GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

October 3, 2013

Las Vegas Weekly

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"WHEN I PLAYED IT, I SAW A TEAR RUN DOWN HIS CHEEK." – Siegfried Fischbacher of the Siegfried & Roy production show, Siegfried had grown weary of performing—and of running what he calls "a major corporation called Siegfried & Roy"—by then. The duo had made a splash by signing a "lifetime contract," trumpeted by longtime manager Bernie Yuman, with the Mirage three years before "the thing" happened. But it is possible, even likely, that the act might have ended in a more traditional manner by now. "What had happened was, I was getting very tired, and they came to me and asked, 'What can we do to make you happy?'" Siegfried recalls. "I said, 'One show [per night], with the same conditions.' And Roy said, 'All right, we will do this.' All of our lives we'd worked two shows per night." They performed that new schedule just one time. "The day that contract started, that very day, when we went to one show, that's when the accident happened," Siegfried says. He reflects on what made the act—two men from overseas who blended magic and exotic animals— so popular for so long. "He is so, so different than I," Siegfried says as he nears the warehouse that stores the duo's many set pieces, along with a blue Rolls Royce once owned by Greta Garbo. "I would say he is more egocentric and I am more humble, you know? Sometimes it's no good to be too humble. Sometimes it's no good to be too egocentric. So what has happened is, I took him down, he pulled me up, and we met in the middle. That is Siegfried & Roy." A n exhibit in a glass case in the Little Bavaria warehouse shows a stuffed white tiger rising from an opening in the stage during a Siegfried & Roy show. It is a depiction, created by Siegfried, of the act that presented Montecore to the audience at the Mirage. As the moment is re-created in miniature, a beautiful violin piece plays in the background. The song is "Meditation" from the opera Thais, which provided spirited anticipation to the arrival of the big cat in the Siegfried & Roy show. In the days after "the thing," Roy Horn lay unconscious in a hospital bed at UCLA Medical Center. He had undergone surgery to remove 25 percent of his skull, which was stitched into his abdomen, to alleviate the pressure of the swelling of his brain. The procedure is known as decompressive craniectomy, a somewhat obscure medical term that became far more recognizable to the general public as a result of "the thing." Roy had gone "code blue" three times the night he was rushed out of the Mirage, and was still in critical condition. The prognosis for him returning to consciousness, or even surviving, was unclear at best. Then Siegfried played a recording of "Meditation" for his stricken partner. "When I played it, I saw a tear run down his cheek," Siegfried says. "I knew then he could hear this piece, he understood it, and everything would be okay." Standing just an arm's length away, Roy listens to Siegfried talk of that moment. There is a pause as Roy exhales, and then, in a hushed tone, he says simply, "Life is our stage now." 20 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM OCTOBER 3–9, 2013 16-22_Feature_20131003.indd 20 10/2/13 5:11 PM

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