Franco Dragone brings his splashy magic to Dubai

Story highlights

  • Franco Dragone is famous for his splashy, aquatic shows such as House of Dancing Water in Macau.
  • The Italian-Belgian dramatist was a key architect of the Cirque du Soleil phenomenon.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN)You may not know his name, but you've undoubtedly heard of his shows.

Franco Dragone was one of the key architects of Cirque Du Soleil's unique theatrical style. Between 1985 and 1998, the Italian-Belgian dramatist directed nearly all of the Canadian entertainment company's most prestigious shows.
Then in 2000, he left.
    Founding his own eponymous theater company, Dragone went on to create a live residency show for Canadian pop singer Celine Dion, and launch death-defying aquatic spectaculars in Macau and Las Vegas. Both became runaway hits.
    Today, the company says close to 100 million people have seen Dragone's heart-stopping work.
    And now for the first time, his magic is taking a permanent seat in the Middle East.

    The pearl of the Middle East

    On September 13, La Perle -- a show that took $400 million to bring to life -- had its world premiere in Dubai at the state-of-the-art, purpose-built theater of the same name, which holds 1,300 seats and will host 450 productions a year.
    The stage alone is an engineering feat, holding a colossal 2.7 million liters of recycled water -- enough to fill an Olympic pool -- which can be drained in less than a minute for land-based exploits.
    But it's the water stunts the crowds want -- performers flying across the stage at 15 kilometers an hour before diving from heights of 25 meters into the 860-square-meter pool and seemingly disappearing, only to return from land seconds later.
    Dragone is no stranger to the United Arab Emira