Odysseo’s talent arrived in San Francisco at the football field size Big Top at AT&T park last week, including two Californians, Brennan Figari an aerialist and Spencer Elizabeth Rose, a Roman rider. Creator Normand Latourelle, formerly of Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, brings his company Cavalia’s 30 million dollar big top show with 65 gorgeous horses and 45 stage performers, live music and Cirque du Soleil quality costumes and make-up. He will go home to Montreal to be with his 92 year old mother near Mount Royal for Christmas. ‘It’s better not to make her mad’ he says. He seems to be a gentle and relaxed gentleman but on a mission, heading to San Jose and to Los Angeles to scout locations.
Related: Odysseo 2015 video
Related: Odysseo, multi-media cirque featuring horses in a big top, setting up tent for local Brennan Figari and others
Brennan Figari of tiny Woodacre in Marin County will get to spend his first Thanksgiving home in five years. He just spent some time with his parents and some Odysseo friends in Hawaii before coming back to SF for the engagement. His Odysseo friends had never been to Hawaii and seemed to take to the surfing, diving and all things Hawaiian in spectacular fashion that surprised and delighted Figari. Usually the Odysseons get one day off per week and it’s hard to avoid each other no matter where the tour stops. They eat and sleep and work together, although Figari and the rest do wear headphones while practicing. Eating together means the chefs try to please everybody. The two Muslims on tour eat no pork so any such dish gets a clear label. Part of the Odysseo show actually involves great food and in abundance with the VIP tent offering a delectable buffet, desserts and open bar, which remains open at intermisison. Latourelle said Odysseo had sold 30,000 tickets so far as of Friday.
Odysseo arrived in SF last week on a gorgeous Friday at noon and Marin’s Brennan Figari appeared with his asymmetical blond hair cut, a shaved head with a tiny pony tail at the back. Figari, lean and muscled and in his mid twenties, dressed casually and introduced another native of California, Spencer Elizabeth Rose. The beauty with long dark hair flowing rode onto the lawn, on two horses moving side by side as she stood astride for a demonstration of Roman riding. Her white cape flowed in the sea breeze off the marina near McCovey Cove. Show and company creator Normand Latourelle introduced the Nomads or Cossack riders who appeared with six horses and exotically caped riders in jewel tones, moving in formations like dressage riders. The woman with flowing black hair and wearing magenta and orange is Virginie Loiselle.
Latourelle said the horses fly in on 747s from Manitoba to Oakland then get driven to the stables. This day meant re-uniting with their riders. Latourelle introduced Dorian Escalon, the equestrian director, a young and lean French speaker with his black hair in a pony tail. Here are original videos with more carousel riders and the Arabians of the Liberty act.
The Liberty performer, soloist Elise Verdoncq from France, appeared with three dappled or white Arabian horses who moved freely following her physical cues. She wore her long blond hair free and spoke English well with her French accent. Verdoncq worked with equestrienne Sarah Gibault, in a red and orange costume. The young Arabians wore simple black rope halters, so munched the green grass outside McCovey cove. Somebody has been using the sprinklers it appears and it’s just a small or token patch but enough to get some fresh air on.
Verdoncq talked about the moods and personalities of the horses and how that affects the show. Even if one human performer is off that affects all. As they say in theater class, a professional works it in. Eric Paquette had shaved his face smooth for the occasion after having flown in weeks before to help the crew set up the football field of a big top, running a quarter mile around. Marc Beaudry, standing tall and sporting his soft white and gray beard, says we kiss each side of the face hello. Lesson learned.
Odysseo opens Thursday evening and runs for about three weeks, to December 13 at 2 pm. Odysseo performs matinees at 2 pm some days and at 8 pm for evening shows. Here is the calendar. Tickets may be purchased from the call center, open 8 am to 10 pm; the box office on site in China Basin from 10 am to 7 pm; or on line. One may bike from Embarcadero BART easily to AT&T park or get there on foot, pedicab or Muni along the Embarcadero. The parking lot charges $25. A collection of permanent food trucks set up next to the park and there’s the cafe at South Beach marina with outside cafe tables.