Cavalia’s Odysseo is such an incredible live spectacular that attendees usually come away from a performance focused on the skill displayed by the acrobats, equestrians, and horses themselves that make up the show’s cast. Odysseo recently set up shop in the Seattle area, opening February 19, 2014 (see review for more info) at Redmond’s Marymoor Park for a run that will take it into mid-March. But one of the less talked about aspects of the show is its music.
For two hours, audiences are captivated by the feats of athleticism and the majesty of its 66 horses. Accompanying the action is a seamlessly integrated score. It’s so effectively blended that many viewers seem to miss the fact that live musicians are performing the music as the show unfolds. Michel Cusson not only composed and produced the rousing music, he also handles guitar, piano, and various keyboards on the soundtrack album.
For those who have seen Odysseo, the album is a terrific way to take a piece of the show with you. Like the best film scores, the dozen tunes on the hour-plus disc not only evoke memories of the show, they also stand on their own. The score blends elements of jazz, ambient, new age, and various types of world music. The results are highly listenable. Most of it is instrumental, featuring the propulsive rhythm section of drummer Eric Boudreault and bassist Eric Auclair.
In addition to Cusson’s guitar and keys, Stephane Allard adds violin as another featured solo instrument. Michel Dubeau contributes a variety of woodwinds, including soprano saxophone, flutes, and the dark shades of the Armenian duduk. There are a few vocal-based pieces, three of which are graced with esoteric lyrics sung (in Italian) by Claudia Paganelli. “Dounya” was penned by Guinean performer Yamoussa Bangoura (who also handles the vocals on the track).
Among the lyricists is Odysseo’s creator and artistic director, Normand Latourelle. The impressionistic words are actually quite an apt fit for the surreal atmosphere of the show itself. “Carosello” speaks of “navigating the galaxies” and “angels dancing,” vague images married to an enchanting melody. The title track is about the “voice of the wind” telling a “dream of Odysseo.” The melodies are strong, the arrangements inventive, and the playing tastefully passionate.
Michel Cusson’s original soundtrack for Cavalia’s Odysseo is available at the Cavalia Boutique website.