Saturday, February 8, 2014

Dreams of Russia -- Opening Ceremony

Did you love the Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony as I did? Spectacular!

Inside the venue Friday night, a duo of Russian celebrities took turns warming up the crowd, showing everyone how to don our "Olympic medal lights" (providing a Roy Lichtenstein-like dots of light across all in attendance). We also learned how to count down in a whisper the final seconds before the magic moment the action would begin: 7 Feb at 20:14 (8:14 p.m. Sochi time).

Impressive were the performances of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" by a group of police, and a gorgeous traditional Russian folk song "Oy Da Nye Vecher" performed by Pelageya, perhaps Russia's answer to Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" performed in Vancouver. Not a dry eye in my section.

Seated on row five in a corner used for staging performers, most of my neighbors were Russian. It was fun to meet the nearby mother of a Team USA athlete who scored a last-minute ticket to view her daughter's march into the venue.

In the 24 hours since the Olympic Stadium main event, I remain impressed with all the history learned or reinforced by the presentation titled "Dreams of Russia." The music -- classical and techno -- sent me searching for many tunes online.

There was a friendly, "Sesame Street" quality to the "Russian Alphabet/Azbuka" segment, the glow-in-the-dark fur vests to create the Russian flag stood out, and the massive projection effects to turn the floor into maps, oceans and constellations -- brilliant!

The white horses running across the sky, and the construction of Soviet-era Moscow also impressed me.

It pleases me that New York Times reporter David Herszenhorn provided a very balanced to positive review of the experience (he nailed it!), praising the event's most remarkable and memorable details while noting, but not drawing undue attention to, a couple of glitches that other U.S. media continue to report.

Given the surprise "selfie" photo with her on Thursday, it also pleased me Maria Sharapova carried the Olympic torch into the stadium. She was beaming!

Standing beneath the ignited Sochi Olympic Cauldron at Olympic Park after the show, the warmth from the flame was appreciated (inside the venue it was in the 40s Fahrenheit).

I will now have many new Dreams of Russia.

Photos by Nicholas Wolaver

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