Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, Latin vocalist Ricky Martin and Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne were among those on hand in Torino last night (Feb. 26) to participate in the Italian version of Winter Ol
Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, Latin vocalist Ricky Martin and Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne were among those on hand in Torino last night (Feb. 26) to participate in the Italian version of Winter Olympics closing ceremonies.
Bocelli had the honor of closing the lavish affair that marked the end of two weeks of international competition on snow and ice. As he performed, roughly 400 lamp-carrying women in white gowns drifted across the stage. Their lamps slowly went out and then, suddenly, the huge Olympic flame high above the stadium extinguished as well.
Martin's earlier performance was more jubilant, as athletes crowded the stage to dance as confetti and fireworks rained over Olympic Stadium.
Lavigne and Canadian opera star Ben Heppner were part of a traditional presentation by the next host of the Winter Games. The 2010 Winter Games will take place in Vancover.
British Columbia-born Heppner delivered a sonorous rendition of "O, Canada" as Canada's Maple Leaf flag was raised. In a relay, an Olympic flag was to be handed by Torino Mayor Sergio Chiamparino to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and then to Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan.
A quadriplegic since breaking his neck skiing at 19, Sullivan was unable to grasp the flag pole himself; instead, he fitted his motorized wheelchair with a cylinder to hold the flag and practiced some maneuvers that would make it flutter.
Clad in black, Lavigne sang "Who Knows," a song that appears on her 2005 Arista album "Under My Skin." Lavigne and Bocelli were among the artists performing in a nightly concert series that followed medal ceremonies in Torino's in Piazza Castello, a courtyard directly in front of the city's Royal Palace.
Overall, the closing ceremonies were a dreamlike, Fellini-style circus, with clowns and acrobats celebrating in the style of Italy's Carnevale, an annual festival celebrated across the country this weekend. More than 35,000 spectators were on hand to cheer the hundreds of athletes who paraded into the stadium and a ceremony cast that numbered roughly 2,350.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.