Francophone Games to kick off with a bang in Beirut
By Sam Tarling
Special to The Daily Star
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
BEIRUT: When the 6th Francophone Games open in Beirut later this month it will be to a spectacular fanfare, set to stun viewers from around the globe. Around 3,000 spectators will enjoy first-hand the finest offerings of Lebanese performing arts on September 27 as over 1,200 performers enact a journey “to and from” Lebanon, said opening ceremony producer Daniel Charpentier. The ceremony will also be transmitted live to the televisions of some 70 million spectators across the world.
The event should be in safe hands: Charpentier’s previous works include grand ceremonies at top-flight sporting events, such as the closing ceremony of the World Track and Field Championships in 2003 and the opening of the African Nations Cup, also in 2003.
It seems the 6th Francophone Games will be no exception to Charpentier’s celebrated standard. Based on the theme of a journey through Lebanon, the ceremony will revolve around a gigantic 9,000 meter-square screen on which images will be presented to “tell a human adventure, the adventure of the country of Lebanon,” Charpentier told reporters at the French Embassy Tuesday.
Some 200 musicians, 100 dancers, 60 singers, 700 local Scouts and 500 volunteers will be involved in the four-part ceremony. The spectacle will begin with a fanfare by musicians of Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces, before hundreds of Scouts welcome guests to the Camille Chamoun Sports City in south Beirut.
Once President Michel Sleiman has declared the games open, the stadium will be plunged into darkness before performers take a symbolic journey across Lebanon.
“We will have all of our artists walk a golden road throughout the country. At the same time we will be showing the wealth of this country to those who are watching all around the globe.
“The text will say that humanity has put on the shores of Lebanon wealth, treasures, and in particular its people. Starting from this point we will go to Byblos where we will discover the thousands of letters of the alphabet.
“We will go to Tripoli, and to Baalbeck. The sun will slowly set on Tyre while two queens, Elisar [who will found Carthage], and Europa [who will found the continent], will have us cross all the seas to take us to the meeting of the Francophonie,” Charpentier said, adding, “The noise of Beirut will resonate, the noise of the city, that of life, but also the call for the prayer, the bells of the churches, just to say that this earth is one of sharing.”
The Francophone Games opening ceremony will also feature 50 dancers from Lebanon that will “welcome all countries,” he said.
Charpentier said the ceremony would close with a triumphant chorus featuring all the artists involved, beneath an extravagant firework display. “For all the participants, it will be an emotive moment, of a new era of the memory of having participated in a profoundly human event for Lebanon and its people,” he said.
Some 700,000 free tickets for the event will be available from September 17 at Virgin Megastore, Libanpost branches and Antoine bookstore or visit www.jeux.2009.org