Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony - London (entire ceremony)


The Games of the XXX Olympiad
London, England
2012

Underneath the Olympic Cauldron of the 2012 Olympics in London

Olympic Ceremony Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First to Use LED Screen Effects in Stadium Seating
  • First Emphasizing Live Film Production
  • First to Use Livestock
  • First to Cover the Stadium Floor in an Interchangeable Stage
  • First Summer Olympic Ceremony to Not Sing the Current Olympic Hymn (instrumental version performed: this version of the Olympic Hymn was performed in 1896, 1960-present)
  • First Olympic Cauldron Assembled During the Ceremony
  • First Person to Open Two Summer Olympic Games - Queen Elizabeth II (Montreal 1976)
  • Most Olympic Games Opened by One Person  - 2 (tie - Queen Elizabeth II: 2012 London, 1976 Montreal - Adolf Hitler: 1936 Berlin, 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Giovanni Gronchi:1956 Cortina d'Ampezzo, 1960 Rome - Hirohito: 1964 Tokyo, 1972 Sapporo)
  • Most Olympic Events (302) - tie Beijing 2008 (302)
Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Torch White-water Rafted
  • First Torch Carried on Zip Wire
  • Most Torchbearers to Light the Cauldron (7) - Previous Seoul 1988 (3)
Opening Ceremony
Olympic Stadium (62,000)
July 27, 2012

Official Report
No Official Report ... yet

Complete Video
Video may take some time to load depending on connection
If video doesn't load click here or here


Opening Ceremony Highlights
The Opening Ceremony in London was one of the most anticipated ceremonies in Olympic history.  Following the immense spectacle of the Beijing Olympics, the London games had a smaller budget but made great innovations.  Most notable, the ceremony was cinematically produced - the television broadcast of the event was the primary artistic goal.  Unfortunately, several broadcasts around the world did little to help the ceremony's artistic descriptions.  In the USA, NBC did not broadcast the event live, they omitted one of the most emotionally intense artistic segments (Abide with Me) commemorating those lost in London bombings in 2005 (the day after London won the right to host the Olympics), and commentary was substantially inconsiderate toward the descriptions of many nations (Australia introduced as a penal colony; Madagascar was noted for the movies named after it; and many of the nations were mispronounced); among other gaffes, NBC also made jokes about not knowing the inventor of the World Wide Web (Tim Berners-Lee) and belittled his importance.  Berners-Lee was one of Time's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.  

Notwithstanding the embarrassing commentary of the American broadcasters, the London Opening Ceremony could likely be more influential than Beijing.  Beijing, while they created a spectacular show, did little to advance artistic innovation.  London will likely set a precedent for future ceremonies in their cinematic nature and in the advancement of LED screen technology which created several spectacular effects within the stadium.  While the ceremony was a great spectacle of the British pop culture, unfortunately it did little to showcase their rich classical music history and choral music history.  The choirs selected to perform were of modest quality compared to the rich traditions of the British and to a musician (like myself) I was certainly unimpressed that the country with the richest choral tradition in the world decided to be the first Summer Games to not sing the Olympic Anthem; little ceremonial British pomp was displayed and instead many hilarious moments were infused throughout - certainly entertaining, the lightheartedness of it was highly criticized in the world press however.  London will certainly be remembered for their hilarious stunts and sometimes bizarre images, but they made several great advancements in the ceremonial art and perhaps have created a new path for future ceremonies to tread - will the Olympic ceremonies continue in this new cinematic style or will Rio return to the mass performance tradition of Beijing?

Quick review:
  • Red Arrows jets perform aerial stunts
  • "Nimrod" from Enigma Variations by Elgar performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
  • "Isle of Wonder" artistic segment
    • Video (tracing the River Thames with pastoral shots in the stadium, which is arranged in a typical English countryside)
    • Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France winner, rings the Olympic Bell (first since the infamous games of 1936)
    • Children's Choirs perform hymns from the four countries of the UK (Jerusalem - England, Danny Boy - Northern Ireland, Flower of Scotland - Scotland, Bread of Heaven - Wales)
    • Men in Victorian dress enter and transform the "Green and Pleasant Land" into "Pandaemonium" (the capitol of Hell in Paradise Lost) symbolizing the Industrial Revolution
    • Olympic Rings forged and raised
  • Video of James Bond escorting the actual Queen Elizabeth onto a helicopter, actors base jump from helicopter above the stadium
  • Queen of England arrives with dignitaries
  • National Anthem performed by the Kaos Singing Choir for Deaf and Hearing Children
  • "Isle of Wonder" artistic segment ctd.
    • National Health Service segment with nurses and children dancing on beds
    • Children's dreams and nightmare segment featuring prominent figures in British literature
    • "Chariots of Fire" performed with comedic routine by Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean
    • British Pop Culture segment featuring pop music and television of the past century with dancers and subplot love story
    • "Abide with Me" performed Emeli Sande with dance by Akram Khan commemorating those lost in the 7/17 London terrorist attack in 2005, the day after London won the election to host the games (not aired in the US)
  • Parade of Nations
  • "I Bet you Look Good on the Dancefloor" and the Beattle's "Come Together" performed by the Arctic Monkeys as doves on bikes ride and fly among the athletes
  • Queen of England declares the games open
  • Olympic Flag raised to the Olympic Hymn (unsung)
  • Olympic Oaths taken
  • Olympic Flame arrives at the stadium; Cauldron lit by seven young athletes: Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds, and Adelle Trace
  • "Hey Jude" performed by Paul McCartney
Photos
2012 London Olympic Gold Medal

Torch from the 2012 London Olympics

Official Logo of the 2012 London Olympics
London 2012 Olympic Cauldron
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London

Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2008 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony - Beijing (entire ceremony)


The Games of the XXIX Olympiad
Beijing, China
2008
Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
Olympic Ceremony Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Olympic Ceremonies to Use LED Projection Floor
  • First Stadium Specifically Designed to Host a Ceremony Performance
  • First Cauldron Lit by Suspended Torchbearer
  • Most Nations Participating (204) - previous Athens 2004 (201)
  • Most Olympic Events (302) - previous Athens (301)
  • Most Athletes Participating (11,028) - previous Sydney 2000 (10,651)
Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • Most Torchbearers - 21,880 (previous Atlanta 1996 - 13,267)
  • Longest Torch Relay - 137,000km (previous Athens 2004 - 132,129km)
  • First Torch to Summit Mt. Everest

Opening Ceremony
Beijing National Stadium "Bird's Nest" (91,000)
August 8, 2008

Complete Video
(Viewer's Guide below in Ceremony Highlights)
Video may take some time to load depending on connection
If video doesn't load, click here 

Opening Ceremony Highlights
Beijing offered the Olympic Ceremony on the grandest scale.  Of course, many enjoy debating the importance of the event itself, however as it is commented in the video, Beijing produced the ceremony to an intricate level of near perfection, involving incredibly difficult coordinated stunts, and did so without any financial inhibition.  Beijing created an amazing display with deep homage to its artistic culture and certainly is popularly rewarded as "the greatest ceremony in history". It however should not be confused with its importance to the Olympic Ceremony history.  Beijing's influence is still yet to be seen, but surely it will live as one of the greatest spectacles in human history.
  • Welcome
    • Drumming Sequence
    • Countdown with drums
    • Footprint firework sequence
    • Olympic Rings formed
  • National Anthem
  • "Scroll" - artistic performance of mural art using large LED screen
  • "Writing" - artistic performance of a human powered movable type press
  • "Opera" - marionette performance of Peking opera
  • "Silk Road" - artistic performance of the maritime silk road with boats and costumed dancers; projected sea waves on the film awning above the stadium seats
  • "Music" - palace created honoring the classic paintings of China
  • "Starlight" - showcase of modern Chinese art; dancers form Bird's Nest, dove
  • "Nature" - martial art display honoring nature
  • "Dream" - Theme Song for the Beijing Games "You and Me"
  • Parade of Nations
  • Chinese President declares the games open
  • Olympic Flag enters the stadium and is raised to the Olympic Hymn
  • Torch enters stadium; Cauldron lit by Li Ning (Olympic Gymnast - 3 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze in 1984) 
Photos
Gold Medal from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
Olympic Torch from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
Official Poster of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
2008 Olympic Cauldron in Beijing
Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2004 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony - Athens (entire ceremony)


The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad
Athens, Greece
2004
Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympics in Athens
Olympic Ceremony Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First City to Host Three Official or Unofficial Olympic Games (1896, 1906 intercalated games, 2004 - the 1906 games weren't "unofficial" unitl the IOC Congress of 1948)
  • First Opening Ceremony to Fill Stadium Floor with Water
  • First Holograph
  • Most Nations Participating (201) - previous Sydney 2000 (199)
  • Most Olympic Events (301) - previous Sydney 2000 (300)
Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • Most Nations Traveled - 27 (previous Munich 1972 - 8) 
  • First Global Torch Relay
  • Longest Torch Relay - 132,129km (previous Sydney 2000 - 38,646km)

Opening Ceremony
Olympic Stadium (71,030)
August 13, 2004

Complete Video
(viewer's guide below in Ceremony Highlights)
Video may take some time to load depending on connection. 
If you are having trouble, click here

Official Report
(click the image below to download the Official Report - to large for embedding)

Opening Ceremony Highlights
Athens was under great financial stress coming into the games, yet their minimalist opening ceremony was magnificent.  Even though the ceremony could not compare to the size of Sydney, Athens incorporated many unique ideas and most importantly, planned the most effective music score combining the ethereal feel and modern minimalist grandeur of the event in every segment.  This would highly influence Beijing's music adaptations in 2008.
  • Welcome (1:00)
    • Drummers enter stadium
    • Comet launches from the video screen to the stadium floor filled with water, lighting the Olympic Rings
  • Wide Sea (6:20)
    • Boy in paper boat starts his journey across the water-filled stadium floor
    • President of Greece arrives with dignitaries
    • Greek National Anthem
  • Allegory (14:10)
    • Centaur enters the stadium lake
    • Giant marble head rises from the center of the lake
    • Projections of great Greek thinkers on the head
    • Head breaks into 8 pieces revealing statue of a young man
    • Statue breaks into 6 pieces revealing another statue depicting freedom
    • Cube appears on which a man walks
    • Fragments fall to stadium floor as islands in the Aegean Sea
  • Clepsydra (20:50)
    • Procession of Greek images through time
  • Book of Life (32:00)
    • Pregnant woman walks toward holographic DNA strand in the center of the lake
    • Goddess Athena makes an olive tree appear in the center of the stadium, islands come to together to form the Acropolis; water recedes
  • Parade of Nations (39:30)
  • "Oceania" performed by Bjork; dress covers athletes; dove projected upon the cloth (57:50)
  • Dedication to all the previous Olympic Hosts (1:04:00)
  • President of Greece declares the games open (1:08:00)
  • Olympic Flag enters the stadium and is raised to the Olympic Hymn (1:09:30)
  • Athlete's and Judge's Oaths (1:19:10)
  • Olympic Flame enters the stadium; cauldron is lit by Nikos Kaklamanakis (Gold Medalist in Windsurfing) (1:21:00)

Photos
Gold Medal from the 2004 Olympics in Athens
2004 Athens Olympic Torch
Official Poster of the 2004 Olympics in Athens
Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympics in Athens
Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympics in Athens
Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympics in Athens
2004 Olympic Cauldron in Athens

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2000 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony - Sydney (entire ceremony)


The Games of the XXVII Olympiad
Sydney, Australia
2000
Olympic Ceremony Records (Records at the time)
  • First Olympic Cauldron Lit into Water
  • First Mechanically Moving Olympic Cauldron
  • First Use of Suspended Puppetry
  • First Use of Suspended Performers
  • First Use of Fire-breathers
  • Largest Stadium to Host the Opening Ceremony (110,000) - previous Los Angeles 1932 (105,000)
  • Largest Crowd to Attend the Opening Ceremony (110,000) - previous Los Angeles 1932 (105,000)
  • Largest Crowd to Attend an Olympic Ceremony (114,714 - closing ceremony)
  • Most Nations Participating (199) - previous Atlanta 1996 (197)
  • Most Athletes Participating (10,651) - previous Atlanta 1996 (10,320)
  • Most Olympic Events (300) - previous Barcelona 1992 (286)
Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Olympic Cauldron Lit into Water
  • First Mechanically Moving Olympic Cauldron
  • First Flame Bungee Jumped
  • First Flame Surfed
  • First Flame Carried by Camel
  • First Flame Carried Underwater
  • First Flame Skied (summer Olympic record)
  • Longest Torch Relay - 38,646km (previous Atlanta 1996 - 34,011km)
Opening Ceremony
Stadium Australia (110,000)
September 15, 2000

Complete Video
(viewer's guide below in Ceremony Highlights)
Video may take some time to load depending on your connection
If you are having trouble, please click here

Opening Ceremony Highlights
At the time of the Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony, it was acknowledged universally as the greatest Opening Ceremony ever.  The pageantry and music were present on a most enormous scale.  The Olympic Opening Ceremony had established itself as one of the world's leading and most prestigious art forms with this impressive ceremony.  In addition, a competitiveness arose in how to "beat" previous ceremonies in the spectacular nature of the event.  Sydney astonished the world in a most ingenious cauldron lighting and in a theatrical display that left many to wonder if this ceremony could ever be "beat".
  • 120 riders on horseback form Olympic Rings (0:01)
  • Governor-General of Australia arrives with dignitaries
  • National Anthem (6:30)
  • "Deep Sea Dreaming" artistic segment (11:45)
    • Hero Girl dreams of sea life, swimming among the creatures
    • Hero Girl is sucked into a whirlpool
  • "Awakening" (19:40)
    • Hero Girl awakes to the dawn of Australia guided by a Songman
    • Songman awakens the land spirits; aboriginal dance/ceremony
  • "Nature" (31:20)
    • Bolt of lightning causes giant brush fire
    • Regeneration of life
  • "Tin Symphony" (43:20)
    • Europeans arrive to Australia
  • "Arrivals" (56:40)
    • The world immigrates to Australia
  • "Eternity" (1:07:50)
    • Modern Sydney
  • Sydney Olympic Band performance (1:21:00)
  • Parade of Nations (1:33:50)
  • "Dare to Dream" performed by Olivia Newton-John and John Farnham (1:54:30)
  • Minister Knight, Sir William Deane declares the games open
  • "Heroes Live Forever" performed by Vanessa Amorosi; giant Olympic flag/projection of dove covers spectators (1:59:40)
  • Olympic Flag enters the stadium and raised to the Olympic Hymn (2:04:40)
  • Athlete's and Judge's Oaths (2:12:40)
  • "The Flame" performed by Tina Arena (2:14:00)
  • Olympic Flame arrives at the stadium; cauldron lit into water by Cathy Freeman (2:18:00)

Photos
Gold Medal from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney

Olympic Torch from the 2000 games in Sydney

Official Poster of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney

Sydney 2000 Olympic Band performance during the Opening Ceremony
Cathy Freeman lights the Olympic Cauldron
Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney

Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney
Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney

Monday, July 23, 2012

1996 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony - Atlanta (entire ceremony)


The Games of the XXVI Olympiad
Atlanta, Georgia
1996
Opening Ceremony from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta
Olympic Ceremony Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Olympic Cauldron Lit by Wire and Pully
  • First Opera Written and Performed for the Opening Ceremony
  • First Artistic Use of Cars
  • First Use of Silhouette Imagery
  • First Flame Brought into the Stadium from Underground
  • First Use of Puppets in Dove Release
  • First Tribute to an Individual Not Associated with the Olympics (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)
  • First Entrance of the Athletes from a Ramp Above the Stadium
  • Most Nations Participating (197) - previous Barcelona 1992 (170)
  • Most Athletes Participating (10,320) - previous Barcelona 1992 (9,356)
Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Olympic Cauldron Lit by Wire and Pully
  • First Flame Transported by Train
  • Most Torchbearers - 13,267 (previous Barcelona 1992 - 9,484)
  • Longest Torch Relay - 34,011km (previous Tokyo 1964 - 27,065km)

Opening Ceremony
Centennial Olympic Stadium (85,600)
July 19, 1996

Complete Video - may take some time to load depending on connection
(As with the 1976 games, I am providing the world's only digital/online video of the complete ceremony from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.)
If video doesn't load - click here
Spanish language version
Following the Opening Ceremony of Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta was faced with a monstrous task of creating a ceremony that could compete.  Atlanta didn't have the flare that Barcelona used in lighting the cauldron, but Atlanta did produce one of the largest artistic displays in world history.  Spending $15 million on the ceremony alone, Atlanta gave performances by the worlds greatest pop and classical musicians including a spectacular opera written especially for the Opening Ceremony, an obvious first in Olympic history.  Atlanta choreographed the artistic segments to flow continuously, containing an overriding dramatic plot - a tactic used in every ceremony since.
  • Spirits and Tribes of the Olympic Rings emerge; drum sequence; form Olympic Rings
  • "Summon the Heroes" by John Williams performed
  • Welcoming of President Clinton and other dignitaries
  • National Anthem w/ jet flyover
  • "Atlanta" artistic segment of hip hop dance, marching bands, cheer leaders, chrome pickups
  • Gladys Knight performs "Georgia On My Mind"
  • "American South" pageant opera
    • "Southern Summer Night" - butterflies and fireflies; moon greets the morning sun
    • "The River" - Old Man River flows through the south led by four catfish; floating down the river are giant puppet jazz dancers, jazz bands, belles, gents
    • "The Storm" - giant Native American Thunderbird covers the land, symbolically representing the destruction of the American Civil War
    • "Rebirth and Celebration" - Southern Spirits rise again
  • Tribute to the Centennial of the Olympics - Temple of Zeus artistic segment using silhouette imagery; following is the rebirth of the modern games with a quote by de Coubertin, flags with the names of all the Olympic Hosts emerge and run around the track, Atlanta's runs up a large ramp signalling the beginning of the Parade of Nations
  • Parade of Nations
  • President of the United States declares the games open
  • Olympic Flag enters the stadium to "Simple Gifts"; raised during the Olympic Hymn
  • 300 puppet doves carried among the athletes and around the track
  • "I have a Dream" artistic segment dedicated to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Commemoration of the greatest living Olympians of the past century
  • Olympic Flame enters the stadium through underground tunnel; cauldron is lit by Muhammad Ali (1960 Gold Medalist in Boxing)
  • Athlete's and Judge's Oaths
  • Celine Dion perform "The Power of the Dream"
  • Opera great Jessye Norman perform "Faster, Higher, Stronger" with Fireworks display
Photos
Gold Medal from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta

Olympic Torch from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta

Official Poster of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta

Olympic Cauldron from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta
Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta
Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta

Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta
Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta
Centennial Olympic Stadium - partially torn down following the games, the stadium is now Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team