World renowned Andre Rieu was in Singapore this month, and just in case you missed the 2.5-hours of grandiosity, here’s a summary of what went down: blingbling-mmm-LOL-kaboombshhhlinglingling

First, the blingbling: Andre Rieu’s shows aren’t just about the music. He makes sure it is such a splendid spectacle so that everyone, even the musically-illiterate, can have a magical night. Andre Rieu is to classical music what Walt Disney is to film.

Everything was all pretty and shimmery and insanely enthusiastic. The set itself looked like a venue in Disneyland, complete with an impressive backdrop screening of various magnificent landscapes to match each piece. At exactly 20:00 (kudos for punctuality), Andre Rieu led his orchestra into the hall in a lively march; everyone dressed like they just got teleported from Disneyland. Pastel coloured frilly full-skirted ball gowns, and equally exaggerated grins to match. And I suspect the second criteria on Rieu’s hiring pre-requisites is having good looks and over-zealous facial expressions.

Photo Credit: Universal Music Singapore

Photo Credit: Universal Music Singapore

Then, the mmm: since there’s no other way to put it, let me get straight to it. The venue sucked. The Indoor Stadium is really the worst place I’d ever been to for an orchestral concert. I have no idea why Andre Rieu would make do with this place. The acoustics were so bad I wanted to leave at intermission (though I was quite smitten by the pretty lady in the second row making funny faces every other high note). Ironic how the venue did zero justice to the star of the show, because somehow all the strings sounded nauseatingly screechy over the speakers. The percussions and brass were much better, but still. 

I was quite surprised at how forgiving the audience was—a lot of times there were standing ovations for pieces I thought were only so-so. Regardless, everyone was in good spirits because of what a humorous performer Andre Rieu was. (And it doesn’t hurt that he looks so much like Mel Gibson…) Flippantly liberal with his superlatives, Rieu declares Singapore the BEST AUDIENCE IN THE WHOLE WORLD! We lap the compliments up unabashedly. We are even more flattered when he brings us his waltz-ified arrangement of Burung Kakak Tua. Against the following backdrop, behold:

Photo Credit: Universal Music Singapore

Photo Credit: Universal Music Singapore

 

He then claims Strauss to be KING OF THE WORLD, which I found to be hilarious, because the child-like idolatry Rieu has of Strauss is so endearing. More LOLs include his did-he-actually-just-say-that comment, “Made in China” when referring to a frequently malfunctioning wind-up musical doll (played by Brazilian soloist, Carla Maffioletti).

The second half was a vast improvement in terms of entertainment. There was a lot more to see. 80% of the show was about Rieu’s hyper-mobile eyebrows, the cheeky shenanigans from the trumpeters, and the pretty choral girls lined up at the back of the orchestra. The acoustics were still hopelessly revolting. That’s not to say the music wasn’t good though. The vocals were very impressive and even at times extremely touching, which I must admit is a huge feat considering the travesty of a sound system.

Photo Credit: Universal Music Singapore

Photo Credit: Universal Music Singapore

And thankfully the finale kaboombshhhlinglingling was a pleasant one, in the form of the extraordinarily awesome string of encores. The longest set of encores I have ever encountered, in my entire life, in the entire universe. I think the encore list itself was longer than the planned program for the second half… But I can’t be sure because I was too high to remember. Somewhere along the way there was even a bagpipe-led rendition of the most beautiful Amazing Grace I’ve ever heard live. I was glad I stayed till the end despite the earlier assault on my ears. Andre Rieu is an exquisite showman, a people-pleaser. A darn good one at that.

Balloons, wine, familiar tunes, dancing in the aisles, … This was a truly magical night despite the really awful venue, which technically is no fault of Rieu’s. At the end of the night we all learn something from him, that music is MAGIC! That it has the ability to bring everyone together in a beautiful, picture-perfect utopic world immune to the ravages of time. Think “It’s a Small World” a la Disneyland.

Special thanks to Universal Music Singapore for their kind hospitality!

SETLIST

1. Seventy-Six Trombones   –  M.Wilson, arr. A.Rieu

2. Dark Eyes  –  A.Ferraris, arr. A.Rieu

3. Second Waltz  –  D.Shostakovich, arr. A.Rieu

4. Granada  –  A.Lara, arr. A.Rieu

5. Ach, ich hab’ in meinem Herzen  –  N.Schultze, arr. A.Rieu

6. This Land Is Mine (Exodus song)  –  E.Gold, arr. A.Rieu

7. Schneewalzer  –  Th.Koschat, arr. A.Rieu

8. Les oiseaux dans la charmille/Olympia  –  J.Offenbach, arr. A.Rieu

9. Burung Kakak Tua  –  Local song, arr. A.Rieu

10. You’ll Never Walk Alone  –  R.Rodgers, arr. A.Rieu

INTERMISSION

11. Gold und Silber  –  F.Lehar, arr. A.Rieu

12. Memory  –  A.L.Webber, arr. A.Rieu

13. Adios Nonino  –  A.Piazolla, arr. A.Rieu

14. Libertango  –  A.Piazolla, arr. A.Rieu

15. Non ti scordar di me  – E. de Curtis, arr. A. Rieu

16. Nessun Dorma  – G. Puccini, arr. A. Rieu

17. An der schonen blauen Donau  –  J.Strauss, arr. A.Rieu

18. O Fortuna  –  C.Orff, arr. A.Rieu

SOLOISTS

Carlos Buono, Argentina – (Bandoneon)

Carla Maffioletti, Brazil – (Olympia)

Mirusia Louwerse, Australia – (Memory)

The Platin Tenors – Gary Bennett, Thomas Greuel, Béla Mavrák 
(Granada; Ach, ich hab in meinem Herzen; This Land is Mine; Non ti scordar di me; Nessun dorma)