Cirque du Soleil Breathes Inspired Life into ‘Corteo’ for Arenas

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Ethereal, graceful and beautiful – those were my initial impressions of Cirque du Soleil’s latest arena tour, “Corteo,” which is actually a 2015 show they have resurrected and reformatted.

Not ever having seen them live before, I was struck by both their artistry and their athleticism in a carnival atmosphere. Super-fit acrobats inside rings, on the bars, tumbling on bed trampolines and all sorts of physical feats were quite entertaining to watch.

But the troupe’s palpable joy in performing, and how accomplished they were at creating magic shined through.

In one stunning segment, the tiny clowness floated through the air of Chaifetz Arena holding four gigantic helium balloons – the largest I had ever seen. She involved the audience in propelling her through the air, her sweet little giggle infectious.

All the elements to create a crowd-pleasing experience came together – lush music, pulsating drum rhythms, energetic flights of fancy – three women hanging from chandeliers to start it off! – and funny characters.

The tight technical design enhanced the show and created an intimate setting in the arena.

The set design looked more like the opulent Parisian opera house in “The Phantom of the Opera” and the accents created a 19th century European feel. The lighting design enhance the elegant feel of the show, and the costumes were both beautiful and functional period-appropriate.

Corteo means “cortege” in Italian, a procession, and this show is a festive parade imagined by a clown, Mauro, who has passed. His spirit was still with us, so the dream-like fantasy was meant to capture the mysterious space between heaven and earth.

The funeral cortege celebrates with exuberance, rather than mourn. He wanted to show that he had a life well-lived.

While I didn’t necessarily follow the story literally, its inspired earthly and fantasy segments were merry moments to enjoy for their exquisite beauty and talented detour into pure imagination.

I would recommend this for older children, as wee ones, used to bombastic action, may not be familiar with such old-fashioned storytelling and can get squirmy and bored easily.

Cirque du Soleil, in all endeavors, is indeed a work of art.

Cirque du Soleil presents “Corteo” at the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis April 24-28. For more information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.

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