Number 101. The last item on my to-do for life list was to see the Johann Strauss Orchestra live. An orchestra? People that know me would probably be so surprised by that. I’ve always been known as the old school hip-hop head. But, the truth is that my music taste is very eclectic. There are very few music genres I don’t like. Pop, rock, pop-punk, rap, hip hop, r&b, jazz…I like a bit of it all. I liked a bit of all, but Opera certainly wasn’t one of the genres in that category. My vision of it was the fat lady in a Viking hat screaming at the top of her lungs, justifying that as “singing.” You can blame Looney Tunes for that. However, I’m glad to admit, I was very wrong.
One day, I was in one of my YouTube wormhole moments and I came across André Rieu. I watched one video and became hooked. Hooked on his concerts, his orchestra, and Opera in general. The environment he created looked absolutely wonderful. I knew I wanted to be apart of it one day. That one day would come sooner than I thought.
So, in case you are like what I was and totally oblivious to the Opera world, let me explain who this dude is and his significance. André Rieu is a world-famous Dutch violinist. He is known for creating the Johann Strauss Orchestra which specializes in the waltz. What makes them unique is that they are selling out stadiums across the world for…wait for it…Opera!
They are competing with the biggest pop and rock acts. After months of watching Rieu and his orchestra on YouTube, I knew I wanted to be in that environment live. I finally got my chance to do that in September 2018. After what I believe was a five or ten-year American hiatus, he was finally back in the states.
As much as I wanted to go, I still had hesitation. First, I hate going downtown. It’s not downtown itself that I don’t like, it’s everything that comes with it. It’s always packed, which is an issue for an introvert like me. The parking situation is always a mess. You have to pay an arm and a leg to park miles away from where your actual destination is. Put simply, it’s a huge headache. Secondly, I had no one to go with. People I know aren’t exactly the Opera types. Thirdly, I’d never been to an Opera concert before. I assumed everyone there would be really snobby and high class. What would I wear? How should I behave? So, that also caused some trepidation. My desire to go outweighed all these negative factors, so I purchased the ticket and went on my way.
I was debating on how I should dress. After much debate, I ended up going in jeans and a nice blouse. Let’s just say I stood out when I got there. I found a parking app that found me a relatively cheap spot a half-mile from the theater, so that was good enough for me.
I had never been to the Fox Theatre, which is a staple in the Detroit landscape. The architecture was beautiful inside and out. It was stunning. I knew we were in for a good night.
We were all patiently waiting and after a bit of a wait, he finally came out. It was the beginning of what would be a very wonderful night.
The atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was jovial, the architecture in the background made you feel like you were somewhere in Europe and the music just helped melt away any stresses that were had that day.
Below are some pictures from that night (sorry, I didn’t take much video. I was trying to enjoy the moment.) and a video of one of my favorite performances from André, though it was in Italy. If you think you’re not into Opera, watch that video and you’ll change your mind.
Overall, it was such a unique and rememberable experience. A room full of strangers absolutely enjoying each other’s company with the common interest of music that moves the soul. It’s a night I’ll never forget. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to cross this goal off my list.