Hannibal Over the Alps: Who Said History Was Boring?

Markus was catching up on my blog and commented that I hadn’t posted about the Hannibal show yet. Not sure how I let that one pass by, as it was one of the most impressive experiences of the year. Since we spent the whole day today baking ourselves in the city’s ginormous outdoor swimming complex, it seems a bit strange to be talking about partying in the snow. But I guess we Canadians are used to it, given that the hockey playoffs spill into June.

As part of my birthday present (because Paris wasn’t enough, lucky girl that I am), Markus bought tickets for the year-end show at the Sölden ski mountain. Each year a few of the main ski resort villages put on major performances to celebrate the end of the winter ski season.

For the last few years, Sölden has put on an amazing performance which focuses on the story of Hannibal, the Carthaginian military commander (about 200 BC), during the period he marched over the Alps into Italy.

There were over 5,000 people watching…and eating and drinking and buying stuff of course. (I know I’ve said it before, but except for the bank’s refusal to lend us money, I have seen very few examples of the effect of the financial crisis on this part of the world.) The event was incredibly efficiently run, starting with a couple of dozen buses providing non-stop transportation from the lower village to the mountain top. (I just closed my eyes and imagined good things as we teetered on the edge of the mountain switchbacks for the 15 minute journey.)

At the chalet we ate and drank and found our place at the base of the glacier to watch the action. Even before the main event there was a huge video screen and blaring music to accompany the dare-devil stunts of the fighter jets and B52 bombers zooming through the sky.

The event itself was a contemporary retelling of the Hannibal story, with a deep-voiced narrator and an English-speaking talk-show host moving the story along. The performance was incredible. We figure it took hundreds of thousands of Euros to put on this thing. There were dozens of performance skiers, helicopters, para-gliders, dancers and actors. 15 snowplows represented the elephants that Hannibal drove over the mountains, while a giant crane transported the overseeing goddesses and Hannibal to the scene. An ice pyramid provided a platform for the dancers as well as a real bed with some hot action.

After the stunt motorcycles and snowmobiles jumped over ice ramps, I thought we had hit the highlight of the show. That was when a real live avalanche was triggered. CA.RAY.ZY! To be followed by about a dozen parachuters carrying glowing lights jumping from planes. And of course, the whole thing ended with a spectacular fireworks display.

I decided to take my video camera, thinking that that would be a better way of capturing the performance. On review of the footage, I have discovered that, although I’m not a great photographer, my video taking skills are truly scheiße. Luckily, between the magic of YouTube and the existence of promotional videos, you get to see 3 incredible minutes of this stunning hour-and-a-half extravaganza. Enjoy.