Ballet "Spartak": content, video, interesting facts

A. Khachaturian ballet "Spartak"

The idea to create the ballet "Spartacus" came to A. Khachaturian at a difficult time for our country - in December 1941. With this work, the composer wanted to show the heroic image of a man of ancient history, which was especially important in the conditions of military events, to maintain the strong-willed spirit of the people in the struggle for their freedom and independence.

Summaries of Khachaturian's ballet "Spartak" and many interesting facts about this piece read on our page.



Spartacusthe leader of the rebel gladiators, the Thracian
PhrygiaSpartacus's wife
Crassuscommander in command of the roman legions
Aeginaslave crass, courtesan
GarmodiusThracian, traitor


The events of the play develop in 73-71 BC. in the Roman Empire. Spartacus is a Thracian who was captured with his wife and now forced to be a servant, he participates in gladiator fights. He raises rebellion among the fighters, motivating them to end such a life and fight for their freedom. The rest of the gladiators support him and a popular uprising rises. By their orders, the Crassian Harmony, the Thracian, adjoins their camp. He learns all the plans of Spartacus and at the right time tells about them to his master. Thanks to this, the Romans set up a rebel ambush and attack them. As a result of the most severe bout, Spartak dies, and the traitor Harmony Crassus is ordered to be killed. The surviving Thracian warriors find the body of the defeated Spartacus and raise it on a shield. At this moment the horizon illuminates the golden glow - the sun rises.

The author of the libretto, N. Volkov, used authentic historical sources for his work: Plutarch's “Biographies”, Juvenal's satires and some works of art. In the plot of the ballet dough intertwined theme of heroism, struggle and devotional love.

Duration of performance
I ActAct IIAct III
40 min40 min50 min

A photo:

Interesting Facts

  • There is a coin in denominations of 100 rubles, where you can see scenes from "Spartacus." Its release was timed to the 225th anniversary of the Bolshoi Theater.
  • Despite the fact that the plot of the ballet was approved by the authorities, Khachaturian was forced to postpone work on his most famous work for some time. So, he started it again only in 1950 after a trip to Italy. Perhaps, having visited the Colosseum and the Appian Way, where the fateful battle of the insurgent people had once occurred, he decided to write a long-conceived work.
  • The premiere of the ballet took place in February 1954 and was appreciated by the public and criticism, moreover, it became a real sensation and caused a storm of emotions. Everyone was amazed by the extraordinary staging, it seemed that the heroes were animated sculptures that had descended from historical pages, ancient mosaics, and above them all stood the image of a hero - Spartacus. Even the performers danced not on pointe, but in sandals, dressed in tunics, so as not to depart from the historical plot.
  • Choreographer Leonid Jacobson first criticized the ballet! He did not like almost everything in it: the libretto of a sketchy and too long musical part. Naturally, Aram Ilyich didn’t like it, especially since he categorically opposed reducing the score. As a result, a real scandal broke out between them right on Nevsky Prospect in the middle of the street! Even fists went to the course, everyone so strongly defended his case that he had to call the police. However, the laws of the theater are such that the last word always remains for the choreographer. Therefore, Leonid Yakobson did make some adjustments for his innovative production.
  • "Spartacus" - remains the greatest and most famous production of Khachaturian, for which the author was awarded the Order of Lenin.
  • Fragments of this work can be found in two series of the popular Ice Age cartoon animated franchise, namely, Global Warming and The Age of Dinosaurs.
  • It is curious that very little information has come down to such a famous hero as Spartacus, so the librettists had to compile his biography somewhere.
  • Khachaturian composed the ballet for 3.5 years.
  • Even before the premiere in the theater, students were able to get acquainted with some of the numbers from the ballet thanks to the suite, which was often performed at symphony concerts, enjoying great popularity.
  • Setting Jacobson destroyed all existing traditions. His performers were dressed in loose robes and sandals, which initially caused shock to all.
  • Khachaturian was displeased with the premiere of the play "Spartak", because he thought all the same in a classic performance. This was largely due to the fact that Jacobson had violated the symphonic laws in the score, allowing himself some notes and rearrangement of numbers.
  • One of the main differences of this performance is that it is male, because the main parts belong here to Spartacus and Crassus, which was a rarity for ballet.
  • Today in the world there are about 20 versions of the productions of this work, but only two are considered the most popular: Grigorovich and Jacobson.

Popular numbers

Adagio Spartacus and Phrygia - listen

Variations of Aegina - listen

Dance of the Pirates - listen

Triumphal march - listen

History of creation

At first glance, it is difficult to imagine, but "Spartak" is a completely Soviet ballet in its ideology, although it narrates about difficult events in the history of the Roman Republic, dating back to 73-71 BC. er This is not surprising, since it was during the Soviet period that heroic works came to the fore, replacing fabulous and light performances gradually. The main idea - the struggle, is the main for all the art of that time.

In 1941, Aram Khachaturian first announced his intentions to compose the ballet "Spartacus" in a small newspaper article. He wrote that he began work on the work and thought it was a monumental heroic performance. According to the composer, ballet should show the public the best person in all ancient history. It is known that this image attracted the composer's attention for a very long time, especially in such a difficult time it seemed to him particularly appropriate. The administration of the Bolshoi Theater invited the maestro to work on the play. However, due to major changes in the theater, as well as military operations in the country, for some time the work was stopped.

He was able to resume it only a few years after the war, visiting sunny Italy during his trip in 1950. Returning to the country, he immediately began to compose music for the ballet and in February 1954 the work was written in full.

It is curious that the initial work on the libretto began in 1933. The choreographer of the Bolshoi Theater I. Moiseev and the librettist N. Volkov conceived this ballet, but the grandiose idea had to be postponed for several years. This was due to the fact that the choreographer was to leave the Bolshoi Theater. When the libretto was completed, Volkov was officially designated by its author, although it is not known for certain exactly what was written in collaboration with Moses.


As soon as the work on the score was completed, the composer began to discuss all the details of the production with choreographer Leonid Yakobson. This is where the main problems arose. This choreographer managed to become famous thanks to his reformist ideas. It is curious that by the time Jacobson began to work on Khachaturian’s ballet, he was twice expelled from the Mariinsky Theater, but each time he was again taken back. This is not surprising, because he was an incredibly talented choreographer and in 1950 he even received the highest Stalin Prize at that time for his work on the ballet "Shurale". When the choreographer was offered to put "Spartacus", they immediately set an indispensable condition - to do everything in the shortest possible time. For acquaintance with the score and the actual beginning of the rehearsals he was given ten days. Critics called his ballet "free plastic", because everything in it was innovative. The choreographer himself wanted to emphasize precisely the spirit of antiquity and therefore resolutely rejected all classical dances and costumes of performers.

The premiere of the performance was successfully held in late December 1956. The conductor was Pavel Feldt, the main parts were perfectly performed by Askold Makarov, Robert Gerbek. The public and critics were delighted with what they saw and the ballet was immediately called a true sensation in the art world. It is curious that until that time, not a single ballet had evoked so much interest and such a violent reaction from the public. However, despite the success, he did not stay long in the repertoire, he was restored again in 1962, and then removed again for several reasons.

In the capital, the long-awaited premiere took place in March 1958, thanks to the efforts of I. Moiseev. But you can’t call her successful, and she lasted very little on stage. In 1962, Leonid Yakobson decided to repeat his version already on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, but he also did not expect a huge success and the production did not stay long.

In April 1968, Yuri Grigorovich presented his version at the Bolshoi Theater. He remained faithful to the traditions of academic ballet, with his classical dance, but he strengthened the psychological side of the performance. The success of his version is evidenced by the fact that in 1975 the Mosfilm studio took up the adaptation of the ballet. After the successful premiere, Grigorovich's ballet was presented in many cities of the country and abroad, where the public appreciated the work of Khachaturian.

An interesting version was presented in 2009 at the Ballet Theater. Jacobson. Leader Yuri Petukhov decided to recreate the original version of the performance, with all the inherent nuances.

As for music, it is beautiful, in it Khachaturian skillfully wove European and oriental intonations. Ballet themes are very vivid and memorable. Literally, each of them is fascinating with its sonority and beauty, be it the "Dance of the Pirates" or the famous "Triumphal March". We suggest you to make an excursion into the history of ancient Rome right now, and to see the ballet “Spartacus” by A. Khachaturian.

We are pleased to offer ballet dancers and a symphony orchestra to perform numbers and excerpts from the ballet "Spartacus" at your event.

Watch the video: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker The Royal Ballet (October 2019).

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