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Biel show fails to enthral

Sina, the singer from Valais, provided some of the music for the Biel extravaganza Keystone

The opening show at Biel failed to win over the 5,000 spectators gathered around the Expo site's three grey towers on a chilly spring evening.

The show opened with the tale of the rise and fall of the tower of Babel, which was used to symbolise Switzerland’s multi-cultural and multi-lingual diversity. But the laborious, repetitive staging of the building of the tower, which was a set at the very back of the stage, soon left the audience bored and fidgety.

The act was salvaged by the appearance of the giant winged horse, Pegasus, along the shores of the lake, which won a chorus of applause. However, many of the following acts, such as the sight of numerous mermaids diving into the lake, failed to make a similar impact.

Prometheus in chains

The centrepiece of the show was the chaining-up of the god of fire, Prometheus, by Zeus, as punishment for giving fire to mankind and disobeying the will of the gods, a topic chosen to illustrate the theme of the Biel site, “Power and Freedom”.

The act was technically impressive, with Prometheus flown in by an army helicopter before being chained to floating cliffs by angry gods. Meanwhile, goddesses floating in the lake lamented his plight and Hermes cut a dash in a powerboat.

But too much of the action was centred on the static figure of Prometheus, and the show was only lifted by the arrival of the Swiss singer Sina, whose rock songs – sung in dialect – injected some much-needed energy into the proceedings.

Incoherent last act

The third and final act of the show consisted of numerous bands, poetry readings, more appearances by Pegasus and powerboats circling the three towers.

The piece de résistance, a spectacular light show, transformed the lakeside towers during the final minutes, but came too late for the audience; by then too weary to enjoy the finale.

By Hansjörg Bolliger translated by Vanessa Mock

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR