Following sensational performances in Moscow and London in 2007, the Bolshoi's production was re-staged and filmed in January 2008 in the Paris Opera's Palais Garnier, especially for Carlos Acosta. Carlos Acosta is one of ... more »the greatest male dancers of our time and has danced with all the major ballet companies of the world including American Ballet Theatre, Royal Ballet, Houston Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet With an image up to six times sharper than conventional DVD and superior high-definition sound, Blu-Ray lets you watch opera and ballet performances from the front row of the theater. Experience every detail, no matter how small, in the highest quality possible. With five times the memory of standard DVDs, Blu-Ray is a completely new way to experience the theater at home.« less
"When this disc arrived I saw Ross MacGibbon credited as the video producer, and cringed: Oh, no, not the man who demolished Swan Lake at the Mariinsky! My expectations rose a bit when I thought that Khachaturian's musical language and Grigorovich's dance language might lend itself to quick cutting better. 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."
A wish comes true
A. Lupu | Rochester, MN USA | 12/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In April 2007 I wrote a very short comment on the ArtHouse DVD recorded at the Bolshoi Theater on 1990. I was then hoping for a new version with surround sound and High Definition. This time I got my wish and much more. This BluRay Disc was recorded with the Bolshoi dancers and the Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta in Paris in 2008. The choreography and scenography are the same as the 1990 production but, new technology and the passionate dancing makes it this Disc a real work of art to be enjoyed by all. If you have seen any old and new versions of Spartacus films you will appreciate and enjoy this ballet even if you have never seen a ballet before. 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. "
Marc Haegeman | Gent, Belgium | 01/03/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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. The petite Nina Kaptsova is an excellent Phrygia, fragile and expressive, while Maria Allash is in her element as Aegina. The Bolshoi company performs for the rest with plenty of energy and conviction.
Filmed live in Paris at the Palais Garnier in January 2008, it's a shame that the Bolshoi's own orchestra wasn't used for this release. Pavel Klinichev conducts the Orchestra Colonne, which lacks conviction and energy and cannot hide its unfamiliarity with Khatchaturian's score.
Directed by Ross MacGibbon and shot by the French Bel Air Media team, close-ups are sparingly used and aren't too distracting. Bonus features include clips of studio rehearsals and interviews with Acosta, his co-stars Kaptsova, Allash and Volchkov, choreographer Yuri Grigorovich, Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Alexei Ratmansky, and the Paris Opera Ballet's Brigitte Lefèvre. Acosta talks about his beginnings in Havana and his personal affinity with the role of the Thracian rebel.
All in all a fine new release. Collectors owning previous versions of the ballet with Vladimir Vasiliev and Irek Mukhamedov, can safely invest in it, as Acosta is a completely different Spartacus and on his own well worth the admission price."
Jose Brito | Estoril,Portugal | 02/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When Grigorovich took the challenge of choreographing Khachaturian's Spartacus - who had searched the story of this rebelled slave in Appian and Plutarch,more than in Giovaniolli's novel as basis for his ballet score -he would be the third choreographer to do so,after Yakobson in 1956 and Moiseev,in 58. In 1963 he finally staged this 3rd productin of Spartacus,for Bolshoi.The leading role does demand an exceptional physically gifted dancer in order to give life to the extremely violent choreography with its "jetés" and leap sequences,not to mention strength.Mikhail Lavrovsky,Vladimir Vasiliev and Irek Mukhamedov became legendary interpreters of Grigorovich's Spartacus.Two dancers,young Ivan Vasiliev - possibly one exceptional Spartacus to be - and cuban Carlos Acosta have the courage to dance the part,nowadays. Carlos Acosta,internationally recognised ballet dancer,even foot injured,gives,live from Palais Garnier,an unforgettable interpretation of this demanding role,after Moscow and London.His generosity,his inner capability of giving the rebelious slave a soul trough dancing,is absolutely transcendent,and technically too,though injured. His partenaire Kaptsova is neither Semenyaka nor Bessmertnova but portrays a fragile,tender Phrygia. Allash's Aegina,quite convincing,follows Bilova's steps(she danced the two Mukhamedov versions).The weakest part is Volshkov's Crassus,far from being a cruel despot the role requires.Too young and light,is far away from Vetrov's energic,violent dancing.The orchestra...weak. The Bolshoi corps,alas, does not bear the masculine quality male Bolshoi dancers used to have...I did think of majorettes,once or twice. The filming is excellent,the blu-ray DVD image exceptional.This said,Vasiliev and Mukhamedov remain unsurpassed."
My first ballet experience was a good one
johnny | 12/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The is the first ballet I have even seen and it was a pleasure. What I like most was the music. It is very powerful and the sound quality is also very good. The camera work is very clear although I thought the cameras were too far away on some of the scenes. This DVD is a keeper and I highly recommend it."