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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Giovanni Zoppé’s Real-Life Family Circus
At the Oklahoma State Fair, the Zoppé family’s intimate one-ring show is a marvel—and still winning fans after 170 years. Malcolm Jones reviews the spectacle.
 

Giovanni Zoppé dresses before a show.
(Kevin Sullivan / The Orange County Register-ZUMA Press)
by---Malcom Jones
from--- thedailybeast.com
Oct 21, 2012
Under a drizzling sky, a lone juggler dazzles a handful of people outside a stately white tent that rises miragelike on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Fair. A straight-faced clown in severe white makeup begins picking out a tune on an accordion as more people trickle in to watch. A couple of acrobats show off their flips and somersaults. The crowd swells, as the insistent tempo of the music lures in the curious. Then Giovanni Zoppé goes into his spiel.
“Welcome to our circus,” he says, his voice a little hoarse as he strains to be heard over the music and the murmur of the crowd. “Welcome to our family. Without family you don’t have circus, in our opinion. So on behalf of my family—my family is standing behind me, my family has been performing worldwide—we’d like to thank you for bringing your families here and helping us support this art form we call the family circus.”

He sounds ever so sincere when he beckons the now sizable crowd into the tent, saying, “Welcome to our home.” But you can’t help thinking that this is just his shtick—honeyed words to reel in the rubes.

The next hour will be spent eradicating that cynical suspicion
 
The Zoppé family circus performs in California.
(Kevin Sullivan / The Orange County Register-ZUMA Press)
First out is Giovanni’s mother, Sandra, an older woman all in black who again welcomes the audience surrounding the single sawdust ring. It is hard to make out exactly what she is saying, but her words act almost like an incantation. At the very least, she ignites your curiosity.

Then comes the spec, circus slang for the spectacle that opens the show. In the heyday of American circuses a century ago, the spec went on forever as the entire cast of aerialists, animal acts, and clowns paraded around under the big top. The Zoppé version is more modest, and much more mysterious.

A lone horse emerges and begins to canter around the ring. The horse is followed by Tosca Zoppé, his trainer, who guides him through his paces. It is a weirdly beautiful moment, simple but enchanting, like something out of a dream.
read more---
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/21/giovanni-zopp-s-real-life-family-circus.html

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