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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Zoppé Italian Family Circus

Unplug, sit back and enjoy life, family and circus -- the way it used to be!

In 1948, Alberto Zoppé left his native Italy for America, bringing with him a family tradition that dates back to 1842. Today, Alberto’s son Giovanni is the sixth-generation driving force and impresario behind Zoppé, one of the last, old-world, family-run touring circuses. “We are a circus by family, for families,” Giovanni said.

E & M Presents brings this charming, entertaining and unique experience for families of all ages back (by popular demand) to the Napa Valley Expo on Oct. 4, 5, and 6. For tickets and information, visit or call 707-224-4353. Special discounts apply for kids 12 and under, seniors, veterans and groups of 10 or more. Children two and under are free (on laps).

A wealth of surprises await audience members as Zoppé Circus pays tribute to women’s courage, strength and beauty in “La Nonna” (the grandmother) – a nod to the family matriarch whose tenacity kept the circus alive in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Carrying on the family tradition, 16 year-old Chiara Zoppé, a performer in her own right, is making her directing debut in the creation of this new show.

Women steal the spotlights in “La Nonna.” Ring Mistress Aimee Klein will don the Master of Ceremonies’ hat, welcoming a national, international and multi-lingual cast to center ring. “In keeping with our theme, we have the first-ever, all-female Cossack riding act and a trapeze troupe with all-female flyers,” said Jeanette Prince, Marketing and Promotions Manager for the circus.

“All of our women are working just as expected from performers in the past to put up and take down the tent in every location. Often backbreaking work, these women have risen to the challenge of stepping over an invisible barrier into all parts of the circus world.”

Other acts on the roster include: acrobats; tight wire walkers; contortionists; Carla Zoppé and husband Rudy Heinin, eager to show off their skillful canines; plenty of antics by Nino the Clown; and lots of audience participation -- a hallmark of Zoppé Circus.

When you pass through the flaps of the intimate, 500-seat Zoppé Circus tent, you’re walking into a different world where anything can happen. The tent has a soul. You can smell the sawdust. You may hear the performers speaking English, French, Italian or Spanish. When the horses circle the ring, you can feel the air change and catch the wind their collective galloping creates. The tent’s environment is built for fun and entertainment, and no seat is more than 25 feet from the action.

“Things are happening inside our tent that are impossible,” said Giovanni. “It broadens the imagination, it broadens the joy of life.”

“One of the most rewarding aspects of bringing Zoppé back to Napa,” said Evy Warshawski, co-director of the nonprofit, E & M Presents, “is that thanks to grants and contributions from our generous community partners, we are able to offer free tickets to kids and families who could not otherwise attend due to economic hardships. Through no fault of their own, many of these young people – and their parents or guardians -- are denied the pleasures of live performance. Having them in the tent participating as audience members is, we hope, fun and inspiring.”

A New York Times review said it best: The Zoppé Circus evokes something from a picture book: the clown, the trapeze, the dancing dogs, the ring and the tent. The show is frozen in time … exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

Back by popular demand

Napa Valley Expo Oct. 4, 5, & 6th

Visit EANDMPRESENTS.ORG for tickets


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