Zoppé: An Italian Family Circus returns to Tucson for its 11th year at the Mercado District, bringing new acts to perform under the Big Top tent.
Circus director Giovanni Zoppé said returning to the Big Top “feels like we’re home again, back where we are supposed to be.”
When COVID first swept the nation, the circus adapted their show into a drive-in experience. The audience had a full view of circus performances while staying isolated in their vehicles. This is just one of many adaptations the circus has gone through during its 178-year run. Although the drive-in was successful in reaching audiences, performers are excited to return to the tent.
“The best thing for me is to watch the performers be filled back up again with what they love about performing and I’m proud that they were able to continue to perform last year, but they were missing something,” said Jeanette Prince, circus co-producer and marketing director.
In honor of the Big Top return during a global pandemic, the tour has been named La Vita Nuova (A New Life).
“As a ringmaster says at the beginning of the show, this is a new life for all of us,” Zoppé said. “We’re all trying to navigate through this brand-new life that we all have.”
The circus will run for a limited time this month at the Mercado District. Opening night is Thursday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. and shows continue at various times through Sunday, Jan. 23.
This year’s performances will feature acts such as the Russian Bar act with Mikhail & Alexel Drozdov and Illya Alikov; swinging trapeze acrobatics by Disa Carneol; and sword balancing by German Rodogell. Ringmaster Mace Perlman will moderate the lively performances.
Zoppé and Prince are particularly excited about the performance of their contortionist.
“You can see somebody go over their head or twist the leg around and that’s great, but he does it with such class and such elegance,” Zoppé said.
Prince said the contortionist pushes the bounds of the human body while incorporating artistic skills from his classical ballet training.
The newest addition to the Zoppé family, 8-month-old Ilario Fabrizio Luigino Zoppé, may also make an appearance at the Big Top performances during pre-show or the finale.
“As soon as he hears the music for the finale and we walk in the ring, I reach my arms out to grab him and he smiles his biggest mug,” Zoppé said.
The circus will be offering short mini-shows on Fridays at 10 a.m. The mini-shows are one hour, as opposed to the full two-hour shows.