Bring home the magic, artistry and phenomenal acrobatics of Corteo, the latest Cirque du Soleil show, captured in hi definition! Corteo, which means "cortege" in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with 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, by turns lyrical and playful, carries Corteo through a timeless celebration in which illusion teases reality.
Fans of the fantastic Cirque du Soleil know that a DVD of a performance can only approximate the sensory experience of being there, but Corteo nonetheless will hold fans spellbound. The loose thread of theme is of a clown who dreams he's dead, and is at his own funeral--so Fellini-esque processionals of angels, jesters, animals, musicians, cannibals, and other-worldly sprites seem perfectly appropriate. The most breathtaking segments include, as always, the sheer athletic prowess and fearlessness of the acrobats and gymnasts. One early scene shows fairies literally swinging from giant chandeliers--then tossing them about and gyrating within them so that at any minute they seem likely to spin into the audience, Phantom of the Opera-style. Other performers take simple hoops and turn them into Olympic-level endurance sport-equipment, by spinning inside, outside, around, and on top of them. Another highlight includes a dream sequence of every kid's fantasy: jumping on a bed that somehow magically becomes a trampoline--and the jumping "kids" incorporate spins, dives, even leaping across the stage onto the other bed and back. There's wily Cirque humor, too: one funereal procession includes four pairs of empty shoes, walking perfectly believably in synch behind shoes occupied by human mourners. The extras are, if anything, even more gripping, including Through the Curtain, a making-of documentary that includes interviews with first-time Cirque director Daniele Finza-Pasca, and some of the early choreography and practice sessions while routines are crafted and honed. Advice the director gives to one of the hoop gymnasts: "Talk to the ring... hold it like you would the horns of a bull!" And let the magic begin. --A.T. Hurley