small>[ 02 August 2004, 12:48 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 1:31 pm 
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The Bolshoi Ballet
Spartacus
Thursday 29/07/04

'Spartacus', choreographed in 1968 by Yuri Grigorovich to Aram Khachaturian's magnificent score is the ballet equivalent of a monumental, historical Hollywood epic.
It tells the story of the legendary Thracian hero who led the rebellion of gladiators and slaves in Rome in the first century A.D.

In keeping with the story there are lots of crowd scenes featuring Roman soldiers, gladiators, slaves, shepherds and Roman nobles. Although there are also female slaves,
shepherdesses and courtesans this is clearly a ballet about men. In order to really work
the piece relies heavily on a strong cast in its 4 lead roles, with Spartacus and his love Phrygia on one side and the Leader of the Roman Army Crassus and the Courtesan Aegina on the other.

On Thursday saw Dimitri Belogolovtsev and Vladimir Neporozhny in the leads.
Belogolovtsev was every inch the honourable hero and Neporozhny seemed so full
of cold aristocratic arrogance that I could not help but take an instant dislike to him. Anna Antonicheva as Phrygia made the most of her tragic fate and it was quite heartbreaking to watch as the violent death of her beloved through her into despair at the end. The contrast of her character's sweetness and virtue to Aegina's wickedness could not have been stronger. Galina Stepanenko really sparkled as the scheming temptress who will not let anything get in the way of her ambition. She would do anything to ensure Crassus's success, whom she views as her ticket into good Roman society and in the end
it is she who delivers the rebels into the hands of Crassus's men having offered them wine and whores.

The ballet works exceptionally well from a story telling point of view, switching back and forth between scenes that move the plot forward and individual character's monologues which allow them to express their most intimate feelings and aspirations.
Apart from the love duets it is here that we see our hero's softer and thoughtful side which makes the character of Spartacus three dimensional. Grigorovich's strong choreography combined with Khachaturian's powerful score simply cannot fail to engaged and having never seen the ballet before it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat. Judging by the enthusiastic applause at the end the audience at the ROH was taken in too.


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 1:11 am 
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Quote:
Spartacus Royal Opera House, London

By CLEMENT CRISP
The Financial Times
August 3, 2004

The survival of Spartacus in the post-glasnost era might have seemed less likely, but audiences responded, and still respond to Grigorovich's driving ensembles, to the uncomplicated psyches of the principals, to a sense of mounting tragedy culminating in the final pieta`.
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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 6:45 am 
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I was also at ‘Spartacus’ last Thursday. It was the first time I’d seen this live – up to now my exposure to this ballet has been confined to video recordings. I was expecting an exciting evening and wasn’t disappointed.

This was, sadly, my last Bolshoi trip and confirmed my view that currently the principal women are stronger than the men. Vladimir Neporozhny danced Crassus well, but it was rather a careful performance and I didn’t feel he ever really let go. Maybe this was an effect of a smaller stage, but I didn’t find him nearly villainous enough either. Dimitri Belogolovtsev was a fine Spartacus and handled the spectacular technical challenges well. But I would have preferred a bit more pizzazz and charisma. He just didn’t quite do it for me.

Galina Stepanenko definitely provided pizzazz as Aegina. She was vulgar, bold and brassy in her dancing and interpretation – fantastically over the top. Anna Antonicheva was a very beautiful and touching Phrygia.

I felt the opposite to Stuart in that the pas de deux and solos left me more or less cold and it was the male ensemble dancing that made the performance take off. Yes, much of the choreography is dull, and really exceptionally boring in places. However, Grigorovich moves his groups round the stage so effectively and the dancers were so good, that the energy coming from the stage was extremely exciting. The shepherds, Ruslan Pronin, Denis Medvedev, and Alexander Vorobiev were outstanding. Without that energy and busy stage the pedestrian choreography is more exposed and, for me, the pas de deux suffered most from this weakness.


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 6:50 am 
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Thanks a lot for those thoughts, Rosie. Sounds as though I should se "Spartacus" again when I next get the chance.


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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 1:57 am 
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Quote:
Spartacus, Royal Opera House London

By ZOE ANDERSON
The Independent
August 4, 2004

Grigorovich tells his story through four principal characters. Spartacus leads the gladiators' revolt, sustained by the love of Phrygia. The Roman legions are led by the wicked Crassus, supported by the treacherous courtesan Aegina. Women have high leg extensions, men have huge jumps, duets have one-handed lifts.
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 Post subject: Re: Spartacus
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 2:10 am 
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Quote:
Muscular Spartacus still exerts a powerful grip

By ISMENE BROWN
The Daily Telegraph
August 3, 2004

The Bolshoi's Spartacus is one of those ballets which is so bad that it's great. Actually, I revise that: Spartacus is one of a kind.
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