Odysseo, In The Big Tent, Irvine

Categories: Day Tripping, Do As The Locals Do, Featured, Music Diva, Night Life Diva, Not-so-Vanilla Diva
Contributing Diva: Angela Rocco DeCarlo

odysseo-by-cavaliaAbout the only thing missing from Odysseo, the mesmerizing equine show from Cavalia, the Cirque du Soleil-style horse show, is Pegasus, the winged horse.
Stabled in the huge white tent – looks like a marvel of engineering, at the 405 and 133 in Irvine, CA, we, together with our younger grandchildren were entranced by the grace and charm of humans and their mighty steeds in this exciting show.
We had seen Cavalia when it was in the same location in 2007  with our older grandchildren. I wanted to see it again and it was well worth a second look.
There is a certain magic in watching a 2,000 pound animal dance gracefully.

The brilliance of Odysseo’s designers in having a beautifully formed horse shown on a hill in the distance, illuminated in black silhouette, was stunning.
Everyone has seen horses execute nimble movements, but this depiction of control, training and charm was unique due to the staging. The audience was so enchanted it’s doubtful few noticed stage front becoming a shallow pond. A wonderful effect as riders then took their mounts to gently splash in the little stream.
The show begins slowly enough, to give the audience a chance to review the numerous animals in a pastoral scene, before set exercises begin.
I found the white horse close drill fascinating as they were corralled into formations showing off their obedience and skill under the hand of a female trainer.
Later on I wondered at the meaning of the lovely flowing costumes and tried to tie them to some historical era but gave up as there were no clues to help. It reminded me of some Wagner operas which defy specific locations so one just sits back to enjoy the performance taking place in an indeterminate time and place.
The imaginative sets included a raked stage and movie screen which gave depth to many scenes where vignettes took place.  The wide movie screen backdrop was used sparingly so the performers were not overshadowed.
Normand Latourelle, one of the founders of Canada’s Cirque du Soleil, has ginned up the show a bit from the 2007 edition I recall. Before the opening an interesting little quiz on details of the show serves to provide information many would wonder at. How many horses – 65; how many humans 48 and so on.
The age and gender of the horses is revealed…all males of various ages. No word on the humans ages. It was a clever opening to satisfy curiosity.
odysseo-by-cavaliaSome may have preferred a faster-paced opening, but things picked up quickly with my favorite segments coming middle and toward the end. The carousal sequence featured male and female aerialists of superb beauty and talent. The men showed superhuman control as they levitated horizontally while holding on to a pole. They were truly fantastic.
Of course, the “trick riders” could not have been more exciting.
Up and over. Inside and out. Top and bottom. Slipping, flipping and slamming around the saddle while the horses galloped at full speed. It made me think of the old Wild West shows I’ve seen only in movies. Those shows traveled the world more than a hundred years ago featuring cowboys and Indians in action-packed vignettes.
The lovely women standing with a foot on each of two tandem horses was a study in beauty and elegant excitement. Lovely to see.
My grandson, age 12, liked the acrobats featured in the African
scene. The robust dancing, dazzling flips and rhythmic drumming partnered with a distant backdrop on the wide screen of what looked like elephants grazing under the distinctive trees of the veldt.
With children in tow I was concerned about the tent being cold
and drafty. I never had to use the coats and blanket I brought even though the weather turned cold (for California) and rainy. The interior was toasty and comfortable for all ages. Odysseo is playing until January 8. It is a bit pricey but a unique gift experience for the kiddies. Our four tickets were – gulp – about $400.
Seats were comfortable and sight lines perfect. All the staff encountered were super polite and helpful. Not a grump in the bunch.

images-2Odysseo – under the big top
Irvine, CA @ the 405 & 133
Show runs through January 8, 3017
Tickets:$29.50 to VIP  $269.50
Call: 866-999-8111
online: cavalia.net

Angela Rocco DeCarlo, a former Chicago journalist,  covers travel, entertainment and culture.


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