Chinese time machine #3

After a really productive blog-month last October (10 posts!), I’ve been kind of a slacker. But with a week off for Spring Festival, I’ve been making up for lost time. Moving on from the current festivities, I now jump back to 2008, December 12.

Since the famous Water Cube (水立方) is not being used for Olympic events anymore, it is hosting a nightly concert featuring a live orchestra and programmed fountains and lights. At ¥200 a seat, it’s probably a bit overpriced to draw much of a crowd. Certainly the night I went it was poorly attended.
The name of the show is Water Cube Fantasy (梦幻水立方 Menghuan Shui Lifang).
They have a small orchestra on the deck between the diving pool and the swimming pool, and the swimming pool is rigged with a network of pipes and nozzles and lights.
While the orchestra played a selection of famous European classical pieces by Strauss, Beethoven, Rossini, and so on, the water was made to dance in time.
The “wall of water” effect turned out to be a prominent feature of the show…
…as they killed the lights and projected moving pictures onto the liquid screen.
The orchestra took a break while a video collage of local scenes and Olympic highlights played.

There were also some taped musical numbers of Chinese “traditional” music. It often seems that the Chinese have an aversion to actual traditional music, so what we heard was modern interpretations of traditional tunes done with synthesizers and drum machines accompanying Chinese instruments.

Here’s a video I took of the ending part of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” to give you a feeling for what it was like.

For a second movie segment, they used the desert horse race from Hidalgo with “Ride of the Valkyries” as a soundtrack. In a particularly interesting artistic choice, to make it fit the length of the music, we got to see the most exciting parts of the race twice.
The show lasted only 45 minutes or so.

The last time I visited the Water Cube was before the Olympics, you can compare the pictures from before with this one of the concourse.
They’re selling all sorts of Water Cube memorabilia, from T-shirts and hats to expensive jewelry and commemorative coins.

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