Unique and noisy opening

BERLIN: Germany stages the World Cup's first opening gala next year and organisers promise it will be nothing like the extravaganzas seen at the Olympics and the Superbowl. 

The gala's artistic director, Austrian Andre Heller, unveiled his creative team including British rock musicians Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel on Wednesday. 

He aims to keep the spectacle on June 7 a surprise but he promises the gala will have no parade of superstars and will not echo the local themes used at other major sporting events. 

“We have an enormous space to fill but we won't do it with banal figures,” he said. 

Performers will include American soprano Jessye Norman, US band Black Eyed Peas, Algerian singer Cheb Khaled and around 5,000 volunteers. 

DIFFERENT HUES: Performers for the World Cup opening gala display faces painted in the colours of the countries who have qualified forthe 2006 World Cup in Germany next year pose for the camera during a rehearsal on Wednesday. – APpic

Previous World Cups have held opening ceremonies. They typically lasted about an hour immediately before the first match. World Cup 2006 will start what world governing body FIFA hopes will be a new tradition – a separate festivity to mark the start of the tournament, in this case two days before the first ball is kicked. 

Eno, a former member of Roxy Music who has produced albums by U2 and David Bowie, is composing a 2006 World Cup anthem using instruments from across the world to form a very different orchestra. 

Music director Gabriel, once of Genesis, promised to “make some noise”. Asked why he had signed up, he joked: “It's the same attraction for a musician as for a footballer – money, sex and drugs.” 

Heller is relying on inspiration from avant-garde choreographer Philippe Decoufle. The Frenchman shot to fame after he directed the surreal Cirque du Soleil-style opening and closing ceremonies at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville. 

Decoufle's shows featured a polka with braying donkey sounds mixed with fiddles and figures emerging from the sky, including suspended ski jumpers and an angel to put out the flame. 

“I saw ceremonies for 30 years. One was different – Albertville 92. It was a shock that an artist and not a Disney type was putting on the show,” Heller said. 

The budget of around 25 million euros (US$29.4 million) is dwarfed by the more than 100 million euros needed to put on the ceremonies at the 2004 Athens Olympics. 

After the applause has died, organisers will have to pull down the entire set within 12 hours to spare the grass in Berlin ahead of the World Cup's first match on June 13. – Reuters 

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