“We tread the icy path slowly and cautiously, / for fear of tripping and falling. / Then turn abruptly, slip, crash on the ground, and, / rising, hasten on across the ice lest it cracks up.”
That’s from the sonnet that accompanied the “Winter” movement of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, the 1725 baroque composition reinterpreted in the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics. For American viewers in particular, the wintry treacherousness of Vivaldi’s poem may ring familiar. Pyeongchang, South Korea, has seen plenty of slips and falls, near misses and disappointed expectations, political tensions and apocalypse fears—plus spectacular Olympic triumphs, of course.
But the sonnet ends like this: “This is winter, which nonetheless / brings its own delights.” True, too. One delight: a 13-year-old South Korean boy in a chunky turtleneck and leather jacket and with a curly mane, making Vivaldi sound like Van Halen.
Sunday’s closing ceremony offered a wilder, more straightforwardly entertaining time than the understatedly lovely opening ceremony, which fit with it being a blowout farewell rather than a courtly introduction. It featured adorable kids in tiger ears and two attitude-drenched K-pop acts, CL and EXO. It had a ravishingly austere modern-dance routine synchronized with a light-up floor. It called on the director of China’s iconic 2008 opening ceremony, previewing Beijing 2022, to busy things up with Tron-like roller skaters and panda people.