Clownin’ around with the Zoppés |

Clownin’ around with the Zoppés

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Snowmass Tourism Public Relations Manager Patsy Popejoy said that "one of the most amazing things" about the Zoppé family circus is watching the tent go up on the Base Village lawn.
Zoppé Italian Family Circus/Courtesy photo |


What: Zoppé Italian Family Circus

When: Friday, Aug. 19 to Sunday, Aug. 21

Where: Snowmass Base Village

Cost: $20 for General Admission; $50 for V.I.P. seating; $70 for V.I.P. ringside seating; free for children ages two and under.

Tickets are available online or at the on-site box office one hour prior to each performance.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the 2016 Zoppé family circus in Snowmass, visit


-Friday: 2 to 4 p.m.; 7 to 9 p.m.

-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; 2 to 4 p.m.; 7 to 9 p.m.

-Sunday: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 3 to 5 p.m.

Think your family is a circus?

Meet the Zoppes, the European clan behind the 174-year-old Zoppe Italian Family Circus.

The story begins in Budapest, Hungary, back in 1842, when the young French street performer Napoleone Zoppe met and fell in love with an equestrian ballerina named Ermengilda.

Ermengilda’s father, however, disproved of Napoleone and his street-performing social status, according to Napoleone’s great-great-grandson, Giovanni Zoppe.

“Performing is our life and what we enjoy the most about life.”Giovanni Zoppe

The two fled the Hungarian capital and moved to Venice, Italy, and they started their own circus, said Giovanni, who stars as Nino the Clown in the modern-day circus performance.

For the Zoppes, the circus has been a true family affair since Napoleone and Ermengilda started the show nearly two centuries ago.

“Performing is our life and what we enjoy the most about life,” Giovanni said. “When we are not performing, we’re getting ready for next season.”


The Zoppe Italian Family Circus returns to Snowmass Village this weekend for its second season, drawing “one of the most diverse audiences of any of our summer events,” said Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello.

“There are lots of reasons we love the Zoppe circus, but to me the one that is super-special is that in addition to appealing to the Aspen and Snowmass community, this event attracts people from up and down the valley who don’t typically come to Snowmass,” Abello said, adding that the event “has such wide appeal” to multigenerational families.

“It is enjoyed by any age group from 1-year-olds to 80-plus-year-olds,” Snowmass Tourism public relations manager Patsy Popejoy said.

“The audience that attends the circus can feel the true passion and family connection of the performers,” Popejoy said. “The clowns are absolute professionals and appropriately slide in some adult humor, also, and get the entire audience to participate in their antics.”


With its rich history and longevity, the circus clan has entertained on every continent, Zoppe Italian Family Circus event producer Gina Hallisey said.

In March, Giovanni performed with Clowns Without Borders in El Salvador, and in June, he was one of five clowns invited to perform before Pope Francis at the Vatican as part of a “special circus dedication show,” he said.

In the U.S., the Zoppe family is known well on the East Coast, Hallisey said, and performs to sold-out audiences in Chicago and New York.


Throughout the past decade, the Zoppe troupe has expanded its show to the Western part of the country, Hallisey said.

The show now reaches Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and California, she said, adding that the family gains a more loyal following in these states each year.

“We absolutely love it here,” Giovanni said, referring to Snowmass Village. “It is such a magical and perfect place to put our circus.”

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