Marco Balich, director of the opening ceremony in Qatar: “It will be the World Cup of the first times”

“What are you going to offer as the opening ceremony of this first World Cup in an Arab-Muslim country?
It is difficult to define in a word the creative structure of an entire ceremony. Let’s say that the theme of hospitality, declined in its various forms, constitutes a common thread of the whole narrative that Qatar has chosen for itself.

What is the main theme of this ceremony? How was it integrated?
It will be the World Cup of “first times”: the first time it will be played in winter, the first time it will be played in a Middle Eastern country and it will be the first time that we will see three women referees in the field. And it will also be the first time that we will witness a real opening ceremony in which many elements of Qatari culture have been included. And to achieve the best result, we have involved the best professionals in their respective sectors: the rising star artistic director of the ceremonies in this part of the world Anghela Alo, the co-artistic director Akhmed Al Baker, world-class professionals with great professional successes in their background.

Did Emir Tamim Al-Thani make any special requests of you for the ceremony?
In this experience, the collaboration with the Qatari governance was immediately solid and edifying. As I said previously, for example, we worked in close synergy with the Qatari Ahmed Al Baker, co-artistic director and with Katara Studios who edited the music. The Balich Wonder Studio has acquired significant experience over the years and its ability to integrate with local excellence has always added value in terms of achieving results.

“I can’t spoil the surprise but there will certainly be attention given and answers to all the questions being debated at this time.”

Marco Balich, director of the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar

Can you give us some information on the content of the ceremony?
For the first time, FIFA has decided, together with the Organizing Committee, to open the World Cup with a real ceremony. 30 minutes of show that will welcome spectators from all over the world by presenting the image that Qatar wants to give of itself. It will not be a “Superbowl Half-Time” where everything is done so that the pinnacle of the great guest or the great performer is reached: the Opening Ceremony of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is designed so that all its moments have equal importance and blend perfectly.

It is said that the opening ceremony on Sunday will be closer to those of the Olympic Games than a World Cup…
In some ways, it is exactly like that. Balich Wonder Studio draws its origins and know-how from the Olympic and Paralympic world and is also watching with great interest Paris 2024 which, today already, presents itself to the world as an innovative Olympic and Paralympic edition. In Qatar, our desire was immediately to put our know-how at the service of one of the biggest events in the world. I can’t spoil the surprise but there will certainly be attention given and answers to all the questions being debated at the moment.

In your show will you address the major human rights issues that have accompanied Qatar’s candidacy since its award? We deal with major events and – in particular – ceremonies and we do not deal with politics. Personally, however, I think the message Qatar wishes to convey to the world will be very clear: to be a welcoming hub that, while respecting its origins and traditions, embraces the whole world and its differences.

You will also officiate for the closing ceremony. What will be the message?
It will be a completely new and different show, full of twists, music and colors. But we are fully aware that the global audience will be focused on the final more than the spectacle. »

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