Celine Dion headlines the opening night of Barclays BST Hyde Park

CELINE Dion deals exclusively in big emotions. And last week’s performance at Hyde Park was no exception. The star took the stage in front of an audience of over 50,000 people to open the season for Barclays British Summer Time.

Celine Dion performing at BST Hyde Park  

Home to the legendary and the timeless, Hyde Park has hosted an incredible array of talent on its main stage year after year. It always seems that they can’t possibly outdo themselves, yet each year they carry on hosting iconic moments that withstand the test of time.

 Celine Dion captivating the crowd at BST Hyde Park

The performance by Celine Dion for BST was no exception to the above. Dion’s reputation precedes her. As the sun started to slowly set over Hyde Park, the singer pranced onto the stage in the same manner as she did while in the prime of her career. As a female vocalist, Celine Dion’s style couldn’t be further from what’s currently in vogue: that high, frail, baby voice favoured by pale women with ukuleles. Love, death, heartbreak is the overarching themes of Dion’s work and they are rarely perceived as subtle to those experiencing them. Romantic infatuation really does feel like the high notes in The Power of Love.

Flamboyant as expected with four outfit changes throughout the evening, nothing distracted the audience’s attention from her voice. Dion is never anything other than note-perfect and largely devoid of melismatic over-singing. When she is singing, her material falls into two categories. The first is big-ticket cover versions, songs you might reasonably have thought were too well-worn to support another straight reinterpretation. The second is material was written specifically for her, all immediately identifiable even to the non-Dion diehard as things you’ve heard umpteen times.

 Dion’s greatest strength was proved once more. She can make any sound her own. With an extraordinary rendition of Purple Rain in tribute to Prince, the powerhouse vocalist proved that she can make any song her own once more. Even though it’s been nearly four decades since her debut French album, the strength of her vocals is completely undimmed and engulfs Hyde Park in a vapour of emotions. 

Compared with the newer generation of divas, Dion has more in common with Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli: the gold suits and billowing gowns, the epic scale, and a voice as affecting in a soft register as it is in full flight.

When Dion went into her, perhaps, most famous song, Titanic’s My Heart Will Go On, it encompassed a particular type of beauty that can only be attributed to her and her alone. At the end of the day, it’s the vocals that will weather all storms. 

Celine Dion performing at BST Hyde Park  

She left the audience in awe with her final song, a tribute to John Lennon’s Imagine. “If I may, I would love to leave with this message of peace and harmony in the best way that I can.” Dion is a force to be reckoned with and last night’s performance in Hyde Park was a testimony of it. 

 by Adina Ilie