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The design criteria was to design and execute the opening ceremonies of the 20th European Athletics Championships in Barcelona on July 26. The selected space is the main avenue that leads up to the mountain where the Olympic installations are situated.

Challenges And Solutions
First was the length of the avenue that is well over 1,000’ long, with a capacity of over 35,000 people, then to find a focal point of the event (stage), and finally linking the theme with a spectacular ending.

The solution was as follows:

  • The focal point would be the giant 220’-wide fountain at the end of the avenue, named the “Magic Fountain.” It was built for the 1929 International Exposition and still rivals anything in Las Vegas.
  • The high point of the evening would be the athletes marching out of the center of the working fountain.
  • Since Barcelona sometimes is called the “door to the Mediterranean,” the creative team worked up a floor and also an aerial choreography to be executed directly over the fountain on a circular truss that would then be inclined so as to be viewed as a portal, hence the athletes marching out.
  • To get the furthermost public immersed in the action, the creative team came up with a prelude which would begin prior to the live broadcast (20 minutes prior to scheduled on-air time):

On one side of the avenue:

  • 30 percussionists atop the buildings with scaffold platforms atop the roof of the buildings.
  • 20 aerial dance acrobats on three parts along the avenue—this required a construction of a 2,200-sq ft. vertical dance floor on the building fascia.

On the opposite side of the avenue:

  • Actors on six “disguised” genie platforms
  • One central kabuki reveal, 2.800-sq ft. in size.

This interaction between both sides of the avenue slowly crept up in the direction of the Magic Fountain. At this point in time, the show went live for broadcast to all of Europe and sports channels all over the world. Since the action started 20 minutes before, when we went live, the public response was totally enthusiastic.

To get the athletes to “come out” of the fountain, a 365’-long scaffolding walkway ring was constructed along the upper (115’-diameter) level of the fountain; this was linked to two 90’ ramps behind which would be hidden from public view. Using the lower water jets in front of the scaffolding at just the right height, and constructed right against the water cascading down from the upper fountain, the structure became “invisible.”

For the 40 aerial artists directly above the fountain:

  • Two 160-ton cranes
  • 54 units of 3m-long Prolyte B100RV and nine Sleveblocs to make up the 9,700sq-ft. mother-truss
  • 100’-diameter Prolyte SQ
  • 12 CM Varistar 500kg Chain hoists, run off the Kinesys Vector 2D.
  • A trolley truss with an independent turntable that could pick two acrobats off the walkway and move them above center of the fountain.

Set designer Adrian Smith came up with a front stage area that not only blended in with the fountain, but also linked to the lower level cascade. It was an excellent design of interconnecting platforms, leaving untouched the stone planter sculptures of the lower level cascade, and he added in his own front fascia cascades to hide the scaffolding legs; it all seemed to float.

Creative Team
Dante Arrigo & Asociados, Production Manager/Technical Design
Hansel Cereza, Artistic Concept
Claudi Feliu/IMAGINA, Executive Producer 

Adrian Smith/Designstage, Set Design

Jordi Llorenc/Ondino Rigging, Rigging 

Lluis Marti, Lighting Design/Programming
Arnau Qeija/Alfasom, Audio Design

Equipment
85 Philips Vari-Lite VL3000 Spot
20 Philips Vari-Lite VL3000 Wash
18 Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash
90 PAR64
30 Studio Due CityColor
12 Robert Juliat Aramis Followspots
2 LUNA PA 50’ Towers
36 Meyer Milo, Main PA
32 Meyer M’Elodie/M2D Delays
2 DiGiCo D1 Console
1 Midas H-3000 Console
Pro Tools MAC
8 d&b audiotechnik C6 Monitors
4 LED Screens: 166 Lighthouse R-16 Modules