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Spartacus: The Bolshoi Ballet [Blu-ray] [2008]

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Unknown
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Universal Classics & Jazz
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Oct. 2008
  • Run Time: 350 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,384 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Moscow's legendary Bolshoi Ballet perform the classic tale of a slave who leads an unsuccessful revolt against the Romans, set to music by Aram Khachaturian and choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich. Acclaimed Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta takes the lead role.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
In recent years Yuri Grigorovich's 1968 "Spartacus" had become something of a problem child in the Bolshoi Ballet's repertory. Ever since Irek Mukhamedov stopped dancing the title role, they had a hard time finding somebody to tackle it in a satisfactory way. With guest star Carlos Acosta they finally did.

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.
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Format: Blu-ray
The previous Bolshoi Ballet version of Spartacus was a marvellous production with marvellous dancing. Inevitably however, as recording techniques have developed, it clearly lacked the benefits of the modern technology. This new production therefore has strong claims to be considered seriously particularly bearing in mind the quality of the star dancers and the continuing high reputation maintained by the Bolshoi Corps de Ballet.

Acosta had been asked by the Bolshoi to dance the role of Spartacus for some years before it became possible to put this into action, such were the complications of timetabling. The role of Spartacus was a dream for Acosta and he sees this as the culmination of his career and a suitable high point before his retirement. As he was 35 years old at the time of this series of performances this was his last chance to fulfil his dream role, one that he identifies very closely with on all sorts of levels that he explains in the bonus interview.

The four previous star interpreters of the role brought different emphases' to the part. Vasiliev portrayed Spartacus as a thinker, Lavrovsky stressed machismo, Mukhamedov portrayed a selfless hero whereas Acosta concentrates on a lust for freedom. In his month's preparation for the role in Moscow, Acosta was coached by Lavrovsky who also stayed in the wings to give last minute guidance on the first night. Apparently the whole of the non-participating Bolshoi members watched the first performance from the wings, presumably in admiration as well as with curiosity.

This new Acosta version is very fine indeed with Acosta bringing a humanity as well as the lust for freedom to his interpretation of Spartacus as well as his considerable strength.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
It is marvellous to have 'Spartacus' in blu-ray and this is the only hi-def version at present available, so it has to be seriously considered. This dvd is well-filmed and edited by Ross MacGibbon, however as a performance it unfortunately leaves quite a lot to be desired.

'Spartacus' is sometimes described as an 'iffy' ballet, but this is unfair because there is no doubt that 'Spartacus' does work -under certain conditions. It is clear that it must have total commitment from everyone on stage, throughout. This is crucial, anything less and the nature of this ballet is instantly weakened. The story told is a life-or-death power-struggle, and it must constantly keep the audience on edge -otherwise it isn't working.

It is regrettable that on this dvd, the spirit of the Corps de Ballet isn't sufficiently tense, and sometimes there is even a feeling that they are marking time. The Roman Army, and the Army of Rebel Slaves, must give us ruthless attack ! But this is frequently not the effect here, the Corps are too restrained, too well-mannered, and this undermines the entire performance. From the Bolshoi Company under Grigoriev (he takes a bow) this is surprising.

The Principals all give creditable performances, but in every case one feels some level of disappointment. For example Crassus is brilliantly danced by Volchkov and he looks marvellous, but almost completely missing is a sense of menace, the frightening cruelty and arrogance which is necessary for this character.

Spartacus the rebel slave must appear 'possessed', and Carlos Acosta is well-cast. He gives himself completely, and this is a convincing interpretation.
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