A fusion of circus and baroque opera meet in Il Ritorno

Circa Il Ritorno - photo by Damien BredbergFusing its world famous stripped-back acrobatics with baroque opera, Circa’s groundbreaking new work, Il Ritorno will be performed at Arts Centre Melbourne, The Arts Centre Gold Coast and Lismore City Hall for selected dates throughout August 2016.

Over 75 taut minutes, Claudio Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno D’Ulisse in Patria is retold, intermingling it with folk songs and new compositions, percolating it through the lens of Primo Levi’s post WW2 European displacement.

The stage is awash with bodies tumbling, lifting and clutching. Then, out of the darkness and gnawed by nostalgia, the Greek hero Ulysses appears after 20 long years of war and wanderings. Will he reach his faithful wife Penelope before she succumbs to her suitors?

Il Ritorno D’Ulisse in Patria is taken from the second half of Homer’s Odyssey, and tells how constancy and virtue are ultimately rewarded, treachery and deception overcome. At the core of Il Ritorno is the hunger to return home – saturated with loss and war, powered by longing and haunted by the past.

Created by circus visionary Yaron Lifschitz, in collaboration with  composer and arranger Quincy Grant, Il Ritorno is performed by an outstanding cast of singers and accompanists who join the famed members of Brisbane’s Circa Ensemble.

“Sometimes, as they say in the movies, ‘this one is personal’. That is how I feel about Il Ritorno,’’ said Lifschitz. “It is personal because Primo Levi’s account of returning from the innermost circle of hell that was Auschwitz only to end up in the vast expanse of the Russian steppe was tinged with the same crushing nostalgia, post-traumatic memory and cold hope that I heard beating at the heart of Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno D’ Ulisse in Patria.”

“It is only through good fortune and the caprices of history that my family ended in the sun of Australia rather than the fires of that evil and it is beholden on us to tell of it. When we challenge ourselves, when we make it personal, when we try to communicate difficult, inexpressible things and when we share them, raw, vulnerable and without the safety net of convention… we have continued to help a little to keep culture alive – culture which may be our only defence.”

Since 2004 Circa has been at the frontier of new circus – creating powerful works of circus art that challenge, thrill and delight. Featuring an ensemble of multi-skilled circus artists under the direction of Yaron Lifschitz, Circa’s award-winning works have been seen in 34 countries across six continents. Il Ritorno was presented in a world premiere season at the 2015 Brisbane Festival, and was the 2016 Helpmann Award Winner for Best Visual or Physical Theatre Production.

“Il Ritorno offers a powerful vision of humanity and compassion… a luminous new work” – The Australian

Il Ritorno
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 17 – 20 August 2016
Information and Bookings: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au

The Arts Centre Gold Coast, 135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise
Season: 26 – 27 August 2016
Information and Bookings: www.theartscentregc.com.au

Lismore City Hall, 1 Bounty Street, Lismore
Season: 31 August – 2 September 2016
Information and Bookings: www.norpa.org.au

For more information, visit: www.circa.org.au for details.

Image: Circa presents Il Ritorno – photo by Damien Bredberg