Sochi Opening Ceremony: Art trumps politics

Fireworks go off over the Olympic Park at the end of the opening ceremony.

Lenin and Stalin didn’t make the cut. But Nabokov, Chekhov and Tchaikovsky did. Their names were spoken.

The spectacular Opening Ceremony Friday night at the Sochi Olympics presented a Russian history that accentuated the arts and recalled the country’s past in broad, vivid strokes. You’re not looking for documentary realism in an Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Imperial Russia was represented by a huge corps of dancing men who performed with militaristic fervor. Their precise maneuvers segued to a mammoth and beautiful ball sequence modeled on Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.”

As the extravaganza unfolded on NBC, Matt Lauer noted that the imperial era was giving way to the Russian Revolution¬† — and a commercial break (a reminder

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