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Open Mind for the Opening Ceremonies

Monday, August 11, 2008 - 01:37 PM

Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremonies at Bird’s Nest

I am, and have always been, a big sports fan. And therefore, I have always hated the Olympics opening ceremonies. Huge spectacles, garish costumes and even more garish music, and not a single ball struck or gruesome injury or anything fun like that. Early (leaked and unofficial) word from Beijing suggested that last Friday’s opener would be more of the same, but I tuned in anyway because, well, there was always a chance of a dignitary falling down and suffering a gruesome injury I guess. And you know what? There was actually quite a lot to like. The 2008 drummers, the gu-zheng music (the traditional board zither of Chinese courts), the almost scary precision of the people recreating the effects of raindrops on a pond with their box-costumes – there were whole stretches which made very little attempt to accommodate Western musical or aesthetic tastes, which were clearly rooted in Chinese tradition, but which had been blown up to enormous proportion not just because they could, but because it fit the enormity of the occasion. Of course, there were moments of extreme lameness as well, most notably the closing duet (was Sarah Brightman actually singing in Mandarin?). But on the whole, I thought this might have been the best opening ceremony I’ve seen, and the music – especially the distinctly Chinese parts – were a huge part of it.

Tell us: What did you think of the opening ceremonies? Did the music seem too alien, or did it work in this context?

(Photo credit: beastandbean/Flickr)

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