"In Barcelona it is quite easy to improve on what has been done before"

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The Catalan publicist Luis Bassat was one of the organizers of the memorable opening and closing ceremonies Barcelona’92 Olympic Games, which celebrates its 30th anniversary today, Monday. Yes, three decades have passed and those Games and ceremonies remain in the memory of the whole world, marking the before and after of the Olympic movement. With an agenda full of interviews, Bassat kindly attended Mundo Deportivo to, in an analytical and calm way, talk again about a historic event, about two absolutely magical nights, about 16 days that not only glorious and about an event that changed history. of the city of Barcelona.

How does a man like Lluis Bassat see these ceremonies three decades later?

When Pasqual Maragall called me to go to the contest to fix them I told him no, that what I saw on television seemed terrible and I replied that if he wanted we would publicize the Game. And he told me no, that he wanted an opening ceremony to advertise in Barcelona, ​​​​​​Catalonia and Spain. And with this phrase, now for the story, I thought, well maybe yes, I’m not an expert in ceremonies but I am an expert in advertising and I decided to enter the contest.

How?

I didn’t plan to do a show, I planned to do a three-and-a-half-hour spot live.

What were the first decisions you made?

First the music, what we will put, I said to myself, that when the world looks at us, it will say, hell with Barcelona, ​​​​​​Catalonia and Spain. The modern singers at the time who were famous all over the world, there was only Julio Iglesias and I thought, I have to bring something better, and I thought of doing an opera because, except for Pavarotti, the other great men- singers are from here: Plácido , Carreras, Caballé, Kraus, Berganza , Pons… the winners of the Metropolitan in New York, in Tokyo, the Scala in Milan… are all Spanish. And that’s where it all started.

Have you ever thought about hiring a musical director and which director?

That’s right, and it’s Josep Carreras. But it took me three months to get to talk to him, he didn’t stop: Vienna, Paris, Tokyo… And in the end, on my trip to New York, I caught him by chance. We met at his hotel, I explained what I wanted, I told him that we couldn’t pay him a penny, just a symbolic peseta. And he accepted immediately. Then for the Fura dels Baus number, with the show in the Mediterranean, we needed someone who did really good film music, and the Oscar winner that year for Best Soundtrack was a Japanese, Ruychi Sakamoto. If I call him he won’t pick up the phone but if Carreras calls, yes. He dressed us, welcomed us and made us the music of the Mediterranean Sea. When we want music for lighting the pot, the same thing, we think of the American Badalamenti, who made music for great films and was also accepted. And finally, looking for someone to close it all, ‘Friends Forever’, we believe that the composer with the greatest worldwide success is Andrew Lloyd Webber, on Broadway and in London’s West End. He is an ultra-millionaire, he accepted the assignment, he invited us to his house, we joined Carreras and were part of the team. He sat down at the piano and played it for us for the first time. At the show in Plaça Sant Jaume the other day, I got goosebumps remembering that moment. We instantly fell in love and told him: ‘man, you’ve got it right’.

And from here?

Well, we started to build the ceremonies, we were not the only winners of the contest, we were ‘forced’ to partner with Ovideo. Josep Miquel Abad put us in his office, locked it and Pepo Sol told us that no one would leave until an agreement was reached. ‘You have to get along’.

Are there before and after Olympic ceremonies with the one organized by Barcelona?

Of course because the previous ones were pretty horrible. Samaranch said it was the best in history and it was not difficult to improve on what had been done before. I say this with all modesty and humility. It is relatively easy to improve on what has been done before.

Please explain the main lines of this ‘improvement’.

We had a common thread, we explained the history of the Olympic Games with the ship that left Olympia and arrived in Barcelona, ​​​​​​​​a number that was well done by ‘Fura’. They were the three best years of my life, the last seven months I didn’t set foot in my office, I worked in an office at the Estadi Olímpic from 8 am to 2 am, every day. We rehearsed everything. The number of the Mediterranean Sea, 44 times. We couldn’t hire dancers because we didn’t have money, they were volunteers, there were a lot of people with waves designed by the Englishman… They charged for breakfast, lunch and snacks, nothing more. You have to rehearse a lot because it’s not professional.

The praise that most reached him?

One from Samaranch: ‘They have been the best ceremonies in history’. King Juan Carlos made me climb into the box and told me something so beautiful that I kept to myself.

Is there a critical moment when, say, oysters, everything goes to hell?

There are many. The stage had to have five large Olympic rings which had to be installed three months before the opening. They are made of wood, beautiful, they assembled them and after some time they told me that they fell and did not have time to make them again in time to try them. There was depression among 165 people in the group who worked on the ceremonies. I prepared dinner, we opened bottles of cava, I improvised a speech telling them that in life something always goes wrong and that night we had bad luck. Fortunately it was three months ago and we had time to repair and we were able to build other towers. ‘Let’s be quiet’ I told them. Everything went but more problems. Without further ado, in a rehearsal with the public, I was with a group of people, this was the second rehearsal with the public, yes, the ‘Fura’ boat did not leave and did not leave and the ceremony was should be stopped. to see what happens. The boat had no engine and when it went down the slope, pushed by its inertia, and carried by the people, into the stadium, it collided with the garbage truck that that day was badly parked and had a piece sticking out. As the ship passed, it collided with the truck, which took days to repair and the damage went unnoticed.

Do you have the magical idea of ​​lighting a pot?

Nope. The designer of the first stage, an architect named Arribas, when asked where the Olympic flame would rise to light the cauldron, said: ‘it will be lit by the bow and arrow’. The kneeling archer is already evident in his design. We didn’t hire him because the set didn’t fit the bill, but we paid him a symbolic gold coin for the idea that he had it and it survived…

The second after the closing ceremony was over, were you more than relieved?

I went down to the stadium, on the grass, I extended my arms in a cross and a photographer of ours who was coming towards me told her: that’s all. This is a picture I have hanging in my house. This is the most important and rewarding work of my life after creating more than two thousand advertising spots and more than two thousand advertising campaigns. Nothing compares to it.

Are you saying this for the audience?

Of course. They stopped me in the street and said to me: ‘Are we going to be nice?’ I felt an overwhelming responsibility.

One last anecdote…

On the morning of July 25, tears fell as I looked at myself in the mirror, I wasn’t crying. My husband called the doctor and told me to drink lime and it passed. I couldn’t handle the tension without crying. I barely told four friends.

After Barcelona, ​​did they ask you for cooperation, advice, counsel and support in the next ceremonies?

In Atlanta’96 Samaranch invited me and asked for help a couple of weeks before the inauguration because I didn’t see him. It’s a drama. I saw a rehearsal and I told him that, more or less, it wasn’t amazing but it wasn’t scary either. There was not enough light, the sound was unbearable in row 1 and inaudible in the last row, and there was no room in the stadium for fifteen thousand athletes. The parade lasted three hours, twice as long as in Barcelona, ​​​​​​and the stadium was left half empty. People couldn’t stand it and left in the middle of the parade.

Overcoming the goalkeeper Rebollo seems like something quite impossible but you will agree with me that the effect of seeing Muhammad Ali at the top of the tower next to the cauldron with his hand shaking holding the torch is a moment of brutal effect.

No doubt. That was the best thing about that ceremony

Source: La Verdad

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