Alegría (Cirque du Soleil)
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Logo for Cirque du Soleil's Alegria
|Company||Cirque du Soleil|
|Show type||Touring arena show|
|Date of premiere||21 April 1994 (Montreal)|
|Director of creation||Gilles Ste-Croix|
|Costume designer||Dominique Lemieux|
|Set designer||Michel Crête|
|Lighting designer||Luc Lafortune|
|Sound designer||Guy Desrochers|
|Company founder and CEO||Guy Laliberté|
|Make-up designer||Nathalie Gagné|
|Preceded by||Mystère (1993)|
|Succeeded by||Quidam (1996)|
It was one of Cirque du Soleil's most popular touring shows. Since it premiered in April 1994, it has been performed over 5,000 times and seen by over 14 million spectators in more than 250 cities around the world. Alegría originated as a touring big top show. However, beginning with its 2009-2011 North American tour, the show was converted to an arena format, enabling it to visit cities that were previously inaccessible to the big top tour. Furthermore, Alegría took a short respite and was converted to a resident show at MGM's Beau Rivage casino from May 1999 to October 2000 before it continued touring again. On 29 December 2013, Alegría performed its final show at the Lotto Arena in Antwerp, Belgium.
Alegría takes its name from the Spanish word for "joy." Cirque du Soleil's literature describes the show as "an operatic introspection of the struggle for power and the invigorating energy of youth." Dominique Lemieux's costumes evince a baroque aesthetic of decadence and ornamentation, while René Dupéré's musical score features a unique blend of French, Spanish, African, and Mediterranean influences. The stage and props are characterized by gothic arches and harsh angular designs.
In 2019, Alegría has been remounted in a revamped version. "ALEGRIA in a new light", had its launch on 18 April 2019, in Montreal, Quebec.
Set and technical information
The stage of Alegría is topped by a giant dome and decorated with stylistic columns and balustrades. The dome gives the sense of an impressive, powerful structure, similar to how churches and government buildings utilize similar architectural constructs. The stage has spiral ramps on opposing sides which lead down, symbolizing the unknown. The floor of the stage has the head of a salamander, used for the four elements in which it lives. The 17th-century-ballroom stylistic lighting design reflects a nostalgic atmosphere. Finally, an autumnal color palette creates the luminous obscurity of the show.
The characters in Alegría comprise people of two separate generations: the New Order and the Old Order.
- Fleur: An unpredictable and dangerous madman who believes he is king. He is the guide to the world of Alegría.
- Nostalgic Old Birds: The Nostalgic Old Birds have lived in the palace for as long as it has existed. They are empty-shelled courtiers who admire their reflections in mirrorless frames. They include Gracieuse, Blanche, Valentin, Wilfrid, Georges-Etienne and more.
- Fire Bird: He appears for a brief dance before fire knife act and is present in the background while the fire knife dancer is performing.
- Tamir and Little Tamir: Appears when needed, only to disappear once he has fulfilled his mission.
- The Musicians: They provide the show's live music, dressed entirely in white. In the first run of the show, they were sometimes referred to as Les Hiboux ("the Owls").
- Nymphs: Exuberant characters who celebrate life.
- The Death Angel: A dark, dismal figure on stilts. He appears in the background during the Contortion act. In the first year of the show, this character was in fact a clown 'killed' during the Martyr Clown Act returning as a death character. When this clown act was removed from the show, the Death Angel character stayed during the Contortion sequence.
- Bronx: The young and tough, who are the next generation in Alegría. They perform on the power track and aerial high bar.
- The Angels: The guardians who are the youth of tomorrow. They perform on the Russian bars.
- White Singer: One of the singers. She is the storyteller who sings about everything she sees around her. She is often desired by the male characters of the show.
- Black Singer: One of the singers. She has a wickedness about her and is the White Singer's opposite. She always avoids approaching the front of the stage.
- Clowns: The show's social commentators. Performed by:
- Dimitri Bogatirev, Sergey Shashelev, Slava Polunin, Yuri Medvedev and Iryna Ivanitska (1994-1996)
- Leonid Leykin, Yuri Medvedev, Valery Keft and Michel Deschamps (1997-2000)
- Nikolai Terentiev, Vladimir Olshansky, Yuri Medvedev and Anton Valen (2001-2004)
- Marcos Casuo, Ben Johnson, Oleg Popkov, Anton Valen and Yuri Medvedev (2004-2009)
- Pablo Gomis Lopez, Pablo Bermejo Medina, Jesse Buck, Aaron de Casmaker and Maxim Fomitchev (2009-2013)
The acts of Alegría have had a bit of turnover, but continue to fit its theme: "A baroque ode to the energy, grace and power of youth."
- Opening: Fleur and the musicians walk among the audience while the show is being prepared.
- Prologue (Mirko): The white singer sings while characters and acrobats run around the stage to welcome the audience to the world of Alegría.
- Synchronized trapeze: Two acrobats perform tricks on two separate trapezes.
- Horse: A clown and a horse have comical problems.
- Power track: A group of acrobats perform flips and twists on an X-shaped power track.
- Paper planes: The clowns play with paper airplanes.
- Hand balancing: An artist performs handbalancing on canes.
- Fire-knife dance: Two artists perform a dance using fire-knives.
- The Candle: A clown tries to mimic the fire-knife dancing act using a candle.
- Manipulation: An artist manipulates ribbons and hoops while performing contortion tricks. The original act featured only contortion and hoops.
- Snowstorm: A clown bids a melancholy goodbye to his coat. His subsequent journey through a frozen landscape ends in a dramatic blizzard.
- Le Bal: The white singer sings "Danze Vazoule" while passing through the audience, picking a person out and dancing with the audience member.
- Flying man: An artist bounces and flies high above the stage with bungee cords.
- The Bar: The clowns play with a Russian bar.
- Russian bars: A group of acrobats perform a Russian bar act. (Alexander Moiseev, Nikita Moiseev, Aleksei Poletaev,Alexander Kashlev, Zhan Iordanov, Mikalai Liubezny, Aliaksei Liubezny, Anatoli Baravikou, Aliaksei Buiniakou)
- Contortion: Two artists create graceful and lithe figures and movements with their extreme flexibility and balance. The original act featured only one contortionist.
- Interlude: Little Tamir comes and flies with a bird structure.
- Aerial high bar: A group of acrobats fly, twist and spin between the bars of a structure in the air above a large net. When they fly off the structure, the acrobats are caught by other acrobats on a swinging trapeze.
- Finale: The white singer sings "Alegría" while the cast of Alegría bids farewell to the audience.
Acts in rotation
- Cyr wheel: An artist spins and performs tricks in a Cyr wheel.
- Juggling: An artist juggles up to 6 balls.
- Tightwire: A performer balanced precariously on a wire, performing jumps and flips.
- Shoulder pole wire: In this original act, a young performer balanced a long pole on their shoulders with a tightwire platform on top. Atop this wire a younger performer flipped, turned and leapt.
- Strongman: This act was quite literally a very strong man; the performer would warp metal and lift the weight of multiple performers.
- Slackwire: A female artist balanced, rolled and even rode a unicycle atop a loose, swinging wire.
- Aerial cube: An artist performed on the ground and in the air with the spinning metal frame of a large cube.
- Aerial silk: Powerful yet delicate, the Flying Man performed a sensual aerial act suspended above the stage on long, vertical strips of fabric.
- Solo trapeze: An acrobat performed on a single trapeze.
- Fast track: Acrobats tumbled, flipped and spun in this fast-paced act.
- The Big Mess: One of the clowns accidentally popped a balloon, so he brought the other two clowns out to see if they could help out. The entire situation spiraled out of control as they started throwing paper, garbage bags, confetti, and gigantic balloons.
- Flowers: One of the clowns tried to court an audience member with a bouquet of flowers, but got interrupted by the other clowns. When his flowers were ruined he became sad, but the other clowns gave him flowers of their own, and they danced offstage.
- Birds on a wire: Two of the clowns pretended to be birds perched on a long wire in this comedic tale about friendship and folly.
- Martyr: One of the original clown acts at the beginning of the show. A clown died comically, pierced by a myriad of arrows.
- Balloon: The clowns were concerned with the struggles between two individuals.
- Rain: A lonely clown made his way through the rain to find the sun.
- Plane: One of the clowns did tricks with a toy airplane on a string attached to his hair.
- Running Man: Two of the clowns were attacked by a strange running man.
- Terror: One of the clowns got scared of the audience and brought an audience member on stage for protection.
- The Shadow: Two of the clowns had a strange encounter with one another.
- Noose: One of the clowns found a strap left onstage from the aerial straps act and called in the other two clowns, who entered carrying a rope. The first clown carefully directed them to avoid the strap. It was discovered that the rope the two clowns were carrying was in fact a noose, at which point they tried to put the noose around their necks, but were quickly stopped by the first clown.
Alegría's costumes have a dichotomy relating to the Old Order and the New Order. The Old Order has costumes which are reminiscent of New York's Gilded Age as they are finely decorated with feathers, lace, and other adornments. The New Order, on the other hand, representing the youth of tomorrow, have the same rich hues as the old order, while the fabrics used are lighter and softer, helping to emphasize the agility of youth. Over 400 costume pieces comprise the Alegría wardrobe set, including shoes, wigs, hats, etc. As an example of how long it takes to create each custom outfit, over 200 hours are needed to create one Old Bird costume.
- Fleur: Part of the Old Order, Fleur is easily recognizable in his red velvet jacket and jeweled vest.
- Singer in White: Part of the Old Order, the Singer in White has a bejeweled crinoline skirt. She also is adorned with a pearl necklace and matching bracelets with rings attached.
The music of Alegría was released as a studio album on 27 September 1994. Produced by Robbi Finkel, it remains Cirque du Soleil's best-selling album to date, having sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide. Robbi Finkel and René Dupéré were nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Arranger at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards. The album was also nominated for several Félix Awards in 1995, winning two of the latter: 'Producer of the Year' for Robbi Finkel and René Dupéré, and 'Sound Mixer of the Year' for Rob Heaney. Alegría was also ranked on the Billboard World Music Chart for 65 weeks.
The album's lead vocals are provided by opera-trained, French-Canadian singer Francesca Gagnon. Gagnon also features as 'The White Singer' (principal vocalist) in the Alegría DVD, with fellow French-Canadian Ève Montpetit supporting as 'The Black Singer'.
Several versions of the soundtrack have been available since its original release. In 2002, the soundtrack was re-released by Cirque du Soleil Musique Inc., with an additional two tracks titled 'Cerceaux' and 'Malioumba' (both featuring vocals by Francesca Gagnon) recorded from live shows during Alegría’s 2001 season in Sydney. In 1995, a limited employee edition, Alegría - Live at Fairfax, was created for the artists and crew of the production. This special edition features the entire score on CD and is considered a collector's item.
The tracks for the original 1994 release, including the two extended tracks from 2002 are listed below and alongside are the acts during which they are played.
- Alegría (Finale)
- Vai Vedrai
- (Synchronized trapeze)
- (Trapeze Duplex) (2007-2010)
- Shoulder-Pole Wire (1994-1995)
- Tightrope (1996, 2004)
- Juggling (2002 - 2004, 2006 - 2013)
- Slackwire (2004 - 2005)
- Querer (Interlude to Aerial high bar)
- Irna (Power track)
- Taruka (Contortion)
- Jeux d'enfants (Power track setup)
- Mirko (Opening)
- Icare (Aerial high bar)
- Aerial Cube (1994 - 1995, 1997 - 1999, 2004 - 2008)
- Flying Man (1996 , 2003 - 2004)
- Valsapena (Power track)
- Nocturne (Snowstorm)
- Cerceaux (Manipulation)
- Malioumba (Flying man) (2001-2013)
- Milonga (Introduction to musicians)
- Ouverture (Pre-Opening sequence)
- Prelude to Vai Vedrai (Pre-Trapeze act sequence)
- Fleurs (Clown act) (1997-2000, 2002-2004)
- Le Feu (Fire-knife dance)
- Homme Fort (Strong man) (1994-1999, 2001-2004)
- Danze Vazoule (Le bal)
- Ombre (Clown act) (1994-2004)
- Force 4/Balafon (Russian bars)
- La Perche 1 (Shoulder-pole wire) (1994-1995)
- La Perche 2 (Shoulder-pole wire out sequence) (1994-1995)
- Prelude to Le Cube (Pre-Aerial Cube act sequence) (1994-1995, 1997-1999, 2004-2007)
- Prelude to Contortion (Pre-Contortion Cube act sequence)
- Grands Volants Prelude (Pre-High Bar act sequence)
- Sisyphe (Handbalancing) (1995-2013)
- Rinalto Vera (Cyr wheel)
- Bardak (Clown act and Juggling) (1994-1996, 2005)
- Oiseaux sur la corde (Clown act) (1994-2004)
- Concierto de Aranjuez (Clown act) (1994-1996)
Alegría, the Film
In 1999, Alegría was adapted into a film of the same name, written by Rudy Barichello and directed by Franco Dragone. The cast included actors such as Frank Langella, Mako, Julie Cox, René Bazinet and a guest appearance from Whoopi Goldberg, as well as several performers and musicians from the touring production (many appeared in both this film and the DVD of the touring production). The film employs a conventionally structured narrative, in contrast to the abstract allegory of the live show. It tells the story of a boy named Momo who wants to save the children from their imprisonment in the dark factory of a cruel man named Marcello. Momo's only friend, a quirky clown named Frac, aids him, while also falling in love with a circus singer named Giulietta passing through town. The children turn against Marcello (who is also known as the Dragon) by throwing rocks at him. The pair soon find their destinies increasingly entwined with that of the circus.
The songs "Let Love Live", "Child in His Eyes", "Love Leaves Someone Behind" and "Mountain of Clothes" are sung by Irène Marc. The film also features Elena Lev manipulating hula hoops and Alexander Dobrynin performing on the bungee cords and the aerial cube.
Cirque du Soleil produced a separate DVD of the touring stage show Alegría. It was filmed in July 2001 in front of live audiences in Sydney, Australia. This production was directed and produced by Nick Morris. He used 14 cameras and special filming techniques to transport the viewer to the center of the performance.
Alegría's tour history is quite extensive as it premiered in 1994. Since it began it has toured under the Grand Chapiteau as well as in sporting arenas. Additionally during 1999 and 2000 it played as a resident show in Biloxi's Beau Rivage. After 19 years of touring, Alegria performed for the last time in Antwerp, BE on 29 December 2013.
In commemoration of the show's 25th anniversary, a new show called Alegría: In a New Light was created, in its original Big Top format to pay tribute to the original show. The tour began on 18 April 2019 in Montreal. It will feature revamped numbers, characters, costumes, music and makeup.
- "Alegría Acts". Cirque Tribune. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
- Clément, Ronald (2009). Cirque du Soleil 25 Years of Costumes (in Chinese, French, and Japanese). Canada: Dépôt légal, Bibliothèque et Archives Canada. pp. 34–39. ISBN 978-2-9803493-4-8.
- RobbiFinkel. "Robbi Finkel's website". Retrieved 19 January 2008.
- "Music - Alegría". Cirque Tribune. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
- Cirque Tribune Alegría Schedule