Italian-born director Franco Dragone, forever associated with Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion, died Friday in Cairo, Egypt, following a heart attack. He was 69 years old.
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“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Franco Dragone,” Cirque du Soleil said in a statement. Our hearts go out to his friends, family and the entire Dragone organization. Franco was an industry icon. Responsible for some of our most iconic productions, including “Nouvelle Expérience”, “Alegría”, “Mystère”, “O” and “La Nouba”, he has contributed invaluably to the success of Cirque du Soleil. His passing is a great loss not only for his loved ones, but also for the industry. As a mark of respect, the performance of [vendredi] evening shows “Mystery” and “O” in Las Vegas will be dedicated to him.
Franco Dragone also worked with Celine Dion for her first show in Las Vegas, “A New Day”, launched in 2003, and took part in the festivities surrounding the 400th anniversary of Quebec City, in 2008, by staging “Le Potager des visionnaires on the roofs and terraces of the Musée de la civilization de Québec.
Franco Dragone discovered Quebec in 1982, 40 years ago. He had offered internships at the National Circus School in Montreal. The founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté, noticed him very early on and made him a leading collaborator within his organization founded in 1984.
Franco Dragone had created his own show and events company, Dragone, based in Belgium, where his parents raised him from the age of 7 when they migrated to this country.
In recognition of his contribution to the culture and recent history of Quebec, Franco Dragone was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec 20 years ago.
Note that in 2016, the name of Franco Dragone was named among many personalities involved in the Panama Papers scandal. Media like “Paris Match” quoted Friday that since 2012 he had been “the subject of a judicial investigation in Mons for tax evasion, money laundering and corruption”. Indicted in December 2015 in this case, the legal proceedings should continue despite his death.