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“He was probably interested in coming here and performing here,” Dion said. “I really wanted to kind of sing a few of his songs to tell people how big of a loss that is for him to not be here any longer.”

Jackson wasn’t the only A-lister who mulled moving to Sin City after Dion’s opening night at Caesars. The show is credited for launching a wave of concert series that recalled Sinatra and Presley in Las Vegas. Since Dion’s Caesars stint, the Colosseum has hosted Elton John, Bette Midler, Cher and Jerry Seinfeld.

“More pressure, right?” Dion quipped when told of comparisons being drawn between her and Sinatra. “There is one Sinatra, and there never will be another one. The same thing with everyone else. I want to give the best of me and then I can never be disappointed and say I should have done better.”

Before she left to launch a world tour in 2008, “A New Day” grossed more than $400 million over five years.

Caesars spent $95 million to build the Colosseum for Dion in 2003, complete with a humidifier to protect her voice. It seats more than 4,000 people. The show opened to bad reviews, but was a commercial triumph.

Dion was originally expected to start her new show at Caesars in June 2010, but five failed in-vitro fertilization attempts delayed those plans. She delivered twin sons Nelson and Eddy in October, and began rehearsing for her March opening in January as she continued to breastfeed the babies and care for her 10-year-old son with the help of her mother, sister and a nanny.

In that time, Dion also squeezed in a performance at the 83rd Academy Awards last month.

“I didn’t think I would be ready after this pregnancy, but everything is smoother than I thought,” said Dion, who is living with her brood at Caesars while a nursery is added to her lakeside home outside Las Vegas.

Dion’s wide-ranging voice was as ripe as always during a preview performance Thursday at Caesars.

For the opening number, she wore a bedazzled white strapless gown as she belted out Journey’s “Open Arms” on a stage dressed in sheer curtains. As she approaching the booming chorus, the curtains dropped to reveal rows of musicians across the stage.

Later in the show, a video showed images of her oldest son blowing out his birthday candles and of the twins being baptized at a Las Vegas church, and performances by a young Dion at the dawn of her career.

A chandelier twinkled above the stage during a performance of “Because You Loved Me,” smoke licked at Dion’s heels during “All by Myself,” and in a haunting mid-concert rendition of Jacques Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” Dion tearfully contemplated the loss of a lover in her native French.

The concert hall swelled at the emotion. Women cried, cheered on their feet and wiped their eyes dry.

“She’s got the best voice in the whole wide world,” said Naomi Giancola, a Las Vegas ticket vendor and Dion fan. “I don’t care what she sings. She’s just my No. 1.”