By now a lot of our readers would have seen La Perle by Dragone – the region’s first permanent Las Vegas-style aqua show at Al Habtoor City in Dubai. Each month we will profile a member of the La Perle cast. This issue Joanna Andrews caught up with Olivier Milchberg, one of the three musicians behind some of the musical compilations in the show. What most the audience probably don’t know is that the music is played live each and every show.
French-born Olivier is no stranger to creations by Dragone – one of the world’s most sought-after artistic directors. Before working on La Perle Olivier worked on Dragone’s award-winning The House of Dancing Water in Macau. He also worked for Cirque du Soleil for four years. “I obviously knew about Dragone and the incredible work it does, so I decided to get in touch,” he said. “They were looking for world musicians and I fitted the criteria perfectly as I specialize in oriental music. I have also performed in a Gulf music band for many years.”
As soon as Olivier was offered a job to work on La Perle he jumped at the opportunity. His admits the role is challenge. “I already have vast experience in playing in big shows, but I’ve never conducted as a band leader. This is a big challenge for me. But it is a rush that I thrive on.” he said. “My timing, awareness and communication has to be flawless in every performance.”
Olivier says one of the most thrilling aspects of his job is the travel. He has worked in many places around the world including China, Macau and Dubai. “I love the travel,” he says. “I enjoy embracing new cultures, discovering more about the wonderful people and places I visit.” He adds, “Countries, such as China have such a different culture, it can take a while to get used to that why of life.
The Paris-born musician is one three live musicians in La Perle who are situated stage right. “I play a variety of instruments throughout the show including flutes traditional to the Middle East [Kaval and Ney] and guitars [Mandola and Turkish banjo].”
Twice a night, five times a week Olivier performs live. “I perform solos with the main melody and improvisations. As the show continues to evolve, I may play other instruments or appear on stage. This depends on the vision of Franco Dragone, the artistic director.”
Olivier is also responsible for triggering the computer tracks. He has to watch the show with an eagle eye and adapt the tracks to be in time with the daredevil artists. “My job is crucial,” he says. “If there are any issues we continue playing or change the rhythm so any improvisations are not noticeable to the audience.”
Olivier says he is most proud of his ability to improvise when needed. “Trying to match exactly with what happens on stage isn’t easy. I try never to repeat myself. The music is such a big part of th show. It adds to the atmosphere and enhances the action.”