Opening ceremonies to include Sarah McLachlan

Tonight’s Olympic opening ceremonies will be spectacular and very Canadian, say observers who witnessed the dress rehearsal Monday night.

A piano-playing Sarah McLachlan will have a starring role. But aboriginal performances will dominate the night.

“They’re fantastic – I would say half of it is aboriginal,” said one spectator. “There are fantastic costumes and dancing.”

Aerial acrobatics, some including skiers or snowboarders, will add to the wow factor.

“It’s almost a Cirque du Soleil feel to some of it.”

Audience members will be part of the performance, using torches at certain times.

A large centre installation will be able to transform into several different configurations, at times depicting oceans, forest and mountain vistas.

The stadium’s interior will be ringed with flags and lights, projecting colours onto the floor.

Other special touches include falling snow and maple leaves to reflect changing seasons.

Not all the performers were there in person – there were some lip-synching stand-ins, including a performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Another observers said Montreal songstress Nikki Yanofsky sang the opening anthem.

The ceremonies will begin with the lengthy arrival of athletes from every competing country – with Team Canada entering the stadium last.

The lighting of the Olympic cauldron wasn’t part of the dress rehearsal – secrets such as how it’s lit and other surprises are being withheld for the actual night.

All will be revealed to the world starting at 6 p.m.

Those who went to the dress rehearsal waited more than an hour to clear security, even though B.C. Place was only half full.