Andre Rieu

We saw Andre Rieu at Grandwest in Cape Town on Sunday 2nd May 2010. When Rob and Rose invited us to join them I was perplexed as to how a Dutch violinist, whom I had never heard of, could keep us entertained for a full show. I had not realised what a showman this man is!

This two and half hour show is very slick, clever, funny and completely populist. Andre is vain, smooth talking and delights in his ringmaster role. Even though he flaunts his Stradivarius violin I have no idea how good a violinist he is because he played no solos. He was supported by an orchestra of fifty musicians, three tenors, three sopranos and seven backing singers. They were all dressed in full evening dress. They performed nothing obscure. This was populist music for the masses. They performed several waltzes which had the audience dancing in the aisles. They played popular classical music. They sang well known operatic pieces as well as songs from the musicals. Three of the orchestra played lovely solos. Everything was upbeat, loud and happy. Andre’s jokes were well packaged and his orchestra supported him with amusing actions and role plays. And then he got very clever. He presented us with a local soprano who churned our emotions with a wonderful, well known, African lullaby and other African delights. A lovely song was sung by a local children’s choir. And when the orchestra struck up the local rousing song, Sarie Marais, the ringmaster had to do nothing because the audience of 5,000 sang their hearts out. The end of the show went on for thirty minutes as the audience screamed for more and he returned again and again with yet one more prepared finale.

He did four shows in Cape Town so 20,000 people paid absolutely top prices to see him, with further shows in Johannesburg and Durban. His website, offering six language options, advertises that he will be touring 21 North American cities later this year. He is popular!

I was in complete awe of the organisation, forethought and practice that must have gone into this performance. I knew that my emotions were being manipulated by a consummate showman. And yet I didn’t mind. I gave in to the wonderful music.