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Queen Celine: Celine Dion Bids Adieu

By Mark Gray
Photos by Denise Truscello

She’s Las Vegas royalty. Sixteen years ago, Celine Dion rolled the dice and opened a residency while in the prime of her career. She not only hit the jackpot with two hugely successful Caesars Palace shows, but also paved the way for other artists who entertain in Las Vegas today. Now, as she steps away, she talks proudly of her accomplishments on The Colosseum stage and about her plans for the future.

Just months before the final curtain closes on Celine Dion’s groundbreaking residency at The Colosseum, one she began in March 2003, she already knows how she’s going to feel when June 8 arrives.

“I know that I’m going to be very nervous, and it will definitely be bittersweet,” she said. “When you do a long run such as the one we’ve been doing, you become family with your musicians, your technical crew, and with all the people who work at the theater that you see every day. I’ll miss seeing these people.”

When Dion began her A New Day… residency, all those years ago, it was a real gamble. Would this style of residency show work? Would The Colosseum, which was being built for her show, prove to be as magical as everyone hoped? Well, 16 years and over 1,100 shows later, these questions are laughable.

“Sometimes I joke about this on stage, saying that I was only supposed to be here for a few months, and here we are sixteen years later, what happened!” she said. “I honestly didn’t think about how long we’d be here when we first started. I figured a few years, for sure, but I never imagined it being this long.”

Celine Dion

Celine Dion on the opening night of her show at Caesars Palace. Photo By Denise Truscello.

LAS VEGAS LEGACY

Throughout her incredible run, Dion has dealt with both triumph and tragedy onstage, often discussing her personal life with her audiences, thus making them feel as if they’re family members. She joyfully took the stage to debut her Celine show five months after her twin boys, Eddy and Nelson, were born in 2010; she took the stage five weeks after her beloved husband, René Angélil, passed away in January 2016, telling the audience that he would have wanted her to continue; and she solemnly sang her heart out just two days after 58 people died in a horrific mass shooting at an outdoor music festival in
Las Vegas. Her performance helped comfort a wounded city.

Still, through all of that, Dion points to that very first show in 2003 as her single most memorable performance.

“I’ve had so many memorable experiences at The Colosseum throughout the years, but I have to say the performance that I remember the most is the very first one that we did when we opened the theater in March 2003 for A New Day…,” she said. “It was both exciting and nerve-wracking. We had technical issues, wardrobe issues, including going onstage without my shoes, which my brother finally brought out to me. But in the end, we had a great show, a very memorable show.”

However, regardless of how may times Dion has taken the stage, some things never change.

“I must admit that I’m always nervous before every show. It doesn’t matter how many shows I’ve done, I’m still nervous,” she said. “So, when I come out and do my first song, and I hear the audience respond favorably, it helps me to calm down—doesn’t mean it’s my favorite part of the show, but it’s definitely a good moment.”

Dion may have been born in Quebec, Canada, but she’ll always be Las Vegas’ favorite adopted daughter. She easily has a place on the pantheon of Las Vegas entertainment, along with legends like Elvis Presley and The Rat Pack.

“Elvis and Frank Sinatra were two of René’s favorite artists, and they were two of the greatest entertainers this world has ever known, so to be included in their company humbles me,” she explained.

Celine Dion

Celine Dion celebrates her 1,000th show at The Colosseum in 2017. Celine Dion wraps up her final shows at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on June 8, 2019. Photo By Denise Truscello.

FUTURE PLANS

Even though Dion is ending her Las Vegas show, she doesn’t plan on riding off into the sunset. She’s currently working on a new album that she expects to release in 2019. She will also continue to work on Celinununu, a gender-neutral children’s clothing line she launched in November 2018.

“We’re just getting started. We’ve created a whole new product line which will evolve and grow over the seasons,” she said of the collection. “We’re getting great feedback. It’s going really well.”

When it comes to her own children, it’s likely they won’t notice a change in their mom’s workload.

“Well, my eldest René-Charles, just turned 18 in January, so he’s starting to spread his wings a lot more. At that age, as you know, they tend to do their own thing,” she said. “As for the twins, Nelson and Eddy, they don’t really have an eye on my schedule. Even when I’m doing my shows at The Colosseum, I’m with them every day so I don’t know if they’ll see much of a difference.”

Celine Dion

Celine Dion wraps up her final shows at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on June 8, 2019. Photo By Denise Truscello.

Of course, this won’t be the first time that Dion has stepped away from The Colosseum stage. In December 2007, she ended her A New Day… residency after a five-year run. She then returned in 2011 with her current Celine show. She’s even keeping the door open for a potential return sometime in the future.

“I’ve loved doing shows at The Colosseum. It’s a beautiful theater. It’s very intimate, which means that I can be close to my audiences, and I love that,” she said. “I haven’t even left yet, so it’s a bit too early for me to be thinking about returning. But it feels like home, so I would never say never!” In the meantime, though, there are quite a few others who she’d love to see in a Las Vegas residency.

“My list would be too long,” she said. “I had the privilege of seeing Frank Sinatra on The Strip. That was amazing. I’d love to see all my favorite artists doing shows in Las Vegas, then I could see them all — Adele, Terence Trent D’Arby, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Sia, Annie Lennox. I’ll stop there, but I could go on.”

Her advice to anyone who wants to carry the Vegas residency torch: “I wish you all the best,” she said. “It’s a great privilege and honor to have people travel here to see you.

Celine Dion

Celine Dion wraps up her final shows at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on June 8, 2019. Photo By Denise Truscello.

HUMBLE AND PROUD

When it comes to Las Vegas shows, Dion is in a league of her own. The fact that she’s dominated the Las Vegas music scene for the better part of two decades isn’t lost on her.

“I’ll always be proud of what we accomplished here, and forever grateful to everyone involved,” she said. “It was René’s vision and dream for me to be able to headline in Las Vegas, and it makes me very happy that we were able to fulfill his dream. I’ve met some wonderful people along the way.”

She continued, “I’ve had great partners with AEG and Caesars, and The Colosseum has truly been my home away from home. This whole experience has been a huge part of my show business career, one that I’ll always cherish.”

Obviously, June 8 is the end of an era. It will be a big day for Dion, an emotional day, no doubt. In the ensuing months, Dion will certainly have plenty of time to reflect on what she accomplished in Las Vegas. So, what are her immediate plans once The Colosseum curtain closes, potentially for the last time? It doesn’t take her long to ponder that one, laughing, “I’m definitely going to sleep in on June 9!”

CELINE DION’S FINAL SHOWS

MAY 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 31
JUNE 1, 4, 5, 7, 8

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