The ceremony was attended by 35,000 spectators with the presence of numerous international and Italian guests on the stage and heads of state and government on the stands. The event was broadcast live to an estimated two-billion audience worldwide by 32 television cameras.
The ceremony saluted the region's culture and history, was highlighted by Italian celebrities and showcased Italian designs. There were the customary parade of athletes and raising of the host nation's flag and the Olympic flag. Apart from the choreography, the fireworks, and the pageantry, the ceremony was a reminder of peace as a goal of these Games. It climaxed with the lighting of the Olympic Flame.
There were sentiments of self-conceit amongst TOROC for not including a tribute section during the Opening Ceremonies honoring the Past Host Cities of the previous installments of the Olympic Winter Games that was the very first part of the XIX Olympic Winter Games that had been held in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 8, 2002.
The ceremony was conducted in French and English, the two official languages of the International Olympic Committee, and Italian, the language of the host country. The program was executed by 6,100 volunteers and 240 professionals after 15,000 man days of work.
The Opening Ceremonies began with a traditional countdown by the spectators. Italian gymnast Yuri Chechi as a shaman striking an anvil with a hammer opened the first scene of the program representing the industrial past of the Piedmont region. Each strike spewed up a fountain of flames and were responded to with flames over three metres high, lit from 52 nozzles lined up around the piazza. A group of inline skaters in red unitards soon entered and executed their choreograph and formations. With the fire, costume and flood light, the stage was soon turned into a sea of red. In the mosh pit, performers executed synchronised swimming moves to the pulsing rhythm. It was said that the choreographer was inspired by synchronised swimming when he saw the event for the first time in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
The skaters then gyrated to the pulsing rhythm forming a familiar heart shape pumping to the beat. The formation was soon shattered when a lone skater symbolising a spark of passion shot through the beating heart. Six helmet-donning skaters then entered with two-foot flames flared from the back of their helmets and criscrossed the stage.
Following the exit of the flaming skaters, the sounding of seven alphorns to the notes of the Occitan Hymn signaled the beginning of the next segment that paid tribute to the Alps and the seven Alpine countries: Italy, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Slovenia. Artificial snow and life-size pine tree shapes set the mood for this segment as the stage was transformed from red to white.
It had been 14 years since the Winter Olympic Games were last held in the Alps, in 1992 in Albertville, France. The 13 million people living in the mountainous region were represented by dancers waltzing in their national costumes. Life-size cow effigies .were pulled in and paraded around the stage representing the significance of the dairy farming industry in the Alpine region. Three waltzing couples in cow suits soon entered the scene, while cow bells were heard ringing from the crowd.
After the stage was cleared, 50 performers in white unitards entered with very large white balloons on their heads symbolising the arrival of the snowflakes. A change of music signalled the exit of the snowflakes and in the mosh pit performers formed a snowflake which was lit up by flashlights as the segment came to a close.
Entry of the Authorities
This section paid tribute to the Italian flag whose entrance was led by 26 Olympic medalists in white suits and gowns marching in two files. Following the athletes was model and singer Carla Bruni carrying a folded Italian flag. Bruni wore a sparkling gown by Giorgio Armani, inspired by crystal and ice.
The stage was flooded in the Italian colours red, white, and green by the coloured spotlights at the top of the stadium as the entrance of the President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge and the President of Italy Carlo Azeglio Ciampi was announced.
Sustained drumbeats set a mood as three military police officers entered and retrieved the flag from Bruni and brought it to the flag pole.
The flag was raised by Giorgio Armani to the solo rendition of the Italian national anthem after a short pastoral orchestra introduction (as oppose to the usual marching introduction). Il Canto degli Italiani was performed by nine-year-old Eleonora Benetti wearing the Italian tricolour. Her verse ended as the choir joined in for the much more rapid refrain.
The Great Skier
467 performers, each wearing one of the Olympic colours, then entered and created a ski jumper formation after the playing of the Italian national anthem. The choreography showed an animated ski jumper gliding down the slope, flying through the air and eventually landing on the ground. Puffs of air could be seen as the jumper prepared his jump. Performers carrying a blue banner then entered to show the skier gliding down the slope. The figure was lit up by flashlights in a formation of a ski jumper in flight. The ski jumper eventually made a telemark landing on the ground as performers released confetti and cheered as the segment came to a close.
The Sparks of Passion reentered the stadium in this segment where the largest and tallest Olympic Rings for the Opening Ceremonies would be created. Acrobats could be seen maneuvering on three ring shaped frames floating up and down along four lattice columns on the opposite end of the stadium to the stage and the mosh pit. Dancers in red unitards below gyrated to pulsing beats as the theme of passion returned for this segment of the program. While the acrobats descended to the ground, two additional ring shaped frames were raised. The five circular frames were flipped vertically revealing the five Olympic Rings shimmering in light. The rings were then illuminated in the Olympic colours and the structure was lit up in fireworks. The black ring in the centre of the symbol was substituted with white since it is impossible to produce black light.
The national teams then entered underneath the five-ring structure in the traditional Parade of Nations. Like with all Olympic games, the first team to emerge was Greece, since it was the birthplace of the games, and the host nation Italy entered last. The rest of the nations entered following the alphabetical order according to the spelling of the country in Italian, the language of the host country, perhaps as a new tradition to the games stringed from the 2004 Athens games. Previously, only the French and English names of the countries were followed as they are the official languages of the Olympic movement.
The names of the nations were announced first in Italian, then in English and followed by French.
North Korea and South Korea marched together under the Unification Flag for the first time in the Winter Olympic Games. The two nations have been doing so since the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. North Korea, however, did not participate in the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Altogether, 80 National Olympic Committees participated in the Games, an increase from 77 in the previous Winter Games.
The atelier Moschino designed the clothes of the women bearing the placards with team names for the athletes' parade. The dresses were shaped as snowy mountain tops, complete with pine trees and small houses lit up by embedded lights. Miss Italia, Edelfa Chiara Masciotta, was carrying the placard for team Italy who wore a special dress designed to pay tribute to Turin. Frank Fernandez, from Atlanta, was carrying the placard for the team Brunei. See video clip at 5:15 on
The march of the Olympic teams was accompanied by a selection of 1970s and 1980s American and European disco music, including "Video Killed the Radio Star," "YMCA" by the Village People, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "Daddy Cool" by Boney M and songs by the Doobie Brothers and Eurythmics.
The following table lists the countries and territories in the order of their entrance. It is worth noting that not all the athletes participated in the opening ceremonies, as some may have chosen to prepare themselves for races and competitions that were scheduled the very next morning. Other commitments may have prevented some athletes from participating in the parade. For example, most men's hockey teams would not arrive in Turin until the following week since most of the players are involved with the NHL. On the other hand, the parade includes officials, judges, coaches and other team staff.
|Italian Name||Nation||Flag bearer||Athletes|
|Algeria||Christelle Laura Douibi||2|
|Argentina||Maria Belen Simari Birkner||9|
|Belgio||Kevin Van Der Perren||4|
|Bosnia Erzegovina||Aleksandra Vasiljević||6|
|Repubblica Ceca||Martina Sáblíková||85|
|Cina||Yang Yang (A)||78|
|Costa Rica||Arthur James Barton||1|
Jugoslava di Macedonia
|Gran Bretagna||Great Britain||Rhona Martin||40|
|Hong Kong, Cina||Yueshuang Han||1|
|Iran||Saveh Shemshaki Shemshaki||2|
|Isole Vergini||Anne Abernathy||1|
|Mongolia||Khurel Baatar Khash-Erdene||2|
|Nuova Zelanda||Sean Becker||18|
|Paesi Bassi||Jan Bos||35|
|San Marino||Marino Cardelli||1|
|Serbia e Montenegro||Jelena Lolović||6|
|Spagna||Maria Jose Rienda||16|
|Stati Uniti d'America||Chris Witty||211|
|Sud Africa||Alexander Heath||3|
|Taipei Cinese||Chih-Hung Ma||1|
After a short homage to Dante and The Divine Comedy, there were Renaissance and Baroque displays, with an homage to Arcimboldo. A scene was based on the Birth of Venus painting. The role of Venus was played by Czech supermodel Eva Herzigová, emerging from a shell like in the Birth of Venus by Botticelli. A dance played a major part in the ceremony, as well as displays of flag waving and baroque bands. Sportscaster Bob Costas called it a celebration of the emergence from the dark days of the Middle Ages, embracing the intellectual pursuits of art, literature and music.
The segment started with a modern ballet performance which led from a replica of Umberto Boccioni's sculpture "Unique Forms of Continuity in Space" to a celebration of Futurism. Roberto Bolle performed as lead in the dance part . He represented the futuristic hero, dancing with other mechanical dancers to show modernity, technology, and speed. The second part was performed by kung-fu athletes representing futuristic soldiers, while in the final section a group of bodybuilders pushed 6 motorbikes in the center of the stadium, thus emphasizing the role played by speed and technology in Futurism.
Italian driver Luca Badoer drove a red Ferrari F1 car bearing only the Olympic Rings, Torino 2006 name and Italian tricolore to the centre of the stadium, performing 'donuts' and revving the V10 engine for a few minutes.
Address by the President of the International Olympic Committee
President of the Republic of Italy: Opening of the Games
Entry of the Olympic Flag
After the Parade of Nations had concluded and the athletes were gathered in the center of the stadium, two short speeches in Italian, French and English were delivered.
The first speech came from Valentino Castellani, the chief organizer of the Torino 2006 Olympic Games. He declared the industrial city "the world capital of sports" during the Olympics.
Valentino Castellani was followed by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, who told the Olympic athletes, "Your achievements will inspire and motivate future generations," before adding, "Please compete cleanly, without using doping." Rogge also hoped for peace during his short speech. "Our world today is in need of peace and brotherhood, the values of the Olympic Games," he said. "May these Games be held in peace in the true spirit of the Olympic Truce."
Following the trend set from the selection of eight personalities representing the five continents and the three pillars of Olympism at the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, the flag was brought this time into the stadium by eight women:
Their walk with the flag was accompanied by Giuseppe Verdi's "Triumphant March," from Aida. The Olympic flag was then handed over to eight members of the Alpini, an Italian infantry unit, who raised the flag while the Olympic Anthem was played.
Italian skier Giorgio Rocca recited the Olympic Oath on behalf of all the athletes from the podium followed by Fabio Bianchetti from the International Skating Union reading the oath on behalf of all judges. Interestingly it was in the last Winter Games that a scandalous judging controversy was revealed involving the Canadian pair of Jamie Salé and David Pelletier and a French judge who manipulated results to award the Russian pairs a gold medal.
A Song of Peace
Twenty-eight acrobats climbed on a net set up on the main stage and executed their choreographed manoeuvres, spinning and flipping to the music. At the end of the routine they all came together and formed the shape of a dove, the symbol of peace, to a roaring cheer from the crowd.
Yoko Ono, dressed in white like many of the people in the ceremony (the spectators were provided with, and most wore, a white poncho, symbolizing the snow which makes the Winter Olympics possible (and which was rarely seen in the previous years in Piedmont)), then entered and read a free verse poem from a prepared script calling for peace in the world. She called for "taking action" to spread peace. Ono's poem served as an introduction to a rendition of her late husband John Lennon's Imagine by Peter Gabriel.
Lighting of the Cauldron
The Olympic System
The Olympic Torch entered the stadium in the hand of Alberto Tomba, who then passed the flame to the hands of the 1994 men's Italian cross country skiing relay team (Marco Albarello, Giorgio Vanzetta, Maurilio De Zolt, and Silvio Fauner). The flame was then passed to Piero Gros, then Deborah Compagnoni before the Olympic Flame was lit by former Italian cross-country skier Stefania Belmondo. Belmondo paused to show the torch to the cheering crowd one last time before placing it on the arched lighting apparatus. The flame initiated a series of fireworks before lighting the top of the 57-meter high Olympic Flame, the highest in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.
The cauldron lighting was also the first in recent memory to be lit indirectly, that is, the flame did not directly touch or travel to (such as the arrow lighting at the 1992 Summer Olympics) the cauldron itself. The precise timing of the pyrotechnics was obviously computer timed from the precise moment the flame touched the center frame in the center of the stadium. Because of the elaborate fireworks, it is highly unlikely the flame travelled to all the charges directly. However, it is possible that the cauldron was lit from a backup flame inside, or that an electronic signal from Belmondo's apparatus to the cauldron served as the "flame" (much like the 1976 Summer Olympics where a satellite signal carried the "flame" from Greece to Canada, though not at the opening ceremony).
Allegro with Fire
After the largest curtain yet to be built revealed him on the stage, Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, wearing a black cape embroidered with silver Olympic rings, ended the ceremony by singing Giacomo Puccini's well-known aria Nessun Dorma from the opera Turandot, which ends with the victorious line "At dawn, I shall win!" Pavarotti's performance caused NBC Olympic commentator Brian Williams to proclaim "And the master brings the house down." Indeed, the tenor's performance received the longest and loudest ovation of the opening ceremony from the international crowd. This would prove to be Pavarotti's final public performance of his signature song.
However, Pavarotti lip-synched his own performance because Leone Magiera, the maestro who conducted the aria, felt the cold weather made it difficult for Pavarotti, who was in pain from cancer treatment, to perform live.