Opening Ceremony to be a blend of sound and emotions

From the heights of Beijing, for its technological marvel and money, Brazil is all set to take the Opening Ceremony to a different level of sound and emotions, with colourful dance and music.

Fireworks explode above the Maracanã Stadium during the rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.   -  Getty Images

From the heights of Beijing, for its technological marvel and money, from London, for its superlative presentation on television, Brazil is all set to take the Opening Ceremony to a different level of sound and emotions, with colourful dance and music. The cost cutting from an original budget of 113.9 million US Dollars to 55.9 million for the four ceremonies — the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of both the Olympics and the Paralympics — had forced the Creative Director for the Rio Games, Fernando Meirelles, and the CEO, Andrea Varnier of Italy, to go back to the drawing board and touch human hearts.

"I hope the opening ceremony will be a drug for depression in Brazil. Brazilians can look at it and say we are a cool people, we are different ethnic groups, we live together, we never went to war, we are peaceful, we know how to enjoy life and we tend to be happy," said Meirelles, a film director like Danny Boyle, who directed the ceremonies at the 2012 London Olympics.

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In a nutshell, the ceremony promises to take people to their future, rather than relive the past.

"Countries are always talking about themselves, their contribution to the world and how they are the centre of the universe. Like Athens — western culture came from there. Beijing — we invented paper and the compass, and London, the industrial revolution and the internet revolution," Meirelles said.

"We decided to do it the other way round. How we should behave from now on, not just Brazil, but mankind," he said, stressing that the money spent would be 12 times less than London and 20 times less than Beijing.

In the end, it dawned on everyone that it was a blessing in disguise.

"We are in a moment in the world where we need to be reasonable with the way we spend money. The environment can’t handle it anymore. When 40 per cent of homes in Brazil have no sanitation, you can’t really be spending a billion reals for a show," he said, assuring that the show would be "very pop," contemporary with good music.

Managing Maracanã

The challenge was dealing with the historic Maracanã Stadium, which has "no entrance. There is one door which is not big and four normal doors". The real task was to provide an exit for 3,000 dancers and bring 12,000 athletes through the same door.

"The whole creative process has been dealing with how we go about taking people in and out and occupying space," he said.

"Bad broadcasting would destroy a good show. We have worked on the broadcasting to know second by second where the camera will be. If we have 3,000 extras... We will put the two best faces or the two best dancers here, for the camera. In London, the broadcasting was phenomenal, frame by frame you would catch a famous actor or something. It was perfect. We are really focused on TV," said the director of the film, City of God, that had four Oscar nominations.

The CEO Andrea Varnier was impressed with the way the team worked together despite the limited budget.

"Our final budget was confirmed very late. Had the same amount been confirmed a year earlier, it would have helped a lot," Varnier said.

He reflected: "We will be able to supplement less technology than previous Games with more human emotions. The ceremonies had become gigantic monsters of technology."

As the curtains go up, it should be a celebration of dance and music, a fabulous blend of sound and emotions.

Rio, here we go!