The set and decor of Corteo plunge the audience into a lyrical world, a strange area between heaven and earth.
Set Designer Jean Rabasse has divided the Grand Chapiteau and its 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 are two turntables built into the stage, which is about 104 feet long; the diameter of each turntable is about 41 feet.
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.
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 hung from huge supports which contain winding motors to roll them.
To create the 131 costumes for the 41 characters in Corteo, Designer Dominique Lemieux wanted to accentuate the artists’ natural beauty.
- She used some 900 different fabrics, including natural fibres such as silk, linen, cotton and lace, decorated with stones and sequins. The colour palette ranges from blue to pink to fuchsia, and also includes gold and copper hues.
- Much of the fabric was dyed and airbrushed to give it an aged look.