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Corteo, which means "cortege" in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth.

The clown pictures his own funeral taking place in a carnival atmosphere, watched over by quietly caring angels. Juxtaposing the large with the small, the ridiculous with the tragic and the magic of perfection with the charm of imperfection, the show highlights the strength and fragility of the clown, as well as his wisdom and kindness, to illustrate the portion of humanity that is within each of us. The music, by turns lyrical and playful, carries Corteo through a timeless celebration in which illusion teases reality.


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Corteo - Set Design

The set and décor of Corteo plunge the audience into a lyrical world, a strange area between heaven and earth.

The Stage

Set Designer Jean Rabasse has divided the rotating stage in two, with each half of the audience facing the other half, so they see not only the performance, but also have a performer’s-eye-view of the audience This is a first for Cirque du Soleil.

  • There is one turntable built into the stage, which is about 41 feet long, and the track is almost 120 feet long.
  • More than 9,000 images were used in the R&D phase of the set design to blend many visual styles and influences, from the baroque to the modern.
  • A completely new stage and acrobatic structure have been fabricated for Corteo arena tour. A good portion of the original design had to be adapted for arena touring.

The “Patience”

The “Patience” is a massive technical structure made of steel above the stage. It is one of the most complex set elements in the show and is used to transport artists, various scenic elements and pieces of acrobatic equipment on and off stage from above.

  • The Patience has three rails that traverse the stage.
  • Each rail is fitted with two platform-like carts to carry the scenic and acrobatic elements.
  • The six carts have a lifting capacity of 500 lbs and a top speed of four feet per second.
  • The Patience is 40 feet above the stage. It is entirely suspended from the sealing structure of the arena.

The Curtains

It was a visit to the exhibition “The Great Parade: Portrait of the Artist as Clown” at the National Gallery of Canada that inspired Jean Rabasse to paint the Corteo Procession on the curtains. His design was influenced by the work of such painters as Willette, Picasso, Tiepolo, Pelez and Knight.

The inspiration for the show’s curtains was an 1885 painting by the Parisian artist Adolphe Willette.

The two enormous baroque-style “Roll Drop” curtains (58 feet wide and almost 40 feet high), and the four sideways-opening Italian-style curtains are among the most striking scenic elements in the show. They were sewn in Canada and sent to France to be painted.

  • It took more than two weeks to paint each of the central curtains in watercolors.
  • The central curtains are attached to huge supports which contain winding motors to roll them.

The Labyrinth

In the center of the circular stage is a labyrinth which exactly reproduces the proportions and size of the classic design on the floor of the aisle in Chartres cathedral.

  • The labyrinth incorporates an eight-inch Moebius strip painted at its center as a symbol of infinity and continuity.