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Did You Know?
Turning Music Into Motion

    “If someone put together a Cirque du Soleil Cover Band that only played the Cirque's music, do you think it would be popular to the general public?”

A fan of Cirque du Soleil posed such a question in early 2004 and the response provoked was rather negative. Who would want to listen to a cover band play Cirque music, some asked? And why would you want to hear it out of context, others inquired. Cirque fans had been listening to songs out of context through the company’s CD releases, how would this be any different? For starters, it would be a different group of people attempting to play the music in different genres than it was intended. But that didn’t mean everyone found the idea tough to swallow – including Cirque itself. Although we can’t say that fans helped give birth to the idea of a Cirque du Soleil concert-type show, it wasn’t long after that Cirque du Soleil announced something similar...

The Great ExperimentCirque du Concerts?
Quest For BalanceUnpluggedConclusion

The Great Experiment

    “We will be celebrating the music of Cirque!”

    The first test of this hypothesis can be traced back to 2003 and the company’s flirtation with remixing their music catalog. “As Cirque du Soleil ventures towards new creative grounds, its music is doing the same!” a release from CirqueClub advised. “A new music project, called TAPIS ROUGE, unites our music with the talent of some of the best producers in electronic music today. The result is the innovative remix CD: Solarium. The first CD to feature this new ‘chill mix’ approach to Cirque du Soleil's music is now available!”

    Later on came a separate, more up-beat dance music urban concept known as DELIRIUM (named after the break room at Cirque du Soleil’s Headquarters in Montreal). By May 2005, the two CDs were released as a set – SOLARIUM / DELIRIUM. “This 2-disc compilation is packed with chilled-out rhythms (SOLARIUM) and hot, sparkling beats (DELIRIUM) - a celebration of 20 years of Cirque du Soleil’s creative excellence. The SOLARIUM disc is a cool, ambient, chill-out collection, and includes remixes by Ibizarre, A Man Called Adam, Cottonbelly, Christophe Goze and Thievery Corporation. The DELIRIUM disc captures the hot, sparkling energy of a festive dance party, and features innovative remixes by noteworthy DJs and producers, such as Louie Vega (featuring Jaffa), Julien Jabre, Roger Sanchez, Sasha, François K, Eric Kupper and many more!”

    Both concepts proved popular. Would Cirque take the next step?

Cirque du Concerts?

    It was during Soleil de Minuit, the Montreal International Jazz Festival's big outdoor show, which featured 200 artists and celebrated Cirque's 20th Anniversary, where the seeds were sown for Delirium. While he was watching the jazzfest, he said, representatives of live-entertainment giant Clear Channel Entertainment were at his side. "They just looked at me and said, 'Daniel, you don't realize it but you have a new show. We would love to tour a show of that magnitude in arenas around North America and around the world.' So I looked at them and I turned to Guy Laliberte and said, 'That's an interesting idea. Why don't we explore it?'" Lamarre said. And so they did...

    On February 7, 2005, Chief Executive Officer of Clear Channel Entertainment Theatrical, Scott Zeiger and President and Chief Operating Officer of Cirque du Soleil, Daniel Lamarre, announced that Clear Channel Entertainment and Cirque du Soleil had formed a partnership to develop and produce a 100-date nationwide North American arena tour, beginning in November 2005, called "Le Best of Cirque du Soleil". From the press release:

      For the first time ever, Cirque du Soleil will perform principally one-night concert engagements in major arenas across North America. The new show will feature the music catalog of Cirque du Soleil and will re-define the concert experience, incorporating Cirque du Soleil’s unique brand of innovative staging and its imaginative use of video projections and music. Cirque du Soleil Musique, the music division of Cirque du Soleil, will manage the creative and artistic production of this new venture. Production and promotional aspects will be managed by Clear Channel Entertainment.

      Scott Zeiger said, “We are very excited about presenting this new joint venture, and are thrilled to collaborate with a creative team of this caliber. We have always had great admiration for Cirque du Soleil’s artistic achievements, and are looking forward to bringing their innovative vision to a much larger audience across North America with this newly configured tour presentation.”

      “This new collaboration clearly demonstrates what Cirque du Soleil is looking for in building partnerships – leadership, open-mindedness and the willingness to develop creative-driven quality projects. Clear Channel Entertainment is most certainly one of those partners”, Daniel Lamarre said.

      Overseeing the project for Clear Channel Entertainment will be Executive Vice President, Creative Development, Jonathan Hochwald, and for Cirque du Soleil, Senior Vice President, New Ventures, Eric Fournier. Hochwald said, “This is a dream project for us – an opportunity to reinvent and re-imagine the arena experience and to introduce the genius of Cirque du Soleil’s artistic vision to new audiences who will discover the music of Cirque as they have never seen it.”

      “This new creative platform is the first step to a long-term relationship with Clear Channel Entertainment,” added Fournier. “Cirque du Soleil is truly expanding its creative force to other types of ventures with the simple objective of redefining existing entertainment formats with a Cirque du Soleil creative perspective.”

    On January 26, 2006, Delirium premiered at the Bell Center Arena in Montreal, ushering in a new type of Cirque du Soleil show. Not only would DELIRIUM be the first show outside Cirque’s normal acrobatic melieu, it was an experiment to see if the company could penetrate new, smaller markets simply by adopting a new way of touring. It was also a clever way to develop a knowledge based for an arena-based touring model without jeopardizing the brand value of Cirque’s current touring production assets. This would eventually give way to Saltimbanco’s, Alegría’s, Quidam’s and Dralion’s arena tours.

Quest For Balance

    Delirium was marketed as the quest for balance in a world that was “increasingly out of sync with reality, pushing the limits of arena performance through technical magnitude, human introspection and creative prowess.” It was an urban tale, a state-of-the-art mix of music, dance, theatre, and multimedia. Pumped by this re-energized Cirque du Soleil rhythm, the DELIRIUM tour transported audiences into a universe of delirious sensory folly.

    For the first time in Cirque du Soleil history, lyrics had been created for the instrumental tracks and real words integrated in place of invented language, bringing to the music a fresh poetic dimension. The texts were in English, French, Spanish, Wolof and Portuguese. Robbie Dillon, who contributed texts for Cirque du Soleil's ZUMANITY, composed the English lyrics for DELIRIUM. In all, 20 of Cirque du Soleil's most memorable musical moments originally created by René Dupéré, Benoît Jutras and Violaine Corradi were re-mixed by Quebec producer, composer and arranger Francis C ollard, who “deftly injected new life into these powerful classics.” The result was a hyper-energizing urban tribal beat that “exploded with electronic sounds, percussions and world rhythms.”

    And it seemed to be catching on.

    The show itself was an interesting hybrid; songs from Cirque shows played in a more “modern” fashion with English lyrics, a huge stage bisecting the arena (a la Corteo) on which the show played, multiple projections on the tall curtain screens on either side of the stage, mixed with a nebulous “plot” of a man searching for meaning. It was also the first time a Cirque show had an opening act, Canadian singer Nitza (later the vocalist for BELIEVE) who would play a 20-minute set of her own originals before DELIRIUM began.

    The show was also notable for its appearance on the charts! The Billboard Top Tours charts that is. DELIRIUM made it to #6 for 2006 and 2007. But in both cases it was not due to popularity or high ticket price but repetition – Delirium played many more performances during the year than any other show. So, though they had lower attendance per show at a reasonable ticket price, they made up for it in number of performances.

    On January 26, 2007, DELIRIUM celebrated its first birthday. Over that year the show’s 45 artists put on 162 performances for nearly a million spectators. They traveled across Canada and the United States with 22 tractor-trailers and 13 busses, making a total of 64 stops in 62 towns. Yes, DELIRIUM found success, but that didn’t mean it was immune to changes. In fact, it needed a little stream-lining. To make the show more flexible in terms of overall logistics, Cirque du Soleil’s Show Quality Service reviewed its format and changed its staging.

    Beginning January 27th, DELIRIUM presented itself on a slightly smaller stage (104 feet long instead of 130 feet) situated at one side of the venue in a more traditional theatre-style arrangement rather than long-ways, down the middle, splitting the audience in half. Other than allowing for a better seating arrangement, the new configuration also helped improve projection quality as images were projected from behind the screen rather than from in front as before. Since projections were an important part of the show, it was an undeniable improvement. The images were clearer, more intense and richer in color. With some of the acts having been modified as well, DELIRIUM re-configured itself to give spectators a more accessible, intimate experience, to ensure the show’s continued success (as well as preserve its artistic integrity).

    The new configuration would also help Cirque to present the show in Europe, making it easier to adapt to their smaller arena venues. After playing to North American audiences for more than a year, on September 13, 2007, DELIRUM opened in the Netherlands, kicking off its European tour. But after six and a half months, the tour seemed to run out of steam.

Delirium Unplugged

      “After having entertained millions of spectators, DELIRIUM began its final series of performances this week. DELIRIUM will be performed for the last time on the weekend of April 20, 2008, in London, UK. For two years, DELIRIUM visited dozens of cities across approximately 20 countries, and on two continents.” (Fascination! Newsletter)

    Why would Cirque du Soleil give up on their great experiment? According to them it was becoming increasingly challenging to find markets where the show could be presented.

    “The technical complexity of the show represented a significant challenge, particularly in Europe,” said Jacques Marois, Senior Vice-President of Touring Shows. With many European venues not necessarily suited for a show of DELIRIUM’s scale, Cirque was forced to make a decision: try and press on or close and call the experiment a success. “DELIRIUM gave us the chance to explore a world that was previously unknown to us and to visit markets that we could not have covered before,” Marois added. “In many ways, the DELIRIUM experience opened doors for Cirque and paved the way for our touring shows in this type of venue. Hats off to all the artists, artisans and employees who contributed to the success of this show!”

    DELIRIUM didn’t go without a fight.

    “According to the New York Times, SONY Pictures is tapping into the motion-picture theater exhibitions niche, currently serviced by Fathom Events, by creating a competing line of business. Cirque du Soleil fans may want to take notice, as this new unit will beam DELIRIUM, Cirque du Soleil’s musical experience, to movie theaters! DELIRUM’s final curtain was filmed in London and will also be released to DVD in the near future.” (Fascination! Newsletter)

      “We couldn’t be more delighted and proud to kick off our inaugural slate of Hot Ticket programming with Cirque du Soleil’s DELIRIUM,” said Rory Bruer, President of Domestic Distribution for Sony Pictures Releasing. “It’s the perfect marriage to have such a visually exciting multimedia show as DELIRIUM showcased in theaters in state-of-the-art high definition presentation. It is stunning to experience the show in this way and it sounds amazing. It’s truly the next best thing to being there and experiencing the show “live” and I believe audiences will be blown away by the incredibly creative and talented artists, acrobats and performers that make up the world renowned Cirque du Soleil troupe.”

      “We are happy to take this opportunity to bring the Cirque du Soleil experience to a new entertainment environment,” explained Jacques Methe, Executive Producer at Cirque du Soleil Images. “We believe that DELIRIUM in HD will offer audiences a memorable experience in movie theaters because of its magnitude, the energy of the performers and the diversity of its music going from percussion to electronic music.” Said David Mallet, director of the film, “I am really happy with this one-of-a-kind production since the use of twenty cameras allowed us to both capture the spectacular scale and nature of the show along with the incredible skill and intimate interaction of the fabulous Cirque du Soleil artists. This unique cinema experience will be a delight for the viewers.”

# # #

DELIRIUM was filmed during its last stop at the London O2 Arena, and though plans were to release a DVD of the performance some time thereafter, they never came to pass. Why? We asked Daniel Lamarre that in an interview in 2010:

“There’s no plan for that now,” Mr. Lamarre responded. “The problem is that we are creating and producing so many shows at such a rapid pace that we don’t want to have too many DVDs in a market where DVDs are getting tougher and tougher to sell. The DVD market is decreasing at a very rapid pace, so it’s a business decision to not bring out too many DVD’s. And if I’m bringing [out a] DVD, I want the DVD [to be] of an actual [current] show, to help promote the show. And since Delirium is no longer in presentation it isn’t a priority of ours.”

So DELIRIUM had quietly faded away... until more recently.

In August 2013, Gravitas Ventures struck a deal to become the exclusive Video-on-Demand (VOD) distributor of a variety of Cirque du Soleil programs, which include performance specials featuring the live shows as well as behind-the-scenes documentaries. One of those titles happens to be DELIRIUM as filmed at the London O2 Arena and distributed theatrically via Sony's Hot Ticket network. The performance is available to rent or to own through Amazon Prime and Apple’s iTunes, and through Hulu’s streaming television service.

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