After three record breaking nights at Docklands last year, Rieu did the unthinkable ...
The Herald Sun Melbourne ~ May 31, 2009
He Cried ...
"I'm so ashamed," Rieu says. "I'm a professional. Crying on stage is not done. But I couldn't help myself." It happened as he performed 'Waltzing Matilda' during his third Melbourne show."Firstly, it's a magnificent, beautiful song that always touches me," he says. "Secondly, I worked very hard to put together a show for my Australian fans. It was the biggest stage on earth, so, for me, it was a big risk. But it worked. "There were 38,000 people in front of me, enjoying the concert, smiling. It was all too much for me."
Certainly, weeping is a rarity for superstar Rieu. He is usually laughing all the way to the bank. And deservedly so. Rieu, and his orchestra, celebrate their 30th anniversary this year. In that time, Rieu has overcome every possible setback and sneer. Famous Australian violinist Richard Tognetti calls Rieu's music: Schlagermusik Pop.
"I don't make it mainstream in the bad sense of the word," Rieu responds. "I would never put a beat on a Bach. I play everything in original form. But I play in a way that gets millions of people to my concerts. I play in stadiums. "I don't know," he shrugs. "I think some people are jealous."
"I believed in myself because I knew what happened in the audience every night," he says. "In the beginning, I didn't have money and we were a small orchestra, but the atmosphere (now) is the same as it was then. "Nothing has changed."
Except for the numbers. He was the best-selling artist in Australia in 2008 and so far in 2009. His national stadium tour last year broke box office records. That tour, with a $5.6 million cost to stage each show, toured the world and had an entourage of 460 people. According to concert industry magazine Pollstar, Rieu made $98 million from touring last year. His was the eighth most profitable world tour in 2008.
Rieu and his wife, Marjorie, control everything. Rieu, 59, has no manager. His son, Pierre, was a production manager. He is now vice-president of the family company. "I like to keep it in the family," Rieu says. "This way, I decide whatever I do." He consults Marjorie on everything. "We decide together. We are the boss," Rieu says. "We decide on the programs, she writes the text. "We talk about what we're going to do next year -- or in 10 years. We work on my career together."
Andre Rieu runs a tight ship. His tour party includes 40 logistics personnel, 100 orchestra, choir and soloists, 100 dancers, iceskaters, marching and pipe band, 50 production, wardrobe and chefs and 20 sound and lighting technicians.
But he is a generous boss. The orchestra, choir and soloists get five-star travel and accommodation. "We make music together on stage," he says. "So -- imagine I am in a five-star hotel and eat a big steak, and my orchestra is in a tent outside and eats McDonald's. "Do you think we can make music together?" he laughs. "We are friends. We travel the world and we come home. Together."
It was reported Rieu fines players if they make mistakes. "No," he corrects. "I fire them. When I see somebody is not doing their best, and sitting there only for the money, we talk. "If, in two or three weeks, it's the same, we say goodbye."
Rieu is often called a control freak. He dislikes the term. "I'm controlling everything, but only because I have this dream in my head," he says. "I know exactly how I want to achieve this dream and make it reality."
Rieu conducts business affairs at his castle in Maastricht in the Netherlands. He lives in a stately home nearby. Lately, however, Rieu has started to call Australia a home away from home. Locally, he has sold 2.5 million CDs and DVDs in the last two years. His DVD, Live In Australia, has been certified 21 times platinum.
Andre Rieu, Rod Laver Arena, Oct 29 and 30. You'll Never Walk Alone is out now. Written by Nui Te Koha, The Herald Sun Melbourne