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Fifteen years have passed since the doors of Operación Triunfo’s academy opened in October 2001. The show, which was used to select Spain’s Eurovision contestant for several years, was a major success in Spain. In fact, the first edition of the show remains one of the most-watched programs in the country, ever. Best of all it had the country falling in love with Eurovision again, helping the first winner Rosa Lopez take her career to another level.

The popularity of the show helped the Eurovision Song Contest 2002 become the most-watched show of all-time in Spain at the time, though it has since been eclipsed by the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, which Spain won. That was HUGE. And Operación Triunfo’s popularity remains the leading explanation for Eurovision’s coup in Spain.

Now RTVE has smashed the TV ratings again with a documentary that reunited the 16 contestants fifteen years later. More than 5 million viewers watched the show on Sunday, which, of course, finished with Rosa and her mates singing her ESC track “Europe’s Living a Celebration.”

Yes, Rosa’s backing singers — David Bisbal, David Bustamante, Chenoa, Gisela and Geno — joined her for the reprise, though they found it a bit difficult to remember the choreography. They also revealed some of the details on what happened that night in Tallinn.

Bustamante recounted that there was wine, ham and cheese on the Spanish table in the Green Room, and that they really let themselves go.

Bisbal said: “Thank God we didn’t win, because if we had had to perform again, we would have fallen to the floor on the first step!” Just watching that would have been a victory in itself!

Rosa went on to explain why she chose her five backing vocalists, saying diplomatically that she would have liked to have all 15 of the other contestants with her on stage.

“With all my innocence, I cried at every meeting to make it possible [to have all of them on stage], but only six people were allowed,” the Andalusian singer said. “If it already took them a while to master a turn with five people, imagine if they had been 15!”

The documentary was part of OT. El reencuentro — a three-part series which will culminate with a huge concert in Barcelona in October 31.

Next week there will be another chapter in which some other OT contestants share their stories with us.

The fact that Sunday’s premiere focused on Eurovision and Rosa, who was popularly known as ‘Rosa of Spain’ back then, shows just what an impact OT had on Eurovision and vice-versa.

Rosa and her journey during Operación Triunfo

The singer recollected her story, which touched Spaniards’ hearts back in 2001.

Rosa came from a little town in Granada and was extremely insecure about her weight.

During the talent show, she showed off her striking weight loss which earned her the sympathy of the public.

Momentum built and built and her competitors could feel it. As Chenoa said: “It had to be Rosa. There was no doubt about it.”

Chenoa, Rosa and Gisela – “It’s raining men”

Rosa gave several memorable performances, such as her rendition of “It’s raining men” with Chenoa and Gisela, and her magical ballad “Ausencia”.

She’s gone on to record six albums and remains one of Spain’s most appreciated artists.

Rosa – “Ausencia”

Rosa was one of the main characters in the documentary, and we were surprised not to see more of Gisela — who represented Andorra in 2008. Will she be in the spotlight more next week? We’ll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, did you enjoy Operación Triunfo’s trip down memory lane? Are you looking forward to the concert on October 31? Share your feelings below!

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HarpyDarper
HarpyDarper
4 years ago

I know the show was used for the next two years (and gave good results), but if they show was so big, how come they didn’t use it in 2005 and onwards? Had the public lost interest?

esc1234
esc1234
4 years ago

@james

Kalomira was the winner of fame story 2, the greek version of star academy

AntiCrisisBoy
AntiCrisisBoy
4 years ago

Beth, Ramón, Edurne and Soraya were alumni of Operacion Triunfo as well, @James

mad-professor
mad-professor
4 years ago

@James
James Fox, who competed in Fame Academy, represented the UK in 2004.

James
James
4 years ago

Besides Operacion Triunfo, has there also been other Star Academy alumni who took part in Eurovision as well?

EUROFAN MEXICO
4 years ago

MEMORABLE TIMES, HERE IN MEXICO ENJOY TO MUCH TO SEE IT IN 2001. FOR THAT REASON I MUST KNOW EUROVISION . I MUST TO HAVE A PARTY OF SWEETS XV YEARS TO.

MarioMario
MarioMario
4 years ago

Beautiful first documentary. Very meaningful for Spanish and Latin American fans like me.