On a chilly Spring evening we headed over the to the Port Lands to take in Cavalia’s second show, Odysseo. Odysseo brings 70 horses and 45 artists on a journey in yet another world – a world of dreams – where, together, they discover some of the planet’s most unforgettable landscapes. With this new creation, Cavalia marries the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical effects at never-before-seen levels.
To give life to this extraordinary equestrian adventure, Cavalia created a 1,626 square metres stage, in the middle of which rise two hills each three storeys tall. Some 10,000 tons of rock, earth and sand are trucked in and then sculpted to create a vast space.
To enhance this breathtaking experience, the production presents a splendid voyage with extremely high-definition computer graphic images, transporting the audience across the world’s most beautiful landscapes. To project these breathtaking graphic backdrops on an immense cyclorama the size of three IMAX screens, Odysseo uses projectors as powerful as those illuminating the grandest movie theaters.
The dream begins in a misty, enchanted forest where horses graze and frolic under a sky of rolling clouds and a setting sun. Horses, riders, acrobats and musicians embark on a soulful journey that leads them from the Mongolian steppes to Monument Valley, from the African savannah to Nordic glaciers, from the Sahara to Easter Island.
Throughout this grand voyage, spectators discover urban stilters and applaud the prowess of a troupe of African acrobats. Viewers are mesmerized by horses powering angelic aerialists in a four-person silks act that takes them into the skies. To the sound of an African harp called a Kora, audiences witness the beauty of 15 horses lying on sand dunes awaken. They will likewise appreciate the beautiful liberty number, uniting purebred Arabian horses directed by inaudible vocal commands from their kneeling trainer.
The Odysseo epic wraps up with a fantastic crescendo as the stage is inundated with 300,000 litres of water in just a few minutes. A vertiginous virtual waterfall overhangs the resulting lake, in which horses, riders and artists join to frolic.
The overall experience at Odysseo consisted of a melding of magic and majesty. Between the performers friendly smiling beckoning nods as they rode by on the most beautiful horses to the horses giving the audience knowing glances – the 2.5 hour performance left us moved, emotional and feeling grateful to have taken in such a journey.
The fairy like acrobatic dances versus the African vignettes made for beautiful interludes as horses were revolved for even more extraordinary dancing and running sequences. As the worlds transformed in front of us we the audience participated in sing offs between sections led by the acrobats – these moments proved to be well rounded and interactive.
Highlights could be seen in the Merry Go Round vignette which was mesmerizing and hypnotic. How can you not gawk at the tremendous and taut bodies of the artists? It made me not want to eat another brownie at the break and do some sit ups when I got home that evening.
The lake of water sequence was also exciting and thrilling. To see the horses and the artists run and play together as the basin magically filled made us smile with glee and breathe in a different texture of the night’s performance.
There was a moment when one rogue horse ran off as the other horses participated in a dance with their individual artists. No one flinched. The artists carried on with the performance while the rogue horse had its moment and came back into line. It was neat to see that even a show as perfectly coordinated as Odysseo can’t control a wild horse looking for a little fun on their time. The horses are truly in charge of the show.
I recommend the RENDEZ-VOUS VIP PREMIUM experience when booking your Odysseo tickets. It will put you that much closer to the horses, artists and a wonderful behind the scenes luxe experience.
What do you get at the RENDEZ-VOUS VIP PREMIUM experience?
Access to the private RENDEZ-VOUS VIP Lounge 90 minutes before the show, during the intermission and after the show
Buffet with a wide variety of complimentary foods served before the show (The yummy eats served included of pulled pork sandwiches, samosas, canapés and gorgeous salads).
Wine, bubbly and beer at will (The beer and delicious sparkling made us go back for second rounds).
Dessert Buffet, coffee and tea served during intermission (The desserts consisted of brownies, canolis, Hagen Daz ice cream tubs, chocolate dipped fruit and big overflowing bags of freshly popped popcorn).
Exclusive stable tour after the show (The stable tour was truly the icing on the cake. We were able to meet the artists and horses in their milieu. The artists were incredibly hospitable and took their time answering our questions. The horses were friendly too and were keen to stand beside us and take loads of pictures for prosperity).
Lastly, indulge on some Fun Facts as you prepare to buy your Odysseo tickets:
- Odysseo features 70 horses of 14 different breeds including the Appaloosa, Arabian, Canadian, Criollo, Holsteiner, Lusitano, Oldenburg, Paint Horse, Percheron, Quarter Horse, Selle français, Purebred (P.R.E.), Warmblood and Lipizzan.
- The horses are from Spain, Portugal, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, The United States and Canada.
- There are 45 artists – riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians.
- The artists are from around the world including the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Belgium, Guinea, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, Japan and Poland.
- There are 350 costumes and 100 pairs of shoes and boots in the show. Artists may have up to seven different costumes.
- An artist may have no more than 30 seconds to do a quick costume change between numbers.
- A team of 13 dressmakers, one property master, one designer and one shoemaker worked in the Cavalia studios to create the costumes.
- Materials used in the costumes include linen, silk, cotton, leather and some imitation fur. The use of natural fibers gives the clothes sheen and lets them fall in a way that synthetic fibers simply cannot match.
- The costumes are adapted to the artists’ needs, especially those of the acrobats and riders, to facilitate their onstage movement while not compromising their appearance.
- The on-tour costume department consists of one wardrobe person and three dressers who launders, mends and cares for the costumes. At times during the show, they juggle 15 simultaneous wardrobe changes. They have two sewing machines, one shoe-repair machine and one overlock machine.
Toronto, you have until May 24, 2015 to see Odysseo. Then it heads off to Montreal (Quebec) as they commence their last run of programming on June 17 2015.