Celine Dion made her return to the Las Vegas stage Tuesday evening for the first time since the loss of her husband René Angélil, who died of cancer in January, and the singer gave a touching tribute to her partner of 21 years, which began with a written message to the crowd.
"I understood that my career was in a way his masterpiece, his song, his symphony," the missive read. "The idea of leaving it unfinished would have hurt him terribly. I realized that if he ever left us, I would have to continue without him, for him."
This was followed by a sweet montage highlighting different stages of his life through photos ranging from his childhood, young adult years, his relationship with Dion and his time as a husband and father. Dion then appeared on stage and was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd.
Without saying a word, she dived into a beautiful ballad, singing Barbra Streisand's "With One More Look At You/Watch Closely Now."
Once the song ended, Dion tried to hold back the tears, however she couldn't help but get emotional when addressing the audience about the tragedy she has recently faced:
"Thank you. I did rehearse this song in my closet and it went way better than that. Through my life I only had highs for my husband who sat out here night after night. People thought that I was looking at him actually, but I didn't need to because every time I closed my eyes, I felt René on stage with me, whether he was seated in his seat right there, in the balcony, backstage or at home with the kids. He's always been on stage with me. And nothing will ever change that.
"You know, René always surrounded me with the very best people possible. I trusted him so much that I never really had the chance to really worry about anything. Now I guess it is only a natural impulse to constantly question myself. Would you let the kids play with these toys? Is this song too fast? Is this song too slow? Don't talk too much. It is pretty amazing that since he's physically no longer with me, he is even more present. René was my very best critic, he never told me what I wanted to hear, he told me what I needed to hear. Night after night, on our way back home from the show, when he was so silent, I could sense that he was trying to know how to approach me without hurting my artistic feeling, but he had to tell me for my own growth.
"... You know, I might not hear his voice yet, but I talk to him, I think of him all the time. I feel and I know he hears me. One way or another, I know he will give me a sign for his approval or not. And now, I can feel that he's telling me to zip it and start singing. Thank you so much. Thank you so very much for being here tonight."
A source tells E! News that Dion is continuing a tradition she would do with her husband before every show. The insider shares that Dion had a mold made of her husband's hand and had it covered in gold to continue the ritual of holding hands before hitting the stage. Dion held the cast of her husband's hand, which will stay in Vegas, before taking the stage Tuesday.
And Dion did more than just perform from the stage. The "My Heart Will Go On" songstress also surprised audience members by performing in the aisles and taking selfies with her guests. While she was able to crack a smile and make a couple of jokes throughout the evening, Dion couldn't help but cry while singing "All by Myself." A video tribute to her husband played for the crowd, who cheered and applauded loudly when images from the couple's wedding were shown. Images of René playing hockey and standing with the Stanley Cup were also shown, which also received a round of applause.
Friends and family gathered last month to hold a Celebration of Life memorial in honor of Angélil at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.