Viva Las Vegas, Part V: O, The Shows!

Bellagio carousel in the Botanical Gardens –

In addition to celebrating my daughter’s 21st birthday, a primary reason for our journey to Las Vegas was the anticipated rapture of a Celine Dion concert.  While I admit to listening to some of her music, I would not necessarily have traveled half way across the country for a pop-star concert.  Nonetheless, my daughter thrilled at the thought of her idol performing live at The Coliseum in Caesar’s Palace.

The Forum Shops, Caesar’s Palace –

After a delicious dinner at Bellagio’s Circo, we took a cab over to The Coliseum.  Our center-stage seats boded well for viewing Celine Dion and her 31-piece orchestra.  I suspected the concert would be good, but I could not have envisioned how good.  The variety of music [Celine scats!], the musicians [particularly the cellos medley of Michael Jackson songs], Celine’s gowns, the lighting, but mostly, her soaring voice accompanied by the sonorous sounds of those 31 musicians.

Bellagio mosaic tile floor –

Cirque du Soleil O, Bellagio’s in-house attraction, was astounding.   One’s senses cannot resist O’s ethereal experience.  O is performed primarily in water, with Cirque’s amazing performers’ synchronized swimming, high diving, aerial acrobats artists performing without safety nets.  The effect is spellbinding.  The fire-twirlers and the clowns on their leaky houseboat mesmerized us.  Singers and rhythm musicians added to the otherworldly aura of Cirque du Soleil O.  A Punchinello-like artist played a ghostly song on a grand piano while his female companion draped herself over the piano’s side.  As we watched, the floor parted and slowly the artists and piano disappeared under the water.

The stage itself was an integral element in O’s performance. Sometimes a floor gradually covered the water to create a “land” configuration.  Out of the depths of the water appeared artists engaged in synchronized ballet.  Three high divers took breath-taking dives simultaneously into the pool from the high top.

For me, the two aerial performers enthralled with their artistry.  One held on to both sides of the trapeze while holding under her feet the head and the lower torso of the other artist lying horizontally across her feet.  They held this position not just for a few moments; rather they lingered, gazing at one another, balancing lyrically as the music played until dissolving their positions.  The denouement occurred when another solo aerial artist balanced on her head waving her legs in a sort of deconstructed dance in the air as the trapeze swung to and fro.

The Fountains of Bellagio –

As we filed out of the Cirque du Soleil O theater, we agreed that after witnessing the artistry and athleticism of Cirque’s poetry in motion O show, the performers demonstrated Olympian feats in a mystical show.  Like Celine Dion, the O performers are in a class by themselves.

Ciao for now.

Viva Las Vegas, Part IV: Dining in Style

Original Picasso painting at Picasso –


Captivating aspects of travel include partaking of the local cuisine.  Prior to our journey to the land of Las Vegas, I enlisted the help of a Bellagio Concierge.  Reservations were then made well in advance at Bellagio’s Picasso, Circo, and Todd English’s Olives. While the meals were all memorable, two out of the three proved to be our favorites.

Dinner at Picasso was not only superb, but a true gustatory experience.  Seated overlooking The Fountains, we savored delectable creations of Chef Julian Serrano such as Sauteed Ruby Red Shrimp [shrimp stacked and surrounded with zucchini, artichoke, tomato confit and piquillo pepper vinaigrette]; Roasted Tornado Loin of Colorado Lamb [with pisto, mint aioli, and tempura zucchini flower]; Sauteed Medallions of Fallow Deer [with spring truffles, white asparagus, and Zinfandel sauce; and scallops with mashed potatoes in a divine sauce.  Dessert too was pure poetry: Butterscotch Cream Cheese and Lime Tart [topped with toffee read pudding and rum ice cream].  The café au lait topped off a memorable dining experience.  Pleasing to the eye too was the eclectic floral arrangements on the dark wood sideboards enhanced the beauty of the surroundings.

In addition to the cuisine, the non-edible coup de grace of Picasso is the authentic Pablo Picasso artwork that covers the walls.  Large canvases watch diners feast on the French and Spanish-influenced cuisine of Picasso.  The china is fraught with Picasso drawings; each piece is different and makes for an artistic experience overall.  The Picasso ceramics displayed on a wall add to the aesthetic dining and art experience of the unique restaurant that bears the master’s name.

Another tremendous epicurean experience was at Circo, a Sirio Maccioni restaurant.   My parents cooked Southern Italian food, specifically Calabrese style, yet the regional Italian cooking of Tuscany is one I love.  My veneration of Tuscan cuisine was more than sated at Circo.  The imported fresh mozzarella from Italy’s Campagna province with yellow and red tomatoes topped with chopped fresh basil, made for an ambrosial Insalata Caprese. Spring truffles were in season, and the homemade Pappardelle with braised chicken was graced with liberal amounts of the delicate truffles.  The Fried Polenta Parmigiano and the piquant Insalata Misata [marinated Campari tomatoes, organic field greens, pecorino cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette] also enchanted our taste buds.

The Circo servers, Chris and Patrick, made much of Anjelia’s 21st birthday:  Since we were running short on time prior to a show, they asked that we return post-show for her special dessert.  We sprinted back into the restaurant after ten p.m., and our new friends served her up Panacotta [vanilla panna cotta with seasonal fruits of strawberries and blueberries] on a lovely Circo plate with “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate across it.  Tiramisu Tradizionale and a cup of caffe latte rounded out our desserts as we watched the enchanting Lago di Bellagio Fountains from our same table.

Circo’s charming décor brings a smile to one’s face:  It is designed as a high-end European circus motif with a breath-taking big top on the ceiling.  Along with the fine wine and food, Circo, like Picasso, proved to be a Bellagio haunt to which we will return.

Caprese salad with imported fresh mozzarella at Circo