Cavalia’s ‘Odysseo’ dazzles Nashville

Majestic and mesmerizing, “Odysseo” is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

With 65 gorgeous horses, plus 50 multi-talented riders, acrobats, dancers and musicians, “Odysseo” made a marvelous Tennessee debut Wednesday — much to the delight of an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd.

Situated under the company’s signature “White Big Top,” this unique theatrical experience balances remarkable
equestrian arts with dazzling stagecraft and technical effects, taking us on a wondrous journey “from the African savannah to Nordic glaciers.”

Here are five unforgettable moments from the opening-night performance:

‘Fête du Village’

One of the first big scenes in Act I, “Fête du Village” brings together a dizzying array of stunts, from horses and high-flying acrobats to performers on spring-loaded jumping stilts. As the hurdles are raised higher and higher, this high-octane number sets the tone for an exciting evening. And while there’s no
particular narrative or story involved, there’s an unmistakable sense of joy behind the spectacle. These young performers clearly love what they do, and their passion is contagious.

‘Carosello’/’Les Anges’

Beyond the fantastic equestrian work, “Odysseo” offers some truly mesmerizing moments courtesy of the two legged performers. The dreamlike “Carosello” features a life-size carousel, which descends from the lofty ceiling, some 125 feet above the stage. Here, aerialists perform incredible feats of strength and balance, gliding and spinning with otherworldly grace.


Act I’s closing number offers some of the most spectacular trick riding you can imagine, with riders hanging off the side and swinging in and out of the saddle as their horses speed across the stage. In one particularly harrowing bit, a young woman balances precariously upside-down — her head barely clearing the
ground — in order to grab a couple of scarves.


A stunning “liberty” display, in which riderless horses respond to vocal commands, “L’Odyssée” kicks off Act II in grand style. The scene opens with dozens of horses lying down on an open “hillside,” slowly rousing themselves — stretching, rolling and frolicking about. Once up, they begin cantering, then galloping in unison, weaving in and out, in an intricate series of choreographed patterns.

One handsome fellow seemed determined to do his own thing Wednesday, but his patient trainer eventually guided him back into formation, eliciting cheers from the audience. It’s interesting to note that all of the music (composer Michel Cusson is an award-winning musician, music director and film composer) is played live, so that the vocalists and instrumentalists can accommodate the often-unpredictable action on stage.

‘La Grande Aventure’

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, 40,000 gallons of water rush the stage, creating a magical lake in which the horses are all too happy to splash and play. And as the entire company returns to the stage for a rousing, celebratory final scene, the audience is already on its feet.

Majestic and mesmerizing, “Odysseo” is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

What: Cavalia presents “Odysseo”
When: Through Sept. 17.
Where:Under the White Big Top, 2750 Pennington Bend Road (near Opryland by Briley Parkway, at Exit 12)
Tickets:Admission ranges from $49.50 to 129.50. Rendez-vous packages range from $199.50 to $249.50. Special pricing and packages also are available for groups, children (2-12), juniors (13-17) and seniors (65+). See website for full pricing details. or 1-866-999-8111