I had the privilege to attend the Cirque du Soleil 30th Anniversary Concert (Musical Tribute) in Montreal. This concert united over 100 musicians, singers and performers. Spectacular would best describe it, but before getting into the details of the show, I would like to say a few words on the venue.
The concert took place at Saint-Jean Batiste Church located in the heart of Montreal in one of its oldest neighbourhood le Plateau Mont-Royal. The actual church as seen today was inaugurated in 1912. Despite falling victim to multiple violent fires prior to 1912, the church was able to keep its original structure. The interior is stunning with its Baroque Revival architecture. They were able to preserve the original chandeliers, the richly ornamented pulpit, the cabinet benches, and the confessionals. The rich architectural ormamentation is in cast plaster. All these characteristics contribute to the splendor of this church. The stained glass was installed in 1932 and was created by Guido Nincheri. When you walk in for the first time, you think you are walking in a church that you would find in Europe: an old structure but with a cozy feeling.
Due to its architecture, the church is well known for its acoustics. Many artistes, especially classical and opera singers record and give concerts here. In addition to that, the church is also one of the few churches in Canada to be equipped with two organs. They were restored in 1995 and 1996.
This being said, this was the best setting for Le Cirque du Soleil. It set an excellent background for their type of show.
I have to admit, at first I was a little disappointed that it was only a musical tribute to the Cirque du Soleil, where they are known for their acrobat performances. Once you past that, the show was exceptional. The voice arrangements between the singers and the choir gave you chills just how powerful it sounded. The musicians were also excellent under the direction of Frederic Chiasson. They were on cue all night long.
What I found was missing was a little direction for what songs they were singing. They did give out a pamphlet but you could not really read it because it was dark. I did not see all their shows through the years and I would of liked to have followed knowing what they were singing. Some songs I recognized, but the experience would of been enhanced if they would of have thought of this detail. The best songs I liked was the Earth Song (Michael Jackson) and Alegria (Alegria). Both songs were powerful and the combination of the singers, the choir and the venue all came together perfectly in these two pieces.
Also they did not have any hosting. They made an announcement at the beginning of the show and that was it. After that is was 30 songs back to back. What is exceptional is that there was no intermission...it went straight for 1.5 hours.
One other critique I would say is that being in a church everyone was sitting at the same level. Some people were complaining that they could not see the stage. What was impressive was the projections they made to the ceiling during the performances....some were graphics, others were video bits. This combined with the churches domes on the ceiling made this quite an effect. This was just breathtaking and is probably worth the price of admission on this effect alone.
The Bottom Line
If you are into the classical opera type of show this is for you. It was a little disappointing not seeing some acrobatics, but at the end of the show they had clowns from all their shows that walked through the crowd. That was an excellent touch.
If you are a pure fan of music like myself, you will definitely love this show. The acoustics of the voice arrangements and the music just blended together perfectly. Combine this with a great light show and you have an exceptional concert. You can tell that Le Cirque du Soleil is the best at what they do and they definitely demonstrated that with this show. The quality was definitely there.
I give this concert an 8 out of 10.
Please find below a couple of videos on the 30th Anniversary of the Cirque du Soleil from the Montreal Gazette. The first video is some highlights of the show. The second is a small report about the anniversary show.
You may also purchase Cirque du soleil merchandise here.
If you have seen the show we would like to hear from you either here or on Facebook or Twitter.
For more information on the St-Jean Baptiste Church, you may visit their website here.
For more information and the latest news on Le Cirque du Soleil, you can visit them on their website here.