Zoppé Family Circus returns to Tucson with 'carnevale' experience

Zoppé Family Circus, which was founded nearly 200 years ago in Venice, Italy, has returned to Tucson for a 13th year, bringing joy and entertaining acts for people of all ages. 

The big top is located in the Mercado District, in the parking lot at the corner of Avenida del Convento and Congress Street. The circus will be in town until Sunday, Jan. 21.

“The most important thing to know about our show is that it is an intimate family experience,” circus co-director Jeanette Prince-Zoppé said. “Of course it’s entertaining, but more than that, it’s a story. And it’s a piece of art and history and a legacy that is seven generations deep. And all of that is brought forth into our intimate home-like setting.”

She said that when people come inside their “home… it feels small because it’s like we’re all together, they’re not farther away than 20 feet from the ring,” Prince-Zoppé said. The tent is 50 feet tall, she said.

The theme for the 2023-2024 season is “Carnevale di Venezia” and it draws from “commedia”— comedy —and the old world circus art form Zoppé is known for.

“It’s multi-faceted. It’s not just like we’re an old-fashioned show. It’s integrated into the lifestyle and to the person,” Prince-Zoppé said. “Our theme is ‘Carnevale di Venezia’ and we tried to help people feel like they were traveling. So, we give them passports at the beginning of their time with us. And we had a bridge built here locally at the beginning of our tour and so, they cross over the bridge and it’s these fun little things that are different from other years. And we brought costumes and masks back from Venice.”

The show includes traditional Venetian music and costuming, a dog and pony act, aerial arts, equestrian performance, a 500-year-old commedia act and more. Nino the Clown, who is played by director and performer Giovanni Zoppé, will lead the audience’s “travel” to the Carnevale. The ringmaster is actor and mime Mace Perlman.

“I hope that everyone takes from the show what they needed, maybe it would be inspiration or joy or connection,” Prince-Zoppé said.

The admission prices are $25 for general admission for all ages and $45 for ringside seating. Children three years of age or younger go in for free. The short programs – Friday 10 a.m. shows – are $15 for general admission and $30 for ringside seating.