🎻♫♪ – Spartacus by Aram Khachaturian

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
Progress:
 50/501Title: Spartacus
Composer: Aram Khachaturian
Nationality: Russian
Year:
1954

I would be lying if I said that his is where I thought following the classical music list would lead me when I started on it two and a half years ago. I’ve gone from being inspired by a manga depicting talented musicians to sitting in a 18-1900 year old Greek theatre watching Khachaturian’s ballet adaptation of Spartacus. Kinda crazy where life can lead us sometimes – and what a way to finish off our third wedding anniversary.

The seating in the theatre is divided into two sections – we went for the cheaper upper section where it’s basically sit where you can. Even though we got there half an hour early already a large part of the upper section of the theatre was heaving. We managed to get some really good seats and waited for the ballet to start – half an hour late because it would appear that a lot of the attendees took 20:30 to be a suggested arrival time rather than a start time. Needless to say, it ran over quite a bit to the point that people started leaving during the third act.

Even though I have only seen three full length ballets (including this one) I have no qualms in saying that this production is the best I’ve seen. Hell, it might be one of the best things that I have seen on stage. We are so incredibly lucky that a production like this (where the principal dancers were from the Bolshoi ballet company) was in town and performing on our anniversary.

What helped to make this different from the other ballets that I’ve seen would appear to be age. Spartacus, being written in the fifties, has more of a modern flair to the competition whilst remaining classical. Also, the story is incredibly well edited so that it just keeps flowing along whilst giving the dancers plenty of time to show off the choreography and their skill.

It would appear, at least to me, that you can really tell how the style has moved on by the musical choices of the female characters. You have Spartacus’ wife Phrygia whose dances and music are far more in line with what you would expect from a classical ballet style, but with a few tumbles added in for good measure. The contrast is Aegina (who I kept calling Druscilla in my head as I watched) whose music and choreography was far more sensual and, at times, was taking on elements of jazz.

Whilst all the principals truly shone the ones who always took my attention and could leave me breathless were those playing Spartacus and Aegina. Nothing against the other two, especially not the man playing Crassus whose characterisation was on point at all times, but Spartacus and Aegina were just outstanding.

It was a truly fantastic evening in what feels like a once in a lifetime setting.

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