The show boasts a 1,626 meter stage constructed from 10,000 tons of stone and earth, as well as 1,490 square metres of specialized carpet and pool liner for the basin which its carefully constructed underground water system floods with 300,000 litres of water for the finalé. It also boasts an unbelievable overhead technical grid that can support 80 tons of equipment.
The breathtaking live 3D graphic backdrops are projected on an enormous cyclorama the size of three IMAX screens and utilizes 18 powerful projectors. Five musicians sit high above the audience on either side of the stage providing the music and its synchrony to the action on stage.
The show opens in a misty, enchanted forest under rolling clouds where a group of young purebred Arabian horses bursts through the trees to circle a woman in long, flowing robes. She sings to the horses signalling an array of movement and choreography with a gentle wave of a hand.
Odysseo travels through the seasons as it encompasses the globe and visits an array of memorable places like the Mongolian steppes, the Monument Valley, the African savannah, the Nordic glaciers, the Sahara, and Easter Island. The graphics are not stagnant images, but move with the action below, completing the illusion of having been transported to another part of the world.
Everyone steals the show here. One minute it is the African acrobats who have us gasping aloud with their super-human feats of balance and dexterity and their impossibly sculpted bodies, the other it is the four women being lifted from the backs of their horses and into the air to perform an angelic aerial to the sound of an African Kora harp. A group of trick riders slides down the sides of the horses as they gallop at lightning speed across the stage; women clad in long white robes stand on the backs of two horses and gallop over mountains; with only a whisper a young woman asks her horses to fall into line with their necks resting on the horse next to them (a particular crowd pleaser); and at one point a twirling merry-go-round drops from a sky of shooting stars and is mounted by three aerialist couples who dance, bend, and balance to a young woman singing a Spanish song.
The show is so precise that it is astonishing when we remind ourselves that this is live entertainment with thinking, spirited animals. It is only when a young horse breaks from the routine to play at distracting another horse that we are pleasantly pulled from the illusion. Where you may think that this might spoil the act, in fact it is quite the opposite. If anything, it proves to generate even a greater positive response from the audience when the artists gently coax the horse back into position.
Near the end of the show we are invited to participate in an African chant, which the crowd responds to with great enthusiasm. The words we are asked to repeat are, O Walu Guere Moufan, which we discover later translates as, No More War On Earth.
The show concludes with the introduction of the lone, breathtaking Lippizan in silhouette against a raging waterfall. The stage floods as the other horses and riders enter for the finalé and the crowd rises to a much deserved ovation for Odysseo: an odyssey, in the words of visionary Normand Latourelle, that ends in eau.
Odysseo is one of those shows you will look back on for years to come and marvel at the impossibility of its beauty and prowess.
For tickets and show times click on Cavalia, or go to the show's site at The Village on False Creek.