Monday, October 16, 2006

Corteo – A Magical Evening at Cirque de Soleil

This past weekend, a friend introduced me to the wonders of Cirque de Soleil. I had been hearing about their shows for many years, but this was first time I was able to take advantage of the chance to see them in Boston. All I can say is “Wow!” It was a magical evening. This particular show, one of six that are currently touring, is “Corteo,” a dream-like depiction of a clown envisioning his own funeral cortege. Here is the way the Cirque de Soleil Website describes the concept of this show:

“Corteo, which means "cortege" in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth. The clown pictures his own funeral taking place in a carnival atmosphere, watched over by quietly caring angels.”

I grew up with the sights, sounds and smells of Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus. We would make an annual family pilgrimage to the old Boston Garden. I looked forward with wonder and anticipation to those annual trips to the circus. When my sons were young, we took them to see the circus several times, and I was amazed - watching now through the eyes of an adult - how seedy and tacky the whole production and enterprise seemed to be. The Big Apple Circus, which travels to Boston on an annual basis, made me aware of a more sophisticated approach to presenting traditional circus fare. My travels to Russia over the last 15 years exposed me to historic European residence circus companies. Moscow has two permanent circuses in residence, and I have enjoyed going to see them with my Russian friends.

Cirque de Soleil stands squarely on the shoulders of this rich European circus tradition, blending beautifully the wonder of the athleticism and dexterity of the tumblers and acrobats with the artistry of the composers, musicians, singers, and the gifted artists who design and create the costumes, sets and lighting. This is circus with style, with class and with panache! The show somehow manages even to incorporate a couple of midgets and a giant into the cast without seeming to pander, exploit or dehumanize them. They are presented without comment simply as artists of different sizes, not as freaks of nature. Many members of the troupe are from Russia and several of the Eastern and Central European countries where circus has been an important element of the country’s cultural heritage. The flags that fly above the Big Top pay silent homage to the diversity of nations from which the members of the troupe hail.

The individual acts are impressive, but in this case, the whole is clearly so much greater than the sum of its parts. It is a truism in the world of entertainment that you should leave the audience wanting more. When the last round of applause - offered by the audience as it rendered its standing ovation – had died out, I turned to my friend, Jason, and said: “I can’t wait to see another Cirque de Soleil show!”

Corteo next travels to the following cities: Washington, Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston. In addition, there are currently six Cirque de Soleil shows in residence in Las Vegas, and one in Orlando.

Enjoy it! I certainly did.


1 comment:

Jason said...

It warmed my heart to have been given the opportunity to expose you to something new in your life - especially something as wonderful as Cirque!