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Waltzing with Andre Rieu

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Andre Rieu. Photo by Sonja Harper, Source: Wikimedia Commons

The opportunity: to view a concert from an executive suite at the Rogers Arena as the guest of Metropolis at Metrotown’s Hot Seats Contest.

The challenge: to get excited about Andre Rieu, the Modern King of Waltz, whose tours in 2009 grossed nearly $96 million.

I imagine a cross between Liberace and Lawrence Welk.

And as I line up for the bus on the night of the concert, it begins to rain—harder. I get to the Rogers Arena, find the right door, collect my ticket, make my way through crowds of senior citizens, and walk up the five levels because one of the elevators seems to be on the fritz. Soon enough I am standing at the door of the executive suite.

Dripping wet and in a foul mood.

I knock. The door opens and a gracious young woman welcomes me, takes my soggy coat and umbrella, gestures me into the suite, and says, “Get yourself a plate of food.”

Food. That’s why I’m so bad tempered. I’d forgotten to eat lunch.

I take my place on a stool at the bar overlooking the auditorium and remember my fear of heights.

There are about ten Hot Seat winners, each one genial and genuinely looking forward to the concert. The food improves my mood, and I figure I’ll probably be OK where I’m sitting, a place from which it is impossible to look straight down. If worse comes to worst, I can always stand flat against the inside wall once the music begins, close my eyes, and take deep, calming breaths.

But of course once it begins I can’t look away, in part because I can’t believe my eyes. In they march to 76 Trombones. The musicians look like they’re all decked out for a debutant ball in Memphis, Tennessee, circa 1948—pastel gowns with enormous skirts and puffed up short sleeves; the men in white ties and black tail coats.

In the first couple of numbers, I notice the five ample-bosomed ladies behind the string section, a sort of chorus who flounce their skirts in time to the music and tra-la-la a good deal, as they wink and make faces at the audience. At one point, the violinists rise slightly while still playing as if they’d all been goosed.

Everyone is having entirely too much fun.

Except me, of course. I’m holding back out of some old East Coast sense of sophisticated irony (or something).

But he’s wearing me down, Andre Rieu is, and it’s through his brilliant and relentless showmanship. The Music Man indeed!

And then he’s got me: at the first strains of the Blue Danube Waltz, audience members get up and, partnered or not, they start to dance. Rieu has gone and done it—unleashed the irrepressible power of the waltz—and from then on I’m his—straight the way through Ave Maria, Don’t Cry for me Argentina, and—you guessed it—O Canada which he performs solo on his violin.

And if that weren’t enough—next his Johann Strauss Orchestra breaks into orchestrated chaos—a la the last night at the Proms—with champagne guzzling on stage, balloons descending from the ceiling and—I have to admit this was pretty classy: the Drinking Song from La traviata.

If you’re shopping at Metrotown, enter for a chance to watch the next concert or Canucks game in the "Metropolis Hot Seats" at any Customer Service desk. For more information about Metropolis Hot Seats visit:

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