Latest Review – CORTEO [Cirque du Soleil] [AO Arena, Manchester]


AO Arena, Manchester

Until Sunday 9th October 2022

Having broken records all around the world, Corteo, Cirque du Soleil’s enchanting and spectacular arena production, which first premiered in Montreal back in 2005, now arrives in Manchester for the very first time, and with great anticipation.

Corteo, which translates from the Italian as cortege or procession, is a surreal, Fellini-inspired production centred around Mauro, a recently deceased clown, who watches his own funeral unfolding around him in a bizarre, carnivalesque, parade atmosphere, surrounded by a dazzling, theatrical troupe of clowns, acrobats, floating angels and performers.

As you might expect from a Cirque du Soleil arena show, the production values are exceptional, with clever staging, gorgeous designs and a magnificent score, originally composed by Philippe Leduc and Maria Bonzanigo, and with additional, re-worked compositions by Jean-François Côté and Michel A. Smith.

Incorporating aspects of Commedia dell’arte and surrealism, Corteo is a rich and uplifting production that leaves its audience beaming with childlike amazement at what is unfolding in front of them, and there are most definitely things you won’t have seen done in an arena before, or certainly not on this scale! What’s more it has a much stronger narrative than seen in other Cirque shows which really helps draw the audience in to Mauro’s story.

The ensemble and featured performers are extraordinary throughout, accompanied by strong vocalists and a flawless live band, dressed as Pierrots.

The pacing is excellent throughout and there is a good variety of acts featured. The only slight weak link is the ending, which all feels little flat and anticlimactic. A production like this is screaming out for a big, show-stopping grand finale to really top thing off, and unfortunately that is missing.

Corteo was first presented in the round under a huge, custom-designed big top, but has since been reimagined for arena presentation. The re-worked staging transforms the AO Arena into a huge proscenium arch theatre space, with the audience visible on both sides. The whole thing works brilliantly and it is fascinating to see the arena space used in such a way.

If you’ve never seen a Cirque du Soleil live before, Corteo is a great introduction. It’s an enchanting, family friendly production, filled with arresting visuals and jaw dropping set pieces, making it a perfect entry show for those new to the company.

Running Time: 2 hours (approx.), including one 20-minute interval.

Final Performance at the AO Arena, Manchester: 9th October 2022.

For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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