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Dion set to shine on night of stars

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-07 03:13

Celine Dion has spent hours rehearsing a popular folksong to help China bring in a new year with a landmark gala performance.

The global star, with a little help from her friends, has mastered the intricacies of Jasmine Flower, or Mo Li Hua.

Dion set to shine on night of stars

Global star Celine Dion will give the gala audience a night to remember.

World-famous Chinese soprano Song Zuying was one of those friends. Dion will perform with Song at the 2013 CCTV Spring Festival Gala, which will be held on Saturday. It's the first time an international star has been invited to the event.

The singer will also sing her signature tune, My Heart Will Go On, from the blockbuster film, Titanic.

The CCTV Spring Festival Gala has been held every year since 1983 and is broadcast live to the world on the Lunar New Year's Eve.

A billion people are expected to tune in for what has become a well-established tradition.

The gala attracts the world's largest TV audience for a show of its type.

For more than four hours, a variety of acts, including singing, acrobatics, magic and comedy sketches, will provide family entertainment.

However, the tradition is facing challenges as younger viewers are increasingly losing interest in the show. During the past few years, some of China's most popular entertainers, such as veteran comedian Zhao Benshan, have withdrawn from the show, and audiences have registered their disappointment.

Bringing international artists like Dion onto the stage is a possible way of winning back younger viewers.

The people responsible for Dion's gala appearance are veteran music producer Song Ke and renowned songwriter Gao Xiaosong.

The duo took charge of Evergrande Music in June, which was launched by the Evergrande Real Estate Group, one of the country's largest developers. This year, Evergrande Music contributed to CCTV's gala planning.

According to Song, who is Evergrande Music's managing director, Dion topped the list of international stars considered for the gala.

The 1997 film Titanic saw My Heart Will Go On become a global hit.

With the launch of the 3D version of Titanic in China in 2012, both Dion and the song enjoyed renewed fame.

Dion set to shine on night of stars

Soprano Song Zuying will team up with Celine Dion to shine at the New Year gala. [PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY]

"It proves how much the singer and the song have impressed Chinese audiences," says Song.

Gao, managing director for Evergrande Music's music department, agrees, saying that My Heart Will Go On is the most popular English karaoke song in China.

"If you ask a Chinese person to name two English songs they can sing, it will be My Heart Will Go On and Happy Birthday," he says.

To explore new possibilities for the star in China, CCTV also organized the diva's cooperation with soprano Song Zuying, who is also an internationally acclaimed singer.

She gave a solo concert, called What a Beautiful Jasmine, in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington in 2006.

Her album was nominated that year as the best Classical Crossover Album at the Grammy Awards. In 2008, she performed The Flame of Love with Spanish tenor Placido Domingo at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

"I believe audiences are curious and really looking forward to seeing the stars perform together,'' said Gao.

Gao also flew to Dion's studio in Los Vegas to help with rehearsals of the folk song.

"She cannot speak Chinese, but she is fluent in French and English which will help her with some of the pronunciations," he said.

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