Back by popular demand,the Zoppé Italian Family Circus returns to Chandler December 26-January 5!
Last season audiences were charmed and dazzled by this Old-World family circus and they can expect the same this season with new acts and audience favorites.
If you’ve never been to see the show, the Zoppé Italian Family Circus is reminiscent of the intimate one-ring European family circuses of the last century. The inside of the tent is very colorful with strings of lights and festive Italian music playing in the background. This magnificent show is propelled by a central story featuring acrobatic feats, equestrian showmanship, canine capers, clowning and plenty of audience participation.
Giovanni Zoppé, the sixth-generation circus performer who plays Nino The Clown, says the show aims higher than the high–concept, high-dollar cirque shows.
“Nobody knows what real circus is,” said Giovanni. “I’m not going to say we’re better than a Cirque du Soleil show at all. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. But it’s not circus. When a kid imagines a circus, [Zoppé Italian Circus] is what they think of. It’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be. It’s like the circus was 100 years ago.”
Or, more precisely, as it was 170 years ago, in 1842, when a French clown named Napoline Zoppé met a ballerina, Ermenegilda, in Hungary, and they ran away to Venice. They were Giovanni’s great great-grandparents.
Cecil B. DeMille brought Giovanni’s father Alberto Zoppé here from Italy. Alberto appeared in “The Greatest Show on Earth,” Mr. DeMille’s Oscar-winning film, and rose in circus lore with his signature act: a backwards, flat somersault – his torso straight as a pole, not tucked into a ball – off the back of a running horse onto the back of a second running horse.
He met his wife, then Sandra Kayler, in the early 1960’s on the road. “They asked for volunteers from the audience,” Sandra recalled. “No one would volunteer for it, and I felt bad, so I volunteered. He was 43. I was 17.” They married and had three children. Alberto passed away in 2009 leaving Giovanni as the patriarch of the family business.
Twenty-two years ago, it almost fell apart. Giovanni was 30 feet from the ground, spinning end-over-end while standing on a trapeze, a highlight of his clown act. “I went outside the circle of centrifugal force. I came down headfirst. I remember falling, but I don’t remember much after that.”
His mother said he landed in a fetal position in the sawdust of the ring and stopped moving. “I dream about it,” she said, still clearly shaken by the memory.
He spent four days in a coma and awoke incoherent and listing to his right. But Giovanni recovered and again put on the costume of Nino the Clown and returned to the ring on the one-year anniversary of his accident.
This family show reaches across generations, creating lasting memories for your entire family!
The circus runs December 26 – January 5. Tickets are available at www.chandlercenter.org or by calling the box office at 480-782-2680