Franco Dragone, best known for Cirque du Soleil, died of heart attack

Belgian-Italian spectacle director Franco Dragone died of a heart attack on Friday in the Egyptian capital Cairo, aged 69. This was reported by his collaborator Claudine Cornet. In the 1990s, Dragone signed for several Cirque du Soleil productions, after which he founded his own company Dragone.

Dragone was in Egypt for professional reasons, just a few days after attending the city opera Décrocher la Lune, a spectacle with 850 actors and extras, on the streets of his hometown La Louvière. "It is a real disaster for our city," La Louvière mayor Jacques Gobert reacted to his death. On the occasion of the eighth edition of the city opera, Dragone had floated the idea of creating a 'Décrocher la lune' museum. ​

Born on 12 December 1952 in Cairano, Italy, Dragone came to La Louvière with his parents at the age of seven. From his early years, he was already active in theatre projects and socio-cultural work in that region. In 1982, he made the big jump to Quebec, where he stood out in the newly founded club Cirque du Soleil. He signed for ten productions, including Saltimbanco and La Nouba. These and other pieces can still be seen worldwide.

In 2000, Dragone returned to his native region in Belgium and founded the Franco Dragone Entertainment Group. With that company, he organised the first urban opera 'Décrocher la lune', aiming to remove the negative prejudices that often surrounded his city. Moreover, it was Dragone's company that organised the opening ceremony of Euro 2000 on the Brussels Heysel. Numerous other major productions would follow in the years thereafter.

In recent years, however, stories of financial malfeasance also surfaced. The Mons court opened an investigation into tax fraud, money laundering and corruption in 2012. In April 2020, the prosecution asked for Dragone to be referred to the correctional court.

Two years ago, he was also diagnosed with leukaemia. He recently expressed hope that he would recover soon.


© BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE - Choreographer Franco Dragone pictured during a press conference for the 8th edition of "Decrocher la lune" in the presence of F. Dragone, F. Murgia and the new artistic team, Wednesday 07 September 2022.


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