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Pegasus brings Expo to life

Pegasus will be swooping in to open the ceremony

(Keystone)

The director of Expo's opening ceremony, François Rochaix, found his inspiration in Greek mythology.

He chose mythology, he says, because there were no local tales with enough substance to build a proper story, and because the Swiss public could relate to it, no matter what their linguistic background.

The ceremony is divided into 11 sequences, rather like circus numbers. The opening sees the arrival of Pegasus, the symbol of Time. A hymn to the night written by Swiss author, Maurice Chappaz, is then sung simultaneously on all four arteplages.

The first act begins with the construction of the tower of Babel. During the interlude, mermaids rise from the waters of the lake.

Prometheus takes centre stage

Prometheus, the father of humankind, is the central player in the second act. But each arteplage will show a different version of his myth. The third and final act will be unique to each town of the Expo.

The sets for the ceremony were designed by Jean-Claude Maret, who has worked with Rochaix on a number of occasions, the last being the Fête des Vignerons (winegrowers festival) in Vevey. Maret chose to build sets with a maritime theme.

The costumes were the work of Francine Lecoultre, a Swiss specialist who made a name for herself in Hollywood. Among her recent movie credits are "Batman & Robin", "Star Trek Insurrection", "Mission to Mars" and "The Cell".

Music remains the mainstay of the entire production. Rochaix plumped for diversity, choosing classical, jazz and rock written and performed by both German and French-speaking singers and singer-songwriters.

So will all this variety be too much for the spectators to handle? The best way to find out is to head to one of the three shows being staged on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That way you can see for yourself whether the Swiss have really gone over the top.

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