'La Perle' Dubai pays tribute to founder Franco Dragone, who has died aged 69

The theatre director created the dreamlike experience to embody the spirit of the emirate, ushering in a new era of live entertainment in the region

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The team behind stage show La Perle have paid tribute to the spectacle's creator Franco Dragone, who died last week aged 69.

The Italian-born theatre director, who made his name by creating some of Cirque du Soleil’s most successful shows, is reported to have died in Cairo of a heart attack.

Dragone was the creative mind behind Dubai’s hugely popular La Perle aquatic show, which last month celebrated its fifth anniversary.

On Monday, the La Perle team expressed their gratitude for his “beautiful creations”.

“It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of the creator of La Perle, Franco Dragone.” the team said in a statement.

La Perle would like to express our gratitude for the overflowing messages of support and admiration for Franco as we are all greeted with memories of working alongside him or experiencing his beautiful creations.

“Franco Dragone worked alongside Al Habtoor Group chairman, Mr Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, to create the living installation La Perle here in Dubai in 2015. Together, they envisioned a poetic, emotional and dreamlike experience that would embody the spirit of Dubai to present a new era of live entertainment in the region.

“Franco believed that in this creative life, creation requires courage. We encourage all of you to carry on with this visionary legacy that will lead to new discoveries, new methods, new outlooks and surprise within and beyond the stage.”

Dragone directed almost all of Cirque du Soleil's shows between 1985 and 1998, before branching out on his own to create shows around the world. He was instrumental in the fusion of acrobatics and theatre into live stage performances, and worked with a number of stars on their shows, including Celine Dion’s record-breaking Las Vegas concert residency 'A New Day...'.

Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberte paid tribute to his “dear friend”.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of your departure ... From the first day we met at Cirque du Soleil in 1985, through our many creative encounters, we have dreamed together and had the chance and pleasure to realise some of our wildest dreams,” he said.

“Creation is a phenomenon that comes from the heart, a language that you, the great romantic and committed artist that you were, knew well. I feel privileged to have been able to develop this creative complicity and friendship with you over the years. To have inspired you and to have been inspired by you …”

Updated: October 03, 2022, 8:51 AM