In March 1982 the Italian ballet ensemble Aterballetto, founded by Amedeo Amodio, was one year old. It opened its second season with an adventurous programme which included MacMillan’s Verdi Variations. This was an extended duet, a showpiece for two of the company’s frequent guest dancers Elisabetta Terabust and Peter Schaufuss, and would be incorporated into Quartet, which MacMillan was then creating for Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet.
For John Percival of The Times, who was at the first performance, this was MacMillan’s “most successful creation for some time... an extended duet of pure virtuosity”. He continued: “Terabust never looked better than she does in her solos, full of pretty little steps, and in the many off-balance poses of the adagio sections. Schaufuss, besides partnering her with unfailing strength and friendly attentiveness, tackles such wildly whirling leaps in his solos that there is no defining or even describing them; yet the most prodigiously abandoned moments are all carried off with astonishing accuracy.”