The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The intersection of sports and performance art continues unabated--and internationally, too! On the heels of the awe-inspiring "NASCAR Ballet" comes "Nagano", an opera based on the Czech Republic's 1998 gold-medal winning Olympic hockey team.
"Nagano," billed as "an opera in three periods and one overtime," is the first Czech opera about a sports event.

Characters include [Dominik] Hasek, [Jaromir] Jagr, Robert Reichel and Martin Rucinsky as well as Vaclav Havel, the former anti-communist dissident turned Czech president.

The opera, based on a script written by Jaroslav Dusek, follows the final stages of the Czech team's Olympic run and the celebrations afterward, during which a chorus of fans yell Hasek is God and Hasek for president.

The Czechs defeated the United States and Canada before beating archrival Russia to win their first Olympic title.
Seriously, is there a batch of wacky Kool-Aid making the rounds in the arts community? What's next, an orchestral symphony in praise of Tiger Woods?

I can't help but think that, if the 1998 Olympic hockey champs have merited an opera, then the miraculous 1980 winners are way overdue. Then again, the American boys did get a nice movie treatment.

UPDATE: I found a first-hand review of "Nagano", and I can't not reproduce some of the highlights here:
"Nagano" names names and takes no prisoners. Jaromír Jagr has a nice duet with the ice he skates on, Dominik Hasek sings in a godly tenor, in godly Latin, with his padding looking for all the world like a cross between a samurai's armor and an angel's wings. Milan Hnilicka's parents are caricatured as the embodiment of the Typical Czechs, staring po-faced into their televisions, his beer-bellied father knocks back one after the other while his mother, in curlers and a muu-muu, knits away.

But for all the satire, "Nagano" has some lovely moments as well. Jagr sings a duet with the ice he skates upon. And we learn in a lullaby that Hasek, wrapped in swaddling clothes and cradled by a geisha, was really born on the Japanese island of Hockey-do.
Could sprout a cross-entertainment trend: Some basketball players dabble as rap singers; hockey players can fiddle at being concert tenors.