Editor's Note: We asked for Lisa to provide us a review of Cirque de Soleil's Corteo after attending the show on July 3rd. Regular 'Relaxer' content will return next week. Thank you, Lisa, for this rave review!
The “Cirque” came to town last week and it definitely did not disappoint! Cirque du Soleil’s latest arena production “Corteo” made a brief stop in Baltimore July 3 – 7 at the Royal Farms Arena as part of its North American tour.
After having seen at least a dozen Cirque du Soleil shows throughout the years, I can honestly say that they never get old with the intricately designed costumes and sets, beautiful live music, incredible performers and always a surprise or two.
Corteo, which means cortege in Italian, is a festive parade imagined by Mauro the Dreamer Clown, played expertly by Lolo Fernandez from Spain. The premise of the show is that Mauro pictures his own funeral taking place in a carnival-like atmosphere, watched over by angels who are suspended from the ceiling high in the air.
Fernandez showed a wide range of emotions as Mauro, from joy to sadness to confusion. He had a good bit of audience interaction, which is typical for the main characters in Cirque shows. And he is quite the comedian, even at his own funeral. Another classic character was Victorino Lujan, The Giant Clown, who is 6’9” in real life. His big persona was a big part of the show, but the mostly good-natured giant always seemed to foiled.
The rest of the talented cast of Corteo, which first premiered in Montreal under the Big Top in April 2005, includes 51 acrobats, musicians, singers and actors from all around the world. The cast represents more than 18 nationalities. Performers are from Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, United Kingdom, Ukraine, United States and Uzbekistan.
Corteo’s set curtains, inspired by the Eiffel Tower, and the central curtains, which were hand painted, give a grandiose feel to the show. The stage was cut in half – a different concept for Cirque – with both sides of the arena seeing a mirrored show.
Costume Designer Dominique Lemieux created more than 260 costumes for Corteo’s cast, For the angels alone, she used more than a hundred different fabrics and trims, concentrating on a subtle color palette that includes blues, pinks, fuchsia and gold with appliqued spangles and jewels.
There are numerous angel characters in Corteo, including the standout little angel played by Botakoz Bayatanova from Uzbekistan, the archangels and the grand angels. On average, each angel dress required 25 meters of fabric, which translates to over 500 meters of material (or the approximate length of five football fields) appearing on stage each night.
All of the acts in Corteo were a hit with the audience, and here are some highlights:
This was probably my favorite act of the night and it also gave a chance for the audience to interact with the performers and be a part of the show. The little Clowness, played by Anita Szentes from Hungary who is merely 3’6”, showed pure joy and delight as she flew through the air – literally – while hanging from a bouquet of large helium balloons. As Fernandez heaved her into the audience, the crowd’s job was to push on her feet so that she could eventually make her way back to the stage. And he was sure to include both sides of the stage in the act.
Roman Munin from Russia amazed the audience with his balance and finesse as he performed on various ladders, trying to reach the angel who watched him from above. It was a nerve-wracking performance as he climbed to the top of the ladder and back over and down again while balancing it. And just when you think how great he was, he adds an even higher ladder to the mix.
Three women, the Dreamer Clowns former loves, come together to perform aerial acrobatics on three giant chandeliers that spin above Mauros bed. Sante D’Amours Fortunato from Canada, Inna Teslenko from Ukraine, and Aurelle Deroux-Dauphin from France did a great job wowing the crowd.
Accompanied by the sound of a guitar and vocals, Stephanie Ortega from France performed contortion-like shapes while flying on a suspended pole. This takes incredible strength and coordination, and it’s way more than just what the U.S. might call “pole dancing.”
Sante D’Amours Fortunato, who also performed on the chandeliers, used her entire body and all her limbs to spin and twirl a multitude of hula hoops from various positions.
Surrounded by two groups of artists lending rhythm to the act with their voices and percussion work, two acrobats redefined the teeterboard technique in an act where speed is rivaled only by complexity. Oleg Sudakov from Russia, Rafael Fatkhelyanov from Kazakhstan, Anton Aleksev from Russia and Harry McKoy from Australia battled it out on the teeter-totters.
Crystal Glasses and Tibetan Bowls
Mauro and The Giant Clown perform a melody on crystal glasses while the Loyal Whistler, played by Geert Chatrou from The Netherlands, showed his whistling talents to the audience, definitely overshadowing the rest of the music.
Eight characters, including Mauro, the little Clowness, the Giant Clown and the Little Clown, played by Grigor Pahlevanyan from Armenia, piled into a tiny theater to present a wild and zany version of “Romeo and Juliet,” which turns into more comedy than tragedy.
Also worthy to note was the live band, which was led by Roger Hewett from the United Kingdom and dressed in full clown attire. Live music is always one of the greatest parts of a Cirque show, and Corteo’s band was no exception.
Corteo will be at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. August 28 - September 1.
For more information about Cirque du Soleil's Corteo and to purchase tickets, please go to https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/corteo.