Theater and Music Preview: IL RITORNO (Circa Contemporary Circus)

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by Tony Frankel on January 17, 2018

in Dance,Music,Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area


The uber-innovative Australian performance troupe, Circa, returns to the States with its newest production, Il Ritorno, a unique production that melds circus arts with Baroque opera to explore themes of loss and displacement. This special engagement takes place one night only, Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at the gorgeous Musco Center for the Arts in Orange (the next stop for the tour is in Berkeley, February 3 & 4).

Circus visionary Yaron Lifschitz collaborated with composer/arranger Quincy Grant and the Circa Ensemble to reimagine Monteverdi’s 1639 opera Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria. Six acrobats, four chamber musicians, and two singers make up this stark and emotionally gripping production that uses the story of Ulysses’ homecoming to illuminate the plight of contemporary refugees and exiles.

Circa uses the metaphor of movement to explore the physical and emotional struggles of displaced people throughout history. Monteverdi’s score, performed live with the musicians onstage as part of the action, is a companion to a visual staging that finds the performers striving to connect with each other in a hostile environment. These seven highly skilled acrobatic artists precariously lift, hold, levitate and fall – their exquisite movements driven by forces of desire, devastation, and absence. The movement and music, augmented by contemporary sound design and bold lighting effects, embody and enact ideas of homesickness, longing, grief, and alienation against the backdrop of a stark black wall.

Considered to be one of the world’s leading performance companies, Circa Contemporary Circus is at the forefront of the new wave of contemporary Australian circus – pioneering how extreme physicality can create powerful and moving forms. Having performed in 39 countries for over a million people, the company continues to push the boundaries of the art form, blurring the lines between movement, dance, theatre, and circus, and leading the way with a diverse range of thrilling creations.

photos by Tristram Kenton

Il Ritorno
Circa Contemporary Circus
Musco Center for the Arts
and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County
Chapman University, 415 North Glassell in Orange
plays January 23, 2018 at 8
(pre-show talk with KUSC’s Brian Lauritzen at 7)
for tickets, call 844.626.8726 or visit Musco Center
or visit the Philharmonic Society

next stop, Cal Performances in Berkeley
February 3 & 4, 2018
for more tour dates and cities, visit Circa

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