Linda Catalano is The Spiegeltent Manager for 2013, and while it’s her job to be excited about the festivities, there’s a sense of wonder and enchantment in her eyes that cannot be faked. “The Famous was built in 1920, and it travels around the world,” she says. “There are quite a few Spiegeltents around the world, but The Famous is one of the only original ones.”

Originally built as a travelling dance hall, cabaret salon and party venue in Europe, ‘The Famous’ now tours the world, stopping off in Melbourne each February. It is an enchanting structure - you can feel the weight of ten thousand late nights when you walk inside, evoking stories of love, passion and debauchery from Europe in the 1920s. It’s a particularly bespoke building too, and as Catalano explains, they just don’t design things like The Famous anymore. “All the bits of The Famous Spiegeltent fit together without a single nail,” she says. “Spiegel means mirror, so it is literally a wooden tent of mirrors.”

With every New Year comes a new direction, and Catalano is determined to put on the most elaborate party to date. “What you’re looking for is people that have a virtuosic talent, because people that come to The Spiegeltent are coming for discovery,” she says when I quiz her about this years’ performers. “People are expecting to see some familiar faces, but because of the space, those familiar faces need to be doing things that they wouldn’t do in another theatre.”

For Catalano, the performers just add to the magic that already exists in the tent. “My favourite moment of the day when the tent is up is the last moment,” she says. “I love watching all of the punters file out and then being the last one in the tent, watching the street lights shine through the stained glass windows. There is just something about the history of that tent that makes it really special, and I view my job as a great privilege.”

Here’s our list of Broadsheet’s must see acts of 2013:

Lior with Gian Slater and Invenio
Friday 1 – Sunday 3 March
Lior has long been associated with The Spiegeltent and this year is no exception. This year he will mix things up a bit, collaborating with Melbourne-based vocalist Gian Slater and her orchestral ensemble.

Miles & Simone
Saturday 9 of February, 2013
Miles O’Neil and Simone Page are distinguished musicians on their own, and they’ve brought their considerable experience together in this recent project. As the founding member of The Suitcase Royal, O’Neil is comfortable with audiences and adept at performing, while opera singer and cabaret performer Simone Page adds her laconic folk styling to O’Neil’s experimental performance work.

The Dark Party
Thursday 7 – Sunday 10 February; Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 February 2013
After triumphant seasons in France, Spain, Portugal and Holland, the Dirty Brothers Sideshow have decided to bring their visceral, punk-infused freak show down under in 2013.

Shep Huntly, The Great Gordo Gamsby and Pat Bath share a wealth of experience in sub cultural entertainment, and combine in this show to great affect. Beware, the show can be confronting, especially when the power tools come out for a cameo.

Jazz High Tea
Every Sunday, 3pm from 10 February – 21 April and various other dates during Spiegel season
One of the most family friendly and popular events at The Spiegeltent, the Jazz High Tea is on every Sunday for the duration of the program. Sparkling wine, freshly brewed tea and coffee and an assortment of cakes and treats adorn the tables, while guests watch a colourful line up of Australian jazz musicians.

Moriarty
Thursday March 14
If you’re looking for some entertainment in town on a Thursday evening, French band Moriarty always put on an inspired performance. And while their sound is inspired by depression era American folk and cabaret music, they add a French flavour to the performance, lead by enigmatic front woman Rosemary Standly.

The Famous Spiegeltent is on until 21 April, 2013 at the Arts Centre forecourt.

spiegel.artscentremelbourne.com.au