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Company Cirque du Soleil
Genre Contemporary circus
Show type Touring production
Date of premiere April 21, 2005 (Montreal)
Creative team
Director Daniele Finzi Pasca
Director of creation Line Tremblay
Set designer Jean Rabasse
Composers Philippe Leduc
Maria Bonzanigo
Additional composers Jean-François Côté
Roger Hewett
Costume designer Dominique Lemieux
Makeup designer Nathalie Gagné
Sound designer Jonathan Deans
Lighting designer Martin Labrecque
Dramaturgical analyst Dolores Heredia
Acting coaches Hugo Gargiulo
Antonio Vergamini
Acrobatic equipment Danny Zen
Other information
Preceded by (2004)
Succeeded by Delirium (2006)
Official website

Corteo /kɔrˈt./ is a Cirque du Soleil touring production that premiered in Montreal, Canada on April 21, 2005. As of May 24, 2005, Cirque du Soleil had broken its record of spectators for the première location in Montreal; more than 200,000 people had viewed the production, far outpacing the prior record of 180,000 tickets sold for Varekai during its première.[1]

Cortéo—an Italian word meaning "cortège," or procession—is a contemporary circus show about a clown who watches his own funeral taking place in a carnival-like atmosphere. It is partly inspired by The Grand Parade: Portrait of the Artist as Clown on display at the National Gallery of Canada.[2]

Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, founder of the Swiss clown troupe Teatro Sunil and director of several shows by Cirque Éloize, Cortéo is presented in the round under a large tent. The action takes place on a large circular stage consisting of concentric rotating rings. This allows one area of the stage to rotate while another remains stationary. At times during the performance, the stage is divided by a large curtain illustrated with a painting called the Cortéo Procession. There are entrances/exits at either side of the circular stage.[2]

Set and technical information[edit]

Cirque du Soleil divided the Grand Chapiteau in two by creating a stage that spans the diameter of the tent, thus allowing the audience to face one another as well as giving a performer's perspective to them. Built into the 104 feet (32 m) long stage are two turntables which have a diameter of 41 feet (12 m). Corteo's set has a special overhead transport mechanism, dubbed the "Patience", which has two rails which are fitted with four platform-like carts each. Each cart has a lifting capacity of 1,000 pounds (450 kg) and a top speed of 4 feet per second (1.2 m/s). At its highest point, it is 41 feet (12 m) above the stage.[3]

The curtains utilized in Corteo have been painted in watercolors and were inspired by a painting from 1885 by Adolphe Willette. The Roll Drop curtains are about 58 feet (18 m) in width and 40 feet (12 m) in height. The inner curtains were constructed in Canada and sent to France to be painted. Each of the four inner curtains took nearly two weeks to be individually painted.[3]

The design on the center stage is a labyrinth which exactly matches the proportions and size of the one on the floor in the aisle in Chartres Cathedral.[3]


The principal characters of Corteo are clowns, as is fitting for a clown's funeral, but 62 artists comprise the full troupe.[4][5]

  • The Dead Clown: The central character of Corteo, and the one being honored in this funeral procession.
  • The Clowness: The Clowness is an actress, a veritable grande dame of the stage, who somehow found herself a part of this nutty troupe. Her professionalism and her strength of character allow her to bear the foolishness of her partners, whom she never fails to charm.[6]
  • Giant Clown: Although only an amateur opera singer, the Giant Clown imagines himself to be a great artist of worldwide renown. Without doubt, it is with him that the Dead Clown is closest, almost like brothers.[6]
  • Little Clown: A diminutive clown who’s in love with the Clowness, the Little Clown is always ready to play tricks on his associates. Impish and lively, he is both an endearing companion and a force to be reckoned with.[6]
  • The Loyal Whistler: His origins come from the classic role of "Mr. Loyal", the ringmaster of a traditional circus.
  • The White Clown: For the White Clown, a Pierrot, appearances are what matters most. Like the Loyal Whistler, he is an authority figure … at least, he’d like to be. Of all the colourful characters, he admires only the stars and scorns the others. It is the White Clown who opens the door to the magic of the circus for the Dead Clown.[6]
  • Angels: Watch over the Dead Clown and guide him.


The acts in Corteo bring together the passion of acting with the grace and power of acrobatics.[7][8]

  • Chandeliers: An aerial act unlike any other, involving three large chandeliers and four aerialists who represent Mauro's past lovers
  • Bouncing beds: A group of artists mimic children in this comical trampoline act. The beds have a trampoline as a mattress for this act to work.
  • Cyr wheel: A group of performers spin and rotate while in a large metal ring.
  • Tightrope: A solo artist walks a tight wire barefoot or in ballet pointe shoes, the act also involves props such as hula hoops and a unicycle.
  • Acro Duo: A couple perform stunning acrobatic feats. The man throws the woman in the air as she somersaults, she lands and they are united again for the next trick.
  • Diablolos: Um artista faz peripercias usando seu Diabolo
  • Helium Dance: The clowness floats above the ground with aid at a large set of gigantic balloons and the dead clown.
  • Teeterboard: Three feuding artists send each other flying high in the air in this energetic act.
  • Paradise: A unique aerial act involving a trampoline safety net, and four aerial cradles. The performers throw one another from these cradles to a group on the next cradle.
  • Tibetan bowls: A large group play the soothing Tibetan bowls, they accompany the loyal whistlers whistling.
  • Duo adagio: On a rotating platform, two artists use strength and balance as they contort themselves to many beautiful figures.
  • Juggling: A quartet of performers toss clubs and rings to each other with a bullseye accuracy.
  • Ladder: An acrobat climbs up and down, even performs a handstand on top of a high free standing ladder.
  • Aerial straps: using sheer strength a duo perform with long cords attached to the ceiling as they swing around the stage.
  • Tournik: An original act that takes the traditional high bar apparatus, but creates a twist by fusing four high bars to make a cube.

Retired acts[edit]

  • Rhythmic gymnastics: A fiery act that involved two female and a male rhythmic gymnast, they used hoops, ribbons and balls in this act.
  • Solo Straps: A lone artist swung across the stage with a pair of long cords that she clung onto
  • Vocal Aerial Silk: A unique rotational act that was performed by Marie-Michelle Faber, she would perform an extravagant tissu act, while singing.


Corteo's costume designer, Dominique Lemieux, utilized "matériaux bruts et des matières nobles"[7] (French for "raw and luxury fabrics") to create the wardrobe for this Cirque du Soleil production in order to accentuate the artist's natural beauty. The finer details of the outfits were inspired by European styles between 1890 and 1930. The color palette chosen was soft in nature, including blue, pink, and fuchsia along with copper and gold hues. In order to create a worn-in, hand-me-down style of clothing, the costumes were airbrushed and dyed. Common fabrics throughout the wardrobe include silk, linen, and cotton, which are adorned with beaded lace, sequins, and gemstones.[7] In total, more than 900 fabrics were utilized to create the 184 costumes. If back-up and rotational costumes are to be taken into account, the total costume count grows to around 450 costumes with 284 rotations.[3] During each show day, 12 to 16 hours of ironing is necessitated in order to prepare the costumes.[5]

  • The performers in the Paradise act are clothed in silk georgette, crêpe de Chine, and satin.
  • The musicians have pleated ruffs along the neckline in addition to engageantes.
  • The White clown is dressed to represent classic commedia dell'arte characters. The fabric is gathered at both the hips and shoulders by cartridge pleats, and the bibs are covered in honeycomb stocking.


Corteo’s score was originally composed by Philippe Leduc and Maria Bonzanigo. Additional composers including Jean-François Côté and Michel A. Smith subsequently reworked several pieces. Show director Daniele Finzi Pasca contributed lyrics. Cirque du Soleil Musique released an album of music from Corteo on 23 September 2006 in Canada, and 7 October 2006 in the US. Corteo was one of the first Cirque du Soleil CDs to feature multiple composers.

The album features the contribution of 61 musicians and singers, a 16-piece choir and a 13-piece string section. Corteo’s lyrics are sung in Italian, French, and Spanish.[9]

The tracks from the CD are listed below and alongside are the acts during which they are played.

  1. Funerale (Opening pt. 1)
  2. Ritornare (Opening pt. 2)
  3. Rêve d'un pantin (Marionette)
  4. Les chevaux à bottes (Little horses)
  5. Nos dejó (Cortege)
  6. Klezmer Moment (Helium dance)
  7. Prendersi per mano (Aerial straps)
  8. Anneaux (Cyr wheels)
  9. El cielo sabrá (Tightwire)
  10. Fugue (Chandeliers)
  11. Volo volando (Chandeliers)
  12. Un tierno y dulce (Planche)
  13. Balade au bout d'une échelle (Freestanding ladder)
  14. Garda lassù (Planche)
  15. Triangle tango (Rhythmic gymnastics)
  16. Che finalone (Tournik)
Further information: Cirque du Soleil discography


Cirque released their film adaptation of Corteo on April 11, 2006.[10] It was filmed in Canada in 2005.[11] During the Creative Arts ceremony on September 8, 2007, it won the Emmy award for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Special. The following day, it also won a Gémeaux (Gemini Award) for Meilleur montage - humour, variétés, arts de la scène (best editing - humor, entertainment, performing arts).[12]


Since Corteo's première in Montreal in 2005, it has been seen by more than 5 million spectators. Corteo celebrated its 1000th show in January 2008 in San Diego; its 1500th show in June 2009 in Nagoya, Japan; its 2000th show in September 2010 in Kazan, Russia, and its 3500th show in March 2015 in Bogota, Colombia.

Corteo began (as with all Cirque shows) with its American tour (2005-2008) which was followed by its Japanese tour in 2009. The show did not go on to any other cities in Asia or Oceania, but instead skipped to a European tour (2010-2013) and then a South American tour (2013-present). The show was planned to close on 22nd November 2015 whilst in Mexico City. However, on June 15, it was revealed that the show would continue past the rumored closing date. Once Corteo does perform for the final time under the big top, it will close for good; as an arena tour is not possible with the current configuration of the stage and complex aerial system.

The following colorboxes indicate the region of each performance:
 EU   Europe  NA   North America  SA   South and Central America  AP   Asia/Pacific  OC   Oceania  AF   Africa

Grand Chapiteau tour[edit]

2005 schedule[edit]

 NA   Montreal, QC - From 21 Apr to 19 Jun 2005 (show première)
 NA   Quebec, QC - From 30 Jun to 24 Jul 2005
 NA   Toronto, ON - From 4 Aug to 11 Sep 2005
 NA   Minneapolis, MN - From 23 Sep to 23 Oct 2005
 NA   San Francisco, CA - From 11 Nov 2015 to 8 Jan 2006

2006 schedule[edit]

 NA   San Jose, CA - From 19 Jan to 5 Mar 2006
 NA   Phoenix, AZ - From 16 Mar to 9 Apr 2006
 NA   New York, NY - From 25 Apr to 2 Jul 2006
 NA   Chicago, IL - From 14 Jul to 27 Aug 2006
 NA   Boston, MA - From 8 Sep to 15 Oct 2006
 NA   Washington, DC - From 26 Oct to 26 Nov 2006
 NA   Atlanta, GA - From 15 Dec 2006 to 28 Jan 2007

2007 schedule[edit]

 NA   Dallas, TX - From 9 Feb to 11 Mar 2007
 NA   Houston, TX - From 22 Mar to 29 Apr 2007
 NA   Columbus, OH - From 11 May to 10 Jun 2007
 NA   Denver, CO - From 22 Jun to 5 Aug 2007
 NA   Los Angeles, CA - From 23 Aug to 28 Oct 2007
 NA   Costa Mesa, CA - From 8 Nov to 23 Dec 2007

2008 schedule[edit]

 NA   San Diego, CA - From 11 Jan to 17 Feb 2008
 NA   Portland, OR - From 4 Mar to 13 Apr 2008
 NA   Seattle, WA - From 24 Apr to 1 Jun 2008
 NA   Vancouver, BC - From 12 Jun to 20 Jul 2008
 NA   Calgary, AB - From 31 Jul to 7 Sep 2008
 NA   Ottawa, ON - From 24 Sep to 26 Oct 2008
 NA   Miami, FL - From 13 Nov to 28 Dec 2008

2009 schedule[edit]

 AP   Tokyo, JP - From 4 Feb to 5 May 2009
 AP   Nagoya, JP - From 21 May to 12 Jul 2009
 AP   Osaka, JP - From 29 Jul to 18 Oct 2009
 AP   Tokyo, JP - From 4 Nov to 24 Jan 2010

2010 schedule[edit]

 AP   Fukuoka, JP - From 11 Feb to 4 Apr 2010
 AP   Sendai, JP - From 21 Apr to 6 Jun 2010
 EU   St Petersburg, RU - From 26 Jun to 8 Aug 2010
 EU   Kazan, RU - From 21 Aug to 26 Sep 2010
 EU   Moscow, RU - From 9 Oct to 12 Dec 2010

2011 schedule[edit]

 EU   Brussels, BE - From 4 Jan to 30 Jan 2011
 EU   Vienna, AT - From 10 Feb to 20 Mar 2011
 EU   Madrid, ES - From 2 Apr to 5 Jun 2011
 EU   Valencia, ES - From 16 Jun to 17 Jul 2011
 EU   Alicante, ES - From 28 Jul to 28 Aug 2011
 EU   Sevilla, ES - From 8 Sep to 16 Oct 2011
 EU   Paris, FR - From 4 Nov 2011 to 8 Jan 2012

2012 schedule[edit]

  •  EU   Barcelona, ES - From 20 Jan to 11 Mar 2012
  •  EU   Amsterdam, NL - From 22 Mar to 3 Jun 2012
  •  EU   Antwerp, BE - From 13 Jun to 5 Aug 2012
  •  EU   Zurich, CH - From 1 Sep to 7 Oct 2012
  •  EU   Düsseldorf, DE - From 18 Oct to 18 Nov 2012
  •  EU   Berlin, DE - From 29 Nov to 30 Dec 2012

2013 schedule[edit]

  •  EU   Hamburg, DE - From 9 Jan to 10 Feb 2013
  •  SA   São Paulo, BR - From 30 Mar to 21 Jul 2013
  •  SA   Brasilia, BR - From 2 Aug to 8 Sep 2013
  •  SA   Belo Horizonte, BR - From 19 Sep to 27 Oct 2013
  •  SA   Curitiba, BR - From 8 Nov to 15 Dec 2013
  •  SA   Rio de Janeiro, BR - From 27 Dec 2013 to 23 Feb 2014

2014 schedule[edit]

  •  SA   Porto Alegre, BR - From 6 Mar to 13 Apr 2014
  •  SA   Córdoba, AR - From 2 May to 25 May 2014
  •  SA   Buenos Aires, AR - From 7 Jun to 3 Aug 2014
  •  SA   Santiago de Chile, CL - From 19 Aug to 5 Oct 2014
  •  SA   Lima, PE- From 25 Oct to 30 Nov 2014

2015 schedule[edit]

  •  SA   San José, CR - From 22 Jan to 8 Feb 2015
  •  SA   Bogotá, CO- From 19 Mar to 3 May 2015
  •  NA   Mérida, MX - From 25 Jun to 12 Jul 2015
  •  NA   Guadalajara, MX - From 30 Jul to 16 Aug 2015
  •  NA   México City, MX - From 3 Sep to 11 Oct 2015
  •  SA   Quito, EC - From 19 Nov to 13 Dec 2015 (Final show)



Reviews of Corteo in the newsmedia have been mixed. In 2005, the Toronto Sun found the show "brilliant" but the Oakland Tribune concluded that it merely "settles for being very good."[14][15] The New York Times gave a lukewarm review in May 2006, stating at best that it "will pass the time pleasantly for those who have seen and enjoyed previous Cirque extravaganzas."[16] Although The Washington Post named it an "Editors' Pick" in November 2006, the headline of its article noted "Some of the Thrill Is Gone."[17] LA Weekly in 2007 praised the acrobats but criticized the clowns.[18] A March 2008 review in The Oregonian was similarly reserved, stating that there is a "disparity in the quality of the acts" and a "lack of a cohesive ending."[19] Nevertheless, Sun Media was enthusiastic about an Ottawa performance of Corteo in September 2008.[20]


  1. ^ "An All-Time Attendance Record set for a New Show in Montreal more than 200,000 People have already seen Corteo". Cirque du Soleil (Press Release). 2005-05-24. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  2. ^ a b Richard Connema. "Cirque du Soleil's Corteo comes to San Francisco". Retrieved 19 August 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Corteo Technical Information" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  4. ^ "Corteo: Characters". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  5. ^ a b "Corteo: Press Kit" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  6. ^ a b c d
  7. ^ a b c Clément, Ronald (2009). Cirque du Soleil 25 Years of Costumes (in CN, English, French, and JP). Canada: Dépôt légal, Bibliothèque et Archives Canada. pp. 90–95. ISBN 978-2-9803493-4-8. 
  8. ^ "Corteo: Acts". Cirque Tribune. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  9. ^ "Corteo: Music". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  10. ^ "Corteo (DVD)". Cirque Tribune. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  11. ^ "Cirque du Soleil: Corteo". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  12. ^ "TV Programs Cirque du Soleil Presents Corteo and Kà Extremem Win an Emmy and two Gémeaux". Cirque du Soleil (Press Release). 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Coulbourn, John (2005-08-06). "Cirque du Soleil's 'Corteo' Brilliant". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  15. ^ Jones, Chad (2005-12-14). "Playful 'Corteo' is a Bouncy Blast in San Francisco". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  16. ^ Rockwell, John (2006-05-05). "The Soleil Never Sets". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  17. ^ Pressley, Nelson (2006-11-04). "'Corteo': Circus Maximum. Cirque du Soleil Show Is Eye-Filling, But Some of the Thrill Is Gone". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  18. ^ L.A. Weekly Theater Critics (2007-08-27). "Theater Reviews: Cirque du Soleil's Corteo, The Hasty Heart". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  19. ^ Butler, Grant (2008-03-05). "'Corteo' Review: Old-World Charm Mixes with Big-Time Fun". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  20. ^ Armstrong, Denis (2008-09-26). "'Corteo' Has Cirque at its Best". Sun Media. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 

External links[edit]