Gisele Bündchen walked down the runway at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium during the opening ceremony Friday night as a piano player played the song “The Girl from Ipanema.”
The Rio 2016 opening ceremony may not have had the budget of London or Beijing – not anywhere close, really – but organizers made up for it with a host of tricks to make for a compelling show.
Utilizing video, lighting effects and the stunning beauty of Gisele Bundchen, the show never felt unprofessional or lacking in big moments.
Creative director Fernando Meirelles said that the original budget for four ceremonies — the Olympics opening ceremony, closing ceremony and those for the Paralympics — was $113.9 million. But before the Games, he said this budget was cut to $55.9 million, 12 times less than the budget for the London ceremonies and 20 times less than Beijing.
The show’s set was spare, relying on little more than a large blank stage at Maracana Stadium, two raised platforms, and on one end, a series of large blocks arranged to appear like a crowded cityscape. The large floor acted as a video board, with images of rainforests, waves and teetering buildings projected onto it as dancers leaped across them.
Perhaps the simplest – and most compelling – moment of the entire opening ceremony came from Gisele, the Brazilian supermodel, who needed only a spotlight and accompaniment of Daniel Jobim singing The Girl from Ipanema to hold the crowd’s attention for minutes as she strode the entire length of the stadium in a silver dress.