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Zoppe Family Circus
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Zoppe Family Circus

Presented by the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. 

Venue: Great Green


* Fees will be assessed on phone and online orders. Learn more...

An Italian Family Circus

The Zoppè Family Circus emerged from humble beginnings more than 160 years ago to become one of the legendary circuses in all of Europe. And like many good legends, it began with a boy and a girl falling in love.

In 1842, a young French street performer named Napoleone Zoppè wandered into a plaza in Budapest, Hungary, looking for work. There, his eyes glanced upon a beautiful equestrian ballerina named Ermengilda, who captured the hearts and minds of the crowd with her grace and showmanship. More importantly, this talented beauty captured Napoleone’s heart.

However, since Napoleone was a clown, Ermengilda’s father saw him as beneath her and disapproved of their relationship. The two ran away to Venice, Italy, and founded the circus that still bears their name. Over the generations, the circus survived wars and political upheaval in Italy and the rest of Europe.

Alberto Zoppè, Napoleone’s great-grandson, inherited the circus almost 100 years later. A grand equestrian in his own right, Alberto toured Europe with the circus since his youth, forging many unique friendships along the way, including one with famed actor/director Orson Welles.

Welles, who was working in Rome at the time, persuaded Alberto to take a role in a small film about the circus being shot in London. Alberto was then offered a job by John Ringling North of Ringling Brothers fame, who was putting together the circus acts for Cecil B. Demille’s Oscar-winning film, The Greatest Show on Earth. Alberto was hesitant to leave his family circus in Italy for America, but North was persistent and offered to loan the family circus an elephant for the show as long as Alberto
worked for him. He obliged and was prominently featured in the film.

Alberto would remain in America, producing circuses for Ringling and starting his own family. Together with his wife Sandra, Alberto has ushered in a new generation to continue the family tradition. Their children, Giovanni, Tosca, and Carla, along with their spouses, have all been active at one time or another in the family business. Giovanni revived the Zoppè Family Circus in America six years ago and has since been building its reputation with audiences and critics as an enchanting exhibition of traditional European circus.

Giovanni credits his family with helping to maintain the grand traditions. He is especially grateful to his father, who performed with the circus into his eighties and managed to wow the crowd every time he stepped into the ring.

Buy Tickets

Member pre-sale begins on May 15th at 12:00PM.

Become a member today and get the best seats in the house! Click here to join today.

General public sale beings May 18th at 12:00PM.

Tickets are $40 for Front Row, (chair seating)

$25 for other rows(bleacher seating), $20 Child tickets available in bleacher seating(must purchase at CCAE Box Office or call 1-800-988-4253 for child discount)

Buy tickets online (below), or at the Center ticket office, or by calling 800.988.4253. The ticket office is open Tue. – Sat. 12–6 PM, and Sun. 12–5 PM.

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