Cirque du Soleil Director Michel Laprise on Soda Stereo Show Premiere: Exclusive

Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil/SEP7IMO DIA
Cirque du Soleil SEP7IMO DIA

“It has to be loud,” Laprise says of the show premiering March 9 in Buenos Aires

The Cirque du Soleil spectacular Sép7imo Día: No Descansaré premieres March 9 at Buenos Aires’ Luna Park stadium. It’s a huge show: after Sép7imo Día completes a three-month run of 5,000-capacity performances in Soda Stereo’s home town, a fleet of 20 trucks will carry the technical equipment for the tribute to the transcendent Argentine rock band -- which includes a custom crafted stage -- through Latin America. Five hundred thousand tickets have already been sold (fans bought 50,000 on the first day of sales in August.) More than 25 of the Buenos Aires dates are sold out.

Cirque has just announced shows in three Mexican cities late 2017. And U.S. shows have not been confirmed, but are expected.

True to the new acrobatic extravanganza’s rock roots, the ticket offerings include standing room on the floor -- the first time in the history of Cirque du Soleil that part of the audience will be standing, and even at times mixing with with the performing artists.

“Soda Stereo was known for loud music,” says Sép7imo Día director and writer Michel Laprise. “And it has to be loud.”

The show’s soundtrack of Soda songs was produced and remixed from original masters by band members Charly Alberti and Zeta Bosio. Soda frontman Gustavo Cerati, a legend throughout Latin America, passed away in 2014.

“I never met Gustavo Cerati but I think of him everyday,” Laprise, a Cirque veteran who also designed Madonna’s MDNA tour, said during a recent phone conversation from Buenos Aires.

Laprise talked to Billboard about creating a show inspired by the recollections of those who witnessed the band’s rise in the 1980s and by input from the trio’s subsequent generations of fans. While he refers to Sép7imo Día as a “surprise party” that will remain a secret until next week, he revealed some details about the event that's incredibly anticipated in Buenos Aires and beyond.

What people will the audience see when the lights go up in Buenos Aires on March 9?

Soda Stereo’s songs are very metaphorical. You’re not going to see a documentary on stage about Soda Stereo: we invented a complete world based on the songs. The prologue goes back in time, but then we go to 2007. We pick up the journey of Soda Stereo where it stopped in 2007, and then we continue.

It’s a show that’s based on the musical exploration of relationships, the relationships that people have with music and the band. We want to create a collective hallucination that’s visual and also vibrational. To me the relationship with music is so important and I am obsessed with it in this show. The visual part has to feel like music.

At this point, it’s still like a big surprise party for our friends.

You are a Cirque du Soleil veteran and you’ve worked with Madonna. But you are not a rock en español fanatic and you weren’t familiar with Soda Stereo before signing on to direct this show. What was your approach?

Within days of starting the project, the first thing I wanted to do was to go to Buenos Aires. I wanted to see where they grew up and where they performed.

I was asking people in the streets, taxi drivers, everyone, about Soda Stereo. And people were saying, “Soda’s music is the soundtrack of my life.” The relationship people have with their music is very deep and very emotional. And that really helped me give me the essence of this project.

Very often, you have such a deep relationship with music when you are around 16 or 17. There is that moment when you realize that things go wrong in a society and you want to change the world. Rock was and is feared by the political system; it’s the music of progress and change, and a lot of joy. Soda Stereo arrived right after the dictatorship [in Argentina]. They were on the cusp of the wave of self expression, of freedom. There could not be better timing for this than now.

How is that essence of the music expressed on stage?

The presence of acrobats on stage is stronger than any other art. You take risk. There is an element of concentration and also your relationship to the environment is very special. It’s a perfect match with the music.

It’s a show about music. We are doing it at night, and it’s so loud. We’ve never had such a strong sound. Usually when we do a show we have neighbors around the tent so we can’t push so hard. And in Vegas, older people, so no. But Soda Stereo was known for loud music. And it has to be loud. We have the quality of when you record in the studio but the feeling of live music. It was a lot, a lot of work for [Soda members] Charly and Zeta, and I’m so proud of the sound that they created. It feels like a live show, but polished like in a studio. I’m very proud of the sound; it’s very strong, it’s very physical.

Soda Stereo’s fans also influenced the making of Sep7imo Día. How did that work?

It was very important that we be humble about the fact that when we started this we were not experts.

It was important for the show to connect with the fans. We started Facebook Live sessions every month. There were 7-8,000 joining at first; then we had 80,000 people in one session.

We met with the fans through the whole creation process. We opened the door of the [Cirque] creation room for the first time ever. They were so involved. Some people made a painting and sent it to me, they did photos, they wrote poems. What people were sending about their wishes or feelings allowed me to take the pulse of the band. I showed the results to the creation team and they said, ‘this is the show we’re making.’ This was not a marketing thing, it was about the creation of the project.

Gustavo Cerati died in 2014. In a symbolic way, this show marks his return to the public. How would you say he is present in the production?

I never met Gustavo Cerati, but I think of him everyday.

I think his spirit is there. It’s not like a tribute, but at the same time I did not ignore [his death]. I really embraced the fact that he’s not there. At times in the show we acknowledge that he’s not there. But the great thing about artists is that they are eternal. And this show is about that too – music is eternal.

And music is a very powerful thing. Everyone is working very hard, harder than usual. I don’t think [with Cirque] we’ve worked this intensely before. But people have been waiting ten years for something from Soda, so we have to make it work.