Give it a try if… Your heart has not forgotten the language of angels.
Steer clear if… You just do not see yourself dreaming with the lights on.
What more can be said about Cirque du Soleil? They have redefined a whole form of entertainment; they have been enjoying huge global success; their work is consistently praised in artistic reviews and increasingly analyzed in countless business books. Well, I can say this: they keep making great art, and they’ve brought to Barcelona yet another show not to be missed.
Save the Best for First
Premiered in 2005, “Corteo” opens boldly with its possibly best scene: two women exploring space and gravity while hanging on two huge chandeliers. Once the stakes are set in the Grand Chapiteau, the company reminds us – as we see a tightrope walker casually cross the stage with his head down – that tonight, unconventional is the word. Same goes for the whole premise of the show, by the way: a clown attending his own funeral.
Till Death Do Us Charm
Not the most cheerful of backdrops, one might argue – nor the most suited for a frequently children-packed audience. Yet the sensitivity such a delicate subject is dealt with turns this into one of Cirque du Soleil’s most compelling, poetic, and sophisticated shows. Some of the acrobatics might be (just slightly!) weaker than, say, a breathtaking triumph like “Saltimbanco”; but the aesthetics is simply unbelievable, the music is more convincing than their usual new-agey crowdpleasers, and the story itself, this time, seems more than just an excuse. Even the European references, cleverly scattered all over the place, feel so genuine and well-researched that it is hard to believe this ensemble has Canadian roots. In short, this is performing art at its best; you witness it and think, can there be anything more spectacular than this?
All of this has certain costs, of course, which are reflected in what I consider Cirque du Soleil’s only flaw: they have turned into such a huge machine (complete with überkitsch permanent theatres in Las Vegas) that they are forced to milk the audience anyway they can. Picture me asking for some water at the bar and being forced to pay 6 euros for a (nice) stainless steel reusable bottle I did not really need… filled with tap water. Even worse, ticket price points are so high that a whole segment of the world’s population is meanly excluded from such an unforgettable experience.
The whole money-making side of it has simply gotten over the top now, and I would advise my heroes to reverse the trend before it is too late. Either cut the costs, or give up some profits, or both. I hope they are learning a lesson here in Barcelona: pre-sales were so bleak that they are being forced to rely on discount channels to fill the seats. The upside – and the sSSHtip of this post – is that if you go once, at least for the moment, you can buy tickets for any other evening (including for friends, but only on the spot, so be prepared) at 50% discount. The milking mania – and the atrocious decision, for such a children’s favourite, to dedicate a whole upcoming show to Michael “Let Me Tuck You to Bed” Jackson – makes a standing ovation out of place; but as long as they keep churning out great shows, they can definitely count me among their audience.
UPS Score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 9+/10 + wow!