A Daring Mix of Circus, Opera, Dance and Social Commentary

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Circa brings 'Il Ritorno' to Cal Performances. (Photo: Courtesy of Circa)

Here's a new recipe: What do you get when you mix circus arts, opera, and theater? The answer is Circa, the daring Australian circus troupe led by director Yaron Lifschitz, who's made it his life's work to see circus acknowledged as a real art form.

Circa's newest show tells the story of The Odyssey, Homer's ancient tale of the warrior Ulysses (also known as Odysseus) trying to get home to his son and wife Penelope. Lifschitz mixes the circus with dance and music from Monteverdi’s opera Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, performed by a string quartet — and two singers who have to dodge the tumbling performers. Under Lifschitz's direction, Il Ritorno is also a story about refugees and their struggle to find a home.

Circa is known for its raw physicality, so members of the troupe sometimes perform despite injuries, and adjust the show as needed. It's powerful drama that runs Jan. 26 at the Mondavi Center in Davis and Feb. 2 and 3 at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. Details here.