“Cavalia” and now “Odysseo” are both created and directed by Normand Latourelle, one of the original founders of Cirque du Soleil. “Odysseo” takes place in a forest, when man and horse meet in a world of dreams.
The show opens with a dozen horses entering with their trainers. Seven scenes round out the first act with eight in the second, virtually all of them intertwining horses and acrobats, many in a breath-taking, imaginative manner.
It’s all under an enormous big top tent, called by its organizers the biggest tent in the world. It’s two and a quarter times the size of the original tent from “Cavalia.” (That show was staged at Atlantic Station, but this one had to be moved to Spring Street when organizers simply needed more space.)
Both performers call “Odysseo” completely different than “Cavalia.”
“It’s much bigger,” says Figari. “We have more horses and twice as many people.”
Alvarez has his own take.
“I like to say that the show is ‘Lord of the Rings’ meets a pony show – the circus comes to town,” he says. “There are a lot of beautiful moments, especially in the opening scene. The set is absolutely amazing.”
In all there are 71 horses from countries all over the world. And for those who relish traditional Cirque-like touches, “Odysseo” features astonishing visuals and live music, as well as some dance.
Alvarez and Figari are in the same numbers and play supporting roles in others, before the entire troupe comes out for the finale. One of their two acts is Tempete, an aerial hoops routine in which the acrobats hold hoops the horses jump through. The other is Carusello, which is the rotating carousel. Both are audience favorites, says Figari.
The horse element adds an extra dimension to the show, Figari says.
“It’s not like you can have a conversation with the horse beforehand,” laughs Figari.
He says that there are no real divas on the set — performer or horse — but a few of the horses can “misbehave” at times. Hence each show can be somewhat different, meaning that it can be impossible to make the horses do every single thing expected from them on cue.
Neither man had worked with horses prior to “Odysseo.”
Figari saw “Cavalia” in Los Angeles and, ironically, three months later was hired to be part of “Odysseo.”
“I think they had to train me more than the horses,” says Figari.
“Odysseo” premiered in Montreal earlier this fall where the show was warmly received. Both men have great memories of the world premiere.
Since “Cavalia” extended its run here a few years ago, Figari and Alvarez are hopeful “Odysseo” will do the same. Leading up to the opening, it’s not unheard of for the “Odysseo” performers to rehearse twice a day as they have prepared for opening night.
After the show ends in Atlanta, it will move on to Miami. Both men are committed to “Odysseo” for a few years.
While they acknowledge that “Odysseo” and “Cavalia” have gay/lesbian fans, they don’t think there is one particular reason why.
“I think that this is a show that everyone likes,” says Alvarez.
Top photo: ‘Odysseo’ features a myriad of equestrian and acrobatic acts under what organizers bill as the biggest tent in the world. (Publicity photo)