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Hockey opera

The week's news at a glance.

Prague

An opera about the Czech Republic’s hockey championship in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, opened in Prague last week to rave reviews. Nagano, composed by Martin Smolka with a libretto by Jaroslav Dusek, features singers playing the roles of such star athletes as Jaromir Jagr. The role of goaltender Dominik Hasek, who is routinely greeted by Czech fans with chants of “Hasek is God,” is sung by a countertenor, the highest of all male voices. “And we decided to have the countertenor sing in Latin,” said Smolka, “to evoke this situation of God.” One of the opera’s most dramatic moments comes at the end, when the Olympics president fails to give third goalkeeper Milan Hnilicka his gold medal because he wasn’t suited up for the final game. Nagano opened in the same theater where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni.

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