The famous touring troupe of Cirque du Soleil, or Circo del Sol as it is known in Costa Rica, will be performing “Funeral” at Hacienda Espinal in Alajuela until Feb. 8th.
It might seem an unexpected topic for Cirque du Soleil to take on a funeral as subject material, but the French (and in this case French-Canadian) sensibility towards death might be a bit different from the pervading outlook. Upon viewing a number of funeral traditions from around the world, you’ll find that the dead are often sent off with bang rather than a whimper. In some cases, it is a bit of both. Maybe Cirque du Soleil is trying to present this skewed idea of death in its show in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
“Corteo,” as the show is referred to in Costa Rica, reviews the life of a clown who has recently passed. The clown in question is present in spirit form as his friends perform his last rites, and he observes the ways in which they pay homage to him from beyond the grave. The funeral is held in a circus tent, and acrobats are one of the main features of performance. Corteo is from an Italian word (cortege) for procession, and may be in reference to the procession of a funeral. Then again maybe not. You’ll have to watch and see.
Cirque du Soleil originally was formed by the street performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix in1984 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and has become an international success since its inception more than thirty years prior. Corteo first premiered in North America in 2005, and is inspired by “The Grand Parade: Portrait of Artist as Clown” on display at the National Gallery of Canada. The show in Alajuela will mark more than 2,000 showings since the production first began, and the show will be permanently retired as of November 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico.
A film of the production won an Emmy in 2007 and a Gemini Award the following day. Watch an excerpt of the show as performed in Sao Paolo, Brasil.