Sochi: The Winter Olympics in Sochi officially got under way yesterday with a lavish opening ceremony designed as a depiction of the history of Russia as seen through the dreams of a young girl — although much of the focus was on the pre-show performance of controversial pop act t.A.T.u.

Fireworks illuminate the Fisht Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics yesterday. Pic/Getty Images.

The duo, Lena Katina and Julia Volkova, sang a Russian version of their hit single “Not Gonna Get Us”, holding hands on the stage and surrounded by Games volunteers. The single, which reached number seven in the UK charts in 2003, lyrically depicted the pair as teenage runaways-in-love.

t.A.T.u.’s image appears to directly contradict Russia’s hard-line laws on “non-traditional” sexuality, which are widely seen as an attack on gay rights.

The ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium signalled the official start of the Games in the south-west coastal resort, which have cost Russia £30billion to stage. Organisers labelled yesterday night’s opening ceremony, which focuses on both the past and future of Russia and has a young girl named Lubov — meaning Love — in the central role, as “the most complex and ambitious technical show ever attempted in Olympic history”.

Entitled Dreams of Russia, it started with the Russian alphabet being shown on screens around the stadium, and will also incorporate historical figures, mythological images and Russian dance. Former world heavyweight champion boxer Nikolai Valuev makes an appearance as a character in one of the segments.

The ceremony then finishes with the traditional lighting of the Olympic Flame. Sochi 2014 organisers said 66 leaders including heads of state and organisations were in attendance.