"I'll be dying 27 times," Olympic gold medalist Katarina Witt says wryly, as she thinks about performing the role of "Carmen" on ice in a new show that's just begun a five-month tour.
"Skating II" -- which will be performed at 7:30 tonight at the Baltimore Arena -- features Ms. Witt together with fellow Olympian Brian Boitano and an international cast of 12 world-class skaters.
The East German skating star will be in the spotlight five times during the evening. As a finale, she and Mr. Boitano will perform the death scene from the HBO movie, "Carmen on Ice," which won the pairEmmy Awards.
Speaking on the phone in fluent though slightly accented English, the 24-year-old Ms. Witt describes the show, directed by Sandra Bezic, as more sophisticated than the usual ice review.
"We won't have Mickey Mouse or any stuffed animals," she says. "Skating is the main thing. The show is very athletic and contemporary, with different musical styles -- classical, jazz and pop."
Since the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Ms. Witt and Mr. Boitano have seemed inseparable on the ice. They performed together in a TV special, the HBO movie and a
successful ice show which toured North America last winter.
Asked about possible romantic involvement with Mr. Boitano, she laughs, saying, "I've been asked that hundreds of times. We're very good friends. We like working together because we're so much alike. We express our feelings and put so much heart in our skating that you can feel it when we're on the ice. There's chemistry there and a bit of magic, but that's all."
Although enamored of skating, Ms. Witt hopes to do another film on the order of "Carmen on Ice."
Now living in Berlin, Ms. Witt was once the darling of the East German government. She began skating at the age of 5 at the local sports club in her home town of Karl Marx Stadt, now Chemnitz. Her skating talent soon became apparent and she was put under the wing of one of the country's top coaches.
At the age of 15 she made her mark in international competition, starting her climb to the top. She won her first Olympic gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo and did it again four years later in Calgary.
Relieved that her career is finally freed of Cold War politics, Ms. Witt says, "It's wonderful the [Berlin] Wall came down last year. People have more freedom to do what they want. For me it's easier, too. I make my decisions now rather than the sports federation."
Tickets to "Skating II" are $35, $22.50 and $20, and are available at the box office and at all TicketCenter locations or they may be charged by phone by calling 481-6000.