‘Cavalia’s Odysseo’: Was it a dream or real?

Horses cavort in on-stage water in “The Travelers VI” number in Cavalia’s Odysseo.  Photo Credit: François Bergeron

Horses cavort in on-stage water in “The Travelers VI” number in Cavalia’s Odysseo. Photo Credit: François Bergeron

SOMERVILLE — Was it a dream or was it real?
You might find yourself asking that after visiting “Cavalia’s Odyyseo,” now being performed through Aug. 25 under the 125-foot-high big top — advertised as the world’s largest touring tent — located just off Route 93 at Assembly Row in Somerville.
As befitting artistic director Normand Latourelle, one of the co-founders of the phenomenally successful Cirque du Soleil franchise, the $30 million production, featuring 63 horses and 47 human performers, has an ethereal, dream-like feel to it.
The visual concept by Geodezik includes high-definition digital projections that form the backdrop to the ever-changing 17,500-square-foot stage, whisking us to various corners of the globe.

The Grand Cavalia III number in Cavalia’s Odysseo. Photo Credit: Pascal Ratthé

The Grand Cavalia III number in Cavalia’s Odysseo. Photo Credit: Pascal Ratthé

The lighting is soft, the vocals and musical score melancholy and offering a sense of longing. But then the music abruptly shift moods, as the horses give way to a spectacular troupe of acrobats, or other daredevils who are human pogo sticks, propelled upward by springs that look like the carbon fibre “legs” used by Oscar Pistorius at last summer’s Olympics.
Acrobats will reemerge later, pounding out their own beat in the backdrop even as they perform even more amazing feats.
But it is many of the equine wonders that will lift you out of your seat, and the marriage of horse and human is taken to the highest level I’ve ever seen on stage.
There are equine delights to satisfy even the most ardent lover of the animal: stallions and geldings who parade, stop and pirouette in unison, horses that form a pinwheel, trick riding, amazing mounts and dismounts, and even one rider who somehow stays attached to the animal as he navigates down one side of the animal, underneath it and then emerges on the other side, regaining the saddle even as the animal gallops along at full speed.
The 63 performing geldings and stallions have been culled from 11 different breeds while the 47 two-legged performers — acrobats, aerialists, hail from 13 countries,
In the second act, water will enter the picture — as in an underground water system that pills 80,000 gallons of water into a specially constructed pool onstage for the spectacular finale
The human and equine performers are a true ensemble, so much so that, just as in the Cirque shows, individual performers in “Odysseo” are not introduced.
For too long, the feats of these superb animal and humans performers were displayed under dusty tents or huge arenas, where the feats were just a rumor to those in the upper reaches.
“Odysseo” is conducted under a comfortable, air-conditioned big top, with all 2,000 seats constructed for the best possible view of the show.
See “Odysseyo” and be entranced and amazed.
“Cavalia’s Odysseo.” Artistic direction by Normand Latourelle. Direction by Wayne Fowkes. Equestrian direction and choreography by Benjamin Aillaud. Until August 25 under the White Big Top, at Assembly Row in Somerville, at the intersection of Interstate 93 and Route 28, 201 Assembly Square Drive, Somerville., Tickets: http://www.cavalia.net or by calling 1-866-999-8111. http://www.cavalia.net

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