Roll up! Cirque du Soleil seeks to conquer Europe

Roll up! Cirque du Soleil seeks to conquer Europe
Photo: Rick Diamond for Cirque du Soleil/AFP
With somersaulting lizard-men and a soaked contortionist hand-standing in her underwear, international circus troupe Cirque du Soleil seeks to reconquer Europe with its latest tour launching in Madrid on Wednesday.
The Canadian entertainment giant, sold by its founder last month to US and Chinese investors, is looking to draw new crowds in a region just recovering from an economic crisis that has damaged its business.
It brings "Amaluna", a fairytale love story inspired by Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and Mozart's "The Magic Flute" to the Spanish capital at the start of a two-year European tour.
Sailors shipwrecked on an enchanted island encounter Valkyries, Amazons, lizards and other characters who juggle and soar through the air to a hard-rock score, one contortionist plunging into a giant water bowl.
Founded in 1984 by stilt-walker and fire-breather Guy Laliberte in his native Quebec, Cirque du Soleil has grown into a globalised circus phenomenon.
It has run into financial trouble in recent years, however, and posted a loss in 2012 for the first time.
Laliberte announced on April 20 he was selling a controlling stake to American private equity firm TPG and Fosun of China to fund "the next stage in its evolution". The investors said they were looking to crack the Asian market.

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