Composer's epic obsession sees revival of rock opera
A founder member of The Independent David Lister joined the paper in 1986 as Assistant Home Editor. He became the paper's arts correspondent in 1988 and is now Arts Editor and writes a column each Saturday. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Friday 28 August 1992
Whether or not the concept attracts the record-buying public in the Nineties remains to be seen. Without doubt it has obsessed its creator and composer, Jeff Wayne. For 12 years Mr Wayne has made Spartacus his raison d'etre, becoming in that period one of the world's greatest experts on the gladiator rebel.
Next to the recording studio in his own collonaded villa in the Hertfordshire countryside are shelves of material on Spartacus, collected from museums around the world, and 8,000 photocopies of material too precious for the museums to release. For three of those years he had a Latin speaking assistant to translate.
Mr Wayne, whose last venture - another concept album, War Of The Worlds by H G Wells - sold 4 million copies, works surrounded by Spartacus paraphernalia, books, film posters, documents, and maps of ancient Rome made by himself and his assistant after extensive researches.
'We contacted museums all over the world and embassies of all the relevant countries including Bulgaria which was Thrace, where Spartacus was born,' Mr Wayne said. 'We found that much of the history was written from the Roman side and tended to expunge the story of Spartacus because his was the slave revolt which came closest to defeating the Roman army. The film was inaccurate because it showed Spartacus crucified. In fact he fell in battle and his body was never recovered. But 6,000 of his forces were crucified, all the way from the gates of Rome to Capua.
'I became fascinated, learning so much. For example, a Roman amphitheatre held a maximum of 20,000 people. It was much more like Wimbledon than Wembley Stadium. Even the Colosseum only held 50,000.'
The making of Spartacus has been a fraught journey. Two of the librettists died. One was Mr Wayne's stepmother who died of cancer; another died of a brain tumour; and a third, the screenwright and playwright Robert Bolt, parted company by mutual agreement. However, Anthony Hopkins was signed to narrate at a price that would not have been possible after he won an Oscar for Silence of the Lambs.
Changes in record company personnel also complicated proceedings; but now the record company Columbia aims to show that concept albums can still sell. The company is hedging its bets, however. Spartacus will also be available as a remix for dance clubs. These days, one cannot afford to ignore any possible audience.
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Kate Moss: Previously unpublished nude photo revealed by Mert and Marcus
- 4 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 5 Bad Jews poster 'censored' on London Tube
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
Becky Watts: Four appear in court charged with hiding body parts after teenager's death
Isis 'bulldozes' Nimrud: UNESCO condemns destruction of ancient Assyrian site as a 'war crime'
Professor Brian Cox brands astrology-believing Tory MP David Tredinnick an 'outlier on the spectrum of reason'
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...