AURA CARDINALI THE GUEST STAR CIRQUE AQUATIC ANDER THE BIG TOP IN VENICE
AURA CARDINALI UN SUCCESSO OLTRE OCEANO PER LA PRIMA VOLTA IN AMERICA IL PUBBLICO DELLA FLORIDA SI ALZA IN PIEDI PER 5 MINUTI DI APPLAUSI.
Circus performance in Venice
Prince the Penguin and Aura Cardinali director artist Sandro Ravagnani for Milan, pause for a photo during rehearsals for their upcoming appearance in the production of "Cirque Aquatic Under The Big Top." (CORRESPONDENT PHOTO / MATT HOUSTON) By TERRY O'CONNOR
VENICE - Cirque Italia will become the first international circus to open in Venice in more than two decades when a show named "Aquatic" makes its splashy debut Friday.
When: Tonight 7 p.m.; Saturday 11 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m., 5 p.m.; and again next week beginning Thursday.
Cost: Adults $20-$35, children $10-$35
Tickets/more information: Call 485-7675 or go to venicecircusarts.com.
The show will open in a new $2.3 million set donated by the famed Italian circus, the third-largest in the world, which extended a helping hand from across the Atlantic Ocean after owner Manuel Rebbechi learned the Venice circus arena could be torn down in lieu of repairs estimated at $10 million.
"Facebook saved us," said Tito Gaona of the Venice Circus Arts Foundation while showing off the 1,244-seat custom-built circus tent now standing in the Jacaranda Plaza parking lot at 1667 U.S. Highway 41 Bypass South. "That's how he found out about us. This is all state-of-the-art and all-new equipment. It's the modern circus."
The one-ring blue-and-white tent houses a circulation system pumping 35,000 gallons of water through the "water circus tent" made in Venice, Italy by Bassano del Grappa. The tent and all equipment was lent to the Venice Circus Arts Foundation for a series of 13 fund-raising shows over two weekends.
Operations Director Pamela Clark said advance ticket sales are steady.
"We've already sold 40 percent but we still have a long way to go toward of goal of selling out every performance," Clark said.
A portion of every ticket sold will be donated to the Venice Circus Arts Foundation for its "save the arena project," which needs $10 million to renovate the former home of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, circa 1960-92.
Fifth-generation trapeze artist Gaona envisions a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus museum will be built eventually along with a clown college.
The biggest problem besides funding is location. Federal law requires any operation on site must be a revenue producer for the airport fund because it sits on airport property.
Gaona remains undaunted.
"The situation is bad for grants and fundraising," Gaona said. "So we said, "We'll do it with circus productions.' We're not begging."
Gaona said he hopes the "Aquatic" series of shows can raise the $100,000 needed to patch the arena roof.
The new show revolves around six female and one male "penguin" stranded on a chunk of breakaway Antarctica ice. Prince Penguin and his erstwhile harem have spectacular adventures meeting all manner of sea creatures.
No real animals are used in the circus. Disney-like costumed characters interact with circus performers from Hungary, Mongolia and Russia on the watery set.
"Aquatic" will run from tonight through Sunday and again from March 29-April 1, with three shows each Saturday, two shows on Sunday and two on the second Friday.
Tickets are $35 for ringside seats, $25 for adults in rows two through five and $20 for adults in rows six through 11. Tickets for children 12 and younger seated in rows two through 11 are $10 each.
The Venice Circus Arts Foundation has three years left to try to raise the money needed for renovations before City Council can reclaim the property and dedicate it to another use. Gaona vowed that won't happen.
"What are they gonna do if they take it down?" Gaona said. "Put up another 7-11?
"You can't rebuild history," Clark said.