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30th September 2022

AO Arena is holding a procession

Cirque du Soleil returns to Manchester – bringing their classic show Corteo to AO Arena for the first time ever
AO Arena is holding a procession
Photo: Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque du Soleil (the world’s premiere circus company) is back – and so is Corteo!

This unique production, directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, first premiered in Montreal, under the Big Top, in April 2005. Since then, and including its transformation into an arena show in 2018, the show has amazed audiences of over 9 million people, in 20 countries, on 4 continents.

Corteo is the Italian word for cortège: a solemn procession, especially for a funeral. However, this show is anything but solemn – whilst death is tragic, it chooses to celebrate life! It characterises itself as “a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown.”

The show brings together the passion of the actor and 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. Juxtaposing the large with the small, the ridiculous with the tragic, and the magic of perfection with the charm of imperfection, the show highlights the strength and fragility of the clown, as well as his wisdom and kindness, to illustrate the portion of humanity that is within each of us. The music turns lyrical and playful, carrying Corteo through a timeless celebration in which illusion teases reality.

In a Cirque du Soleil first, the stage is central in the arena and divides the venue, with each half of the audience facing the other, giving a unique perspective, not only of the show, but also a performer’s eye view of the audience. An atmosphere like never seen before in Cirque du Soleil arena shows! Cirque du Soleil is constantly reinventing itself; the only Cirque show I have seen before is Paramour, on Broadway – their first-ever musical!

This production’s set curtains, inspired by the Eiffel Tower, and the central curtains, which were hand painted, give a grandiose feel to the stage. This sets the tone for the poetry of Corteo.

Mike Newquist, Senior Vice President, Touring Shows Division said: “We are absolutely thrilled that we are finally able to bring Corteo to the UK. For two years our performers have been waiting to experience the joy of the audience once again and excitingly with the unique staging of Corteo, for the first time the audience will also get to see and feel the show from the performer’s perspective. It will be an emotional and magical return.”

Cirque du Soleil: Corteo is at Manchester’s AO Arena from 5th-9th October and tours the UK until late October before returning to Europe and the USA. The world tour ends in mid-March 2023.

Whilst you wait for the show to arrive, why not check out our interview with band leader Roger Hewett, who has been with Corteo since the very beginning?

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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