Cultural Mongrelization Tip of the Day


Fans of weird global blending may want to head out to Prague's Theatre of the Estates to check out a new performance called Nagano, "an avant-garde opera set against the Czech hockey team's surprise victory in the 1998 Winter Olympics," according to my friend Doug Arellanes, who just saw it. Some highlights:

Jarom?r Jagr has a nice duet with the ice he skates on, Dominik Ha?ek 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 Hnili?ka'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 Ha?ek, wrapped in swaddling clothes and cradled by a geisha, was really born on the Japanese island of Hockey-do.

The opera, needless to say, is being performed in the very same theater where Mozart's Don Giovanni made its debut.