CULTURE

THE ARTS GAME

Calgary will present the largest Winter Olympic festival ever staged

PAMELA YOUNG February 2 1988
CULTURE

THE ARTS GAME

Calgary will present the largest Winter Olympic festival ever staged

PAMELA YOUNG February 2 1988

THE ARTS GAME

CULTURE

Calgary will present the largest Winter Olympic festival ever staged

Arts festivals have been part of the modern Olympics since 1952, but because most Winter Games have been held in small, remote communities, the cultural offerings have been modest. However, from Jan. 23 to Feb. 28, Calgary will make full use of its lavish arts facilities to present the largest Winter Olympic festival ever staged. Featured performers range from Anne Murray and Oscar Peterson to New York’s Juilliard String Quartet, and the highlights include the first Canadian production of George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess, a world film festival and an international authors’ festival. Said Frank King, chairman of the Games organizing committee: “We’re putting on a show this country won’t see again in many a year.”

The $ 10-million arts celebration provides an alternative to the foot-numbing world of winter spectator sports. Its Feb. 12 Olympic Eve Gala will showcase Canadian country and western musicians, including Nova Scotia’s Rita MacNeil and the evening’s host, Alberta singer/songwriter Ian Tyson. Later in the festival the Edmonton-based Alberta Ballet Company will stage the North American première of The Snow Maiden, an adaptation of a Russian folktale choreographed by Edmonton’s Brydon Paige. And the visual arts exhibition Mask will feature photographs of the colorful-and often fiercely expressive-masks worn by hockey goalies. The Olympic Film Festival, which runs from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11, will open with Cowboys Don’t Cry, a movie by Edmonton director Anne Wheeler (Loyalties).

Many international participants will perform works by Canadians or will share the stage with them. In one such event, the Soviet Capella Banduristiv folklore ensemble from Kiev will join with an Edmontonbased Ukrainian heritage group, the Shumka Dancers. Among the most progressive offerings is La Tragédie de Carmen by Paris-based British director Peter Brook. Olympic Arts Festival manager Michael Tabbitt says that the gritty update of Georges Bizet’s opera will challenge theatregoers. Said Tabbitt: “It is a focus and a duty of an Olympic arts festival to take risks.”

The festival has also sparked political controversy. The main visual arts exhibition, a display of native Canadian artifacts from collections around the world, became the

target of a boycott by Alberta’s Lubicon Lake Indian band. With some success, the group urged the world’s museums to demonstrate their support for the Lubicons’ unresolved land claim by not participating in The Spirit Sings. Last November federal as well as provincial government representatives began negotiating the claim, but the issue remained unresolved. And

even if a settlement is reached, the animosity generated by the boycott was unlikely to dissolve before the Games. Clearly, not all of the drama of the 1988 Winter Olympics will belong to the ski slopes and the skating rinks.

PAMELA YOUNG

JOHN HOWSE