Daniel Finzi Pasca Melds Italian Passion & Amazing Acrobats
by Barry David Horwitz
Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil brings a new personal and affectionate circus style to San Francisco, after three years.
In “Corteo,” director Daniel Finzi Pasca has assembled acrobats, gymnasts, and dancers from all over the world to tell the story of a clown who ascends to heaven. Their arts come from the fantasy life of Italian clown Mauro Mozzani, as he muses over his own wild funeral procession.
As bold Mauro confides his memories in Italian and English, he evokes reveries from his childhood. Two giant beds become fantasy trampolines for energetic acrobats. His dreams fill the huge stage with Renaissance Italian angels who magically float in to welcome him to heaven.
Cirque’s clowning touches the heart and the head—with graceful contortions and flying bodies. They embody the wondrous rainbow of human physicality.
The acrobats perform on the impressive trampoline-beds, defying gravity and reason. The fantastic funeral procession (corteo, cortege) builds on childhood, love, and his Fellini-esque fantasies. This nostalgic show is laced with wonders, dreams, and a touch of melancholy.
From the clown’s former girlfriends swinging on gorgeous crystal chandeliers to the elegant little woman in costume dangling from three enormous white helium balloons, Mauro offers a comical life-affirming vision.
The little woman, a tiny person, floats out over the audience, which sits on both sides of the arena. We can touch her feet, giving her a lift as she floats by–engaging the audience on both sides of the ornate painted stage curtains.
“Corteo” is ignited by beautiful performances, lavish music, and glowing historical costumes. Many composers contribute—Maria Bonzanigo, Jean-François Coté, Philippe Leduc, Michel A. Smith. Their music runs from klezmer to tango—befitting a spectacular show with performers from many countries.
On the nostalgic Balance Board—a giant teeter-totter—we see a gang of boys bouncing each other higher and higher into space. Each leap thrills us as they they dare to land back where they jumped. The whole arena holds its breath as the boys guide each other.
Roman Munin amazes by dancing on a free-standing silver ladder. He uses incredible balance and courage as he climbs his unsupported ladder for the moon. His beloved dangles just beyond his reach.
Five muscular men roll around in giant Cyr Wheels, their muscles glistening as they perform amazing feats. They become human frisbees—rolling together, rolling in unison, a dance of living rings. Perfectly choreographed, they trace amazing complex patterns in their hoops.
So many acts—the time flies by—a beautiful young couple in blue ascends the high ropes and dance their love affair high above in stunning, graceful motions. They fall from heaven to earth and fly up again, in perfectly synchronized moves with music and emotions. Their acrobatics form a delightful finale to the clown’s sweet memories.
So many wonders, such glittering costumes—as the clown rides a bike into eternity. It’s a stunning unification of sentiment and spectacle, of love and acrobatics—that keeps us focused breathlessly on each moment. Cirque appeals to all our senses with this exciting tribute to life’s transcendent beauty and limitless possibilities. Don’t miss “Corteo.”
“Corteo” –written and directed by Daniel Finzi Pasca, set design by Jean Rabasse, costumes by Dominque Lemieux, by Cirque du Soleil, at Chase Center, San Francisco. Info: CirqueduSoleil.com – August 23-27, 2023.
Banner photo: Angel & clown fly at Cirque du Soleil. Photos: Maja Prgomet