Friday, February 10, 2006

Olympic fever

Didn't see the Olympic opening ceremonies, but I read about them. "Luciano Pavarotti performed "Nessun Dorma," ("Let No One Sleep"), from Puccini's "Turandot," an aria that the tenor has turned into a signature piece.
While that closing number sent spectators home happy, it was the parade of nations that really got the party going.
More than 2,500 athletes arrived to the accompaniment of chest-thumping disco ranging from "YMCA" by the Village People to "I Will Survive," by Gloria Gaynor.
Italy, as host country, entered last and brought down the house. Dressed in fur-trimmed coats, against the pulsating, popular Italian pop song "Una Donna Per Amico" ("A Woman For a Friend"), the crowd jumped to its feet, and shouted while ringing souvenir cow bells provided by show organizers.
The program opened with Yuri Chechi, one of Italy's most famous gymnasts, swinging a mighty hammer onto a giant anvil that sparked tall flames. Rollerbladers in red body suits zoomed across the stage, two-foot flames shooting out the back of their heads.
Next came a tribute to the seven countries abutting the majestic Alps -- including Austria, Germany and France. Dancers wearing green sheaths pranced near brightly painted fake cows pulled on rollers. It was a homage to mountain life and livestock, and to cheer both, the stadium audience was supplied with the cow bells.
In what executive producer Marco Balich described as an "iconic moment," silver-clad dancers appeared with big, white bubbles stuck to their heads. Balich, who has staged concert shows for U2 and the Rolling Stones, said the balls signified snow, of which there is none in Turin."

All of this was said to convey the Italian sense of "passion". What? Was there giant walking chest hairs popping out of mock silk shirts? Did the IOC president put out a hit on his main rival? Was there postmodern spaghetti stains on interpretive wifebeaters while the crowd hooted minalmist whistles at leering big haired women passerby's? Don't make me send in our secret weapon you goombahs...


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