Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O’ show in Bellagio Fountains canceled

Fountains of Bellagio
The Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas opened in October 1998.
(MGM Resorts)

Cirque du Soleil‘s “O” and the Fountains of Bellagio opened 21 years ago in Las Vegas. Planned celebrations with shows featuring Cirque performers splashing around the famous fountains on two weekends were canceled.

The plan was to host free “O” shows on a September weekend, and again this Saturday and Sunday. The September shows were canceled because of “unforeseen circumstances,” according to an email from the Bellagio hotel-resort. No further reasons were given for the recent cancellation.

The shows were designed to be a spectacle that anyone on The Strip could watch for free.

Here’s what was supposed to happen: “We will be coming out in a parade,” said Tony Ricotta, “O’s” senior company manager. “There’ll be performers on the street meeting the guests personally. The artists [in the fountains] will come in on many of our floating props. They will surround the stage to create a tableau.”

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Saturday shows were supposed to feature an all-female cast performing a type of hand balancing known as banquine; Sunday shows were supposed to feature a group of contortionists.

Cirque du Soleil's "O"
Acrobats from “O” leap into a pool of water during one of the show’s acts. Performers will leap into the 14-feet-deep lake at the Fountains of Bellagio on upcoming weekends.
(Tomasz Rossa)

Ten-minute acts with “O” performers will take place in the fountains as well as on a purpose-built stage starting at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 and 29, and Oct. 12 and 13. (Plan to find a spot on the sidewalk along Las Vegas Boulevard well before show time).

Cast members from “O,” which has been playing in Las Vegas for 21 years.
(Tomasz Rossa)

How did the show-in-the-fountains idea come about?

“When Cirque du Soleil brought it forward to us, I was actually a little bit upset with myself that I hadn’t thought of this idea 15 years ago,” said Jenn Michaels, MGM Resort’s senior vice-president of public relations. “It was a very easy ‘yes.’”

MGM Resorts International rarely allows special events in the fountains.

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Over the past two decades, Britney Spears, Cher and Panic at the Disco have performed in front of the more than 1,200 dancing fountains. Richard Branson was allowed to zip around the fountains’ “lake” on a personal watercraft in 2010, and the fountains turned pink for a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot in 2004.

“It’s the only time that we’ve changed the color of the fountains,” Michaels said. “That one required divers putting pink gels over every individual light in the fountains. … It was very, very, very time-intensive.”

Fountains of Bellagio
Earlier this year the fountains were set ablaze for a promotion related to “Game of Thrones.”
(Denise Truscello/Getty Images for MGM Resorts)

More fountains fodder: Bellagio’s water works formed the backdrop for the final scene of 2001’s “Oceans 11,” and were set ablaze as part of a flashy promotion for the final season of the “Game of Thrones” series.

“I don’t know if any of us ever could have expected [the fountains] would be the worldwide phenomenon that it is,” Michaels said. “I really believe it’s the most recognizable icon that there is, for sure, of Las Vegas — and certainly one of the most photographed attractions around the world.”

There’s one more fountain-centric tribute coming up Oct. 18. The Rembrandts’ song “I’ll Be There for You,” better known as the theme song from “Friends,” will play to observe the 25th anniversary of the popular TV sitcom.

During scheduled times, the fountains move to the music of more than 30 famous songs, including “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga, “Luck Be a Lady” by Frank Sinatra, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” by The Beatles, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley.