On 25 July, over 65,000 people filled the Olympic Stadium in Montjuïc to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Barcelona '92 Olympic Games. They included 27 heads of state from around the world.
It became immediately apparent that this ceremony would be spectacular. 800 artists formed a mosaic on the grass with the word "Hola" while they shouted it out loud, to greet the whole world. This would become one of the most memorable moments of the ceremony.
This was followed by a series of performances based on a common theme of popular culture, including the sardana dance performed by Montserrat Caballé, Josep Carreras and dancers from La Bisbal de l’Empordà, the drumming by the Tamborers del Baix Aragó, castellers [human towers] and flamenco. There was also space for fashion, painting and architecture, showing pieces inspired by the work of Gaudí, Dalí, Miró and Goya.
One of the most outstanding moments was the performance by the Fura dels Baus, when a vessel emerged in a silver sea separating the continents of Africa and Europe, made up of hundreds of people, and a giant-sized, articulated metal Hercules. It progressed through the stadium, culminating in the foundation of the city of Barcelona.
After the nearly 10,000 athletes and their delegations had entered the Stadium, Pasqual Maragall, the Mayor of Barcelona, gave a speech containing various calls for peace in the former state of Yugoslavia (which was then at war) and evoking the memory of the 1936 People's Olympiad which, in the end, was never held in Barcelona because of the Spanish Civil War.
The ceremony, which was a magnificent way of presenting Barcelona to the world, included the participation of the lyrical singers Victòria dels Àngels, Jaume Aragall, Teresa Berganza, Montserrat Caballé, Josep Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Alfredo Kraus, Joan Pons and Agní Baltsa. Also taking part were the musicians Carles Santos and Ryuichi Sakamoto, as well as the dancer Cristina Hoyos.
A fireworks display closed the ceremony when it was already past 11 pm, to the music of Himno a la Alegria [A Song of Joy], performed by a choir.
Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games
The Opening Ceremony was held on 3 September at the Olympic Stadium in Montjuïc, in front of 65,000 spectators. A dancer started off the ceremony by dancing while she progressed through the stadium, in a show that gave ample exposure to the different forms of Catalan popular culture.
As with the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, this was a vibrant show, full of colour and dynamic performances. Hundreds of artists made their way around the stadium's track, creating various choreographies and shapes, sending messages to the spectators and the hundreds of millions of people watching on television.
Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games
The Closing Ceremony was held on 9 August 1992, bringing to an end 16 days in which 10,000 athletes took part in 32 sports, 3 of which were demonstration sports. 16 days of "the best Olympic Games ever", according to Joan Antoni Samaranch, the President of the International Olympic Committee, during his speech.
The mounted Guàrdia Urbana police, the dance of Cristina Hoyos performing "El Amor Brujo" by Manuel de Falla, and the Himno a la Alegría opened the ceremony.
After passing Olympic control to the city of Atlanta, which would be hosting the Games in 1996, Placido Domingo performed the Olympic Hymn while the Olympic flag was lowered. The cellist Lluís Claret and the soprano Victoria dels Àngels bade farewell to the Olympic flame with "El cant dels ocells” [Song of the Birds].
Then came a great performance by Els Comediants, in which 850 artists staged the origin of the world, conceived as a festival of singing with fire and celestial bodies, which filled the stadium. This involved large inflatable planets that floated up into the sky, large fantastical characters and fireworks.
And just before a huge inflatable Cobi rose up into the sky on board a paper vessel, Josep Carreras and Sarah Brightman sang "Friends for Life", and Carles Santos played his own music on the piano under the fireworks.
As everyone remembers, the ceremony ended to the rhythm of rumba, after all the country delegations paraded around the stadium track. Peret, Los Amaya and Los Manolos turned the end of the 25th Summer Olympic Games into an authentic festival. The enthusiasm and vitality shown by the athletes, the volunteers, the spectators, the journalists and the authorities was transmitted through the TV screens and was a clear expression of how the Games signified a leap forward for the city, for sport and for Olympic history.
Closing Ceremony of the Paralympic Games
On 14 September 1992, the Olympic Stadium opened its doors to host the 9th Summer Paralympic Games. After speeches made by the authorities and after Atlanta took the baton once the Paralympic flag was taken down, the US city put on a display combining dance and gospel music.
Afterwards, at a ceremony designed as a great concert, a range of artists took to the stage: Tete Montoliu, Bobby Hutcherson, Toti Soler, Farruco, La Baus, Sau, Víctor Manuel and Ana Belén... finally, Los Manolos and Peret brought the festivities to a close as they had done two months prior.