REVIEW: Cirque des Voix, a uniquely Sarasota blockbuster
REVIEW OF CIRQUE DES VOIX.
Key Chorale, Sarasota Young Voices and Circus Sarasota. Reviewed Jan. 15.
Last year we saw the birth of something truly special and unique to the cultural traditions of Sarasota - Cirque des Voix, a powerful blend of live chorale and orchestral music with the daring and entertaining performance of live circus artistry. Judging from this highly successful second season run of only three shows, for the most part sold out, this concept dreamed up by Key Chorale and Circus Sarasota has the potential to nip at the heels of the Cirque du Soleil behemoth.
Although not yet up to Las Vegas standards, this show elicited hearty cheers from the first introduction and the dramatic heft of full chorus, orchestra with "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" and an opening act of fire-eaters and twirlers.
This show was so much more than a list of musical selections and circus performers. From the audience perspective, attention could not be split easily between the fascinating acts and the musicians. However, pure musical segments featuring, for example, the Key Chorale in "Rex Tremendae" from the Requiem by Karl Jenkins or the Sarasota Young Voices under the direction of Genevieve Beauchamp in Stephen Hatfield's "Camino Caminante," were interspersed periodically, creating an amiable mix and pacing of action.
The Young Voices' polished sound and secure musical control are quite impressive in two Hatfield works, the second of which, "Uberlebensgross" (Larger Than Life), featured a percussion battery of stick clicking and choreographed moves by girls of the chorus.
A highlight from last year's show was brought back with an added layer - Queen of the Air Dolly Jacobs graced the sky above our heads to Ennio Morricone's memorable "Gabriel's Oboe." In another stroke of genius, she and her partner in the air, Yuri Risjkov, flew together to Howard Blake's "Walking in the Air" with all musical forces on hand. It was simply mesmerizing.
The show saw the debut of Annaliese Nock (yes, daughter of THE Bello Nock) in a charming human snowglobe balancing act to yet another excerpt from Karl Jenkins' Requiem.
Clowns Karen Bell, Robin Eurick, Chuck-O and Billy Bob Steinberg added a good amount of chuckles which helped fortify us for the always thrilling high-wire daring of Tino Wallenda and the Flying Wallendas. The drama of their two, three and so on tiered balancing was intensified by a selection of movie scores - John Williams' "The Lost World" ("Jurassic Park") and Hans Zimmer's "Gladiator."
The Key Chorale smartly featured Jenkin's Requiem again by using the Dies Irae for a grand finale with all acts in the ring. The hint is, of course, if you liked that, come to their Feb 26 performance of the entire Requiem under the Sailor Circus big top. Judging from his superlative ringmaster performance in addition conducting the show, Chorale music director Joseph Caulkins secretly wants to don the red tails and top hat full time.
And if you missed this phenomenal show and want to catch it before it hits Las Vegas, your next chance is March 25 at St. Pete's Palladium Theater.