Andre [1994]

Those who have enjoyed this program on PBS need only be told that it is available on home video. André Rieu is a master of light classical music, and here he is at his best. The program was taped live, outdoors in the Piazza de la Republica in the Italian cty of Cortona. Rieu addresses the audience in fluent but sometimes charmingly awkward Italian, with English subtitles. From the opening moments he has the vast crowd in the palm of his hand. They whistle for him in "Chanson d'amour," clap in unison for the "Toreador Song" from Carmen, the "Radetzky" march, and the galloping finales of the William Tell and Light Cavalry overtures, and sing along in "La donna e mobile," the drinking song from La traviata, and, most movingly, the Italian national anthem and "Va pensiero," which is almost a national anthem. The music is basic classical top-40, with an emphasis on opera and a lot of Italian music, including "The Carnival of Venice" and the Grand March from Aida. The performances are full of energy and technically skilled. Rieu conducts, plays his violin, and generously shares the spotlight, notably with soprano Carmen Monarca, mezzo-soprano Carla Malfioletti, and several singing and dancing young ladies who might have stepped out of a Botticelli painting. Visuals include, besides the concert, a charming Tuscan landscape and a ride in a Venetian gondola. --Joe McLellan

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