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For Immediate Release
Thursday August 23, 2012

Laura Longero

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Artown Encore Series and the Eldorado Presents the Zoppé Family Circus October 4 – 7

For 31 years, the Eldorado has brought the sights, sounds and flavors of Italy to downtown Reno during the Eldorado Great Italian Festival. The festival, held each year over Columbus Day weekend, is a celebration of Italian culture and traditions. This year, Artown Encore series and the Eldorado are pleased to bring a beloved Old-World tradition to the festival with the Zoppé Family Circus. Under an intimate 500 seat tent, this one-ring circus will enchant guests with acrobatic feats, equestrian showmanship, canine capers, clowning and plenty of audience participation when it comes to Reno October 4 through 7.

The Zoppé 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 Napoline Zoppé wandered into a plaza in Budapest, Hungary, looking for work. There, his eyes glanced upon a beautiful equestrian ballerina named Ermenegilda, who captivated the crowd with her grace and showmanship. More important, this talented beauty captured Napoline's heart. However, since Napoline was a clown, Ermenegilda'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 Zoppé, Napoline's great-grandson, inherited the circus almost 100 years later. A grand equestrian in his own right, Alberto toured Europe with the circus, 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 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 John Ringling North of Ringling Brothers fame 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. His son Giovanni revived the Zoppé Family Circus in America three years ago, and has since been building its reputation with audiences and critics as an enchanting exhibition of traditional European circus.

Be captivated by the Zoppé Family Circus during the Great Eldorado Italian Festival. Held under the big top at the Eldorado’s surface lot on Sierra and 4th Streets, performances are October 4 at 7 p.m., October 5 at 4 and 7 p.m., October 6 at 11 a.m., 4 and 7 p.m., and October 7 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale now - $24.95 for VIP seating, $19.95 for general admission and $12.95 for kids ages 2 to 11.

Set for October 6 and 7, the Great Eldorado Italian Festival transforms downtown Reno into Little Italy and includes a grape stomp, sauce cookers competition, an Italian farmer’s market, bocce ball, kids’ gelato eating contest, Italian Buffet and incredible  entertainment all weekend long. For more details, photos and other Italian Festival information visit or call 775-786-5700. The latest Eldorado updates are also available on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the Eldorado’s interactive iPhone and Android Apps.