Diva Las Vegas

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The nearly complete version of A New Day that TIME saw in late February is narrative free. The show opens with Dion singing Nat King Cole's Nature Boy in a solitary spot, then segues into a series of increasingly colorful, abstract production numbers. Dion is at center stage for some songs and hovers at the edges during others while an usher character provides comic relief. The dancers — with moves veering from Flashdance to Fonteyn — are electric. The LED screen provides crisp and dynamic scenery. Dion's voice sounds fantastic.

Like O and Moulin Rouge — other pieces of abstract, musical pop art — A New Day aims for the inchoate territory between the coherent and the impenetrable. It is seldom obvious (there are no Titanic dancers jumping into gilded lifeboats during My Heart Will Go On — just a giant, solitary moon), but then it is seldom really understandable. As Dragone says, A New Day is vaguely about love. Specifically, it's about very well-sung songs animated in an oddly compelling fashion by immensely talented people.

If the show doesn't exactly make sense, Dion believes her decision to stop touring, drop everything and move to Las Vegas is perfectly logical. "People think that my husband is going to lose all of my money and that my son is being raised by a lot of people who are not me, and it's not true," says Dion. "We don't live in a casino, and I am not going to change diapers on a craps table." In fact, her home is 17 miles from the Strip, in Lake Las Vegas, and the show has given her schedule a rare dose of stability. "When the show starts, I'm going to leave home at 4:30 and come home by 10:30," she says. "My son is a night bird, so he's going to wait for us. It's a very easy life."

Dion is worried that the demands of 200 shows a year may affect her voice (she had a vocal-cord scare in 1990), but Caesars Palace has done everything it can to make her comfortable. The Colosseum has a private elevator for her use, a below-stage, eight-room suite exclusively for her family and a $2 million atmospheric bubble that keeps the onstage humidity at a constant 55%. "I think it's the first theater constructed just for singers," says Dion. "And really, I'm singing for only an hour and a half. They don't want the show to exceed that because they want people to go back and lose money." To a casino, that's a sound even sweeter than Dion's voice.

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