At first the umbrellas were up and the rain came down
It looked set for the night, but the rain gods were on our side. After two hours huddled under our red brolly, the jolly rain gods took pity on us and it stopped at the precise moment the musicians from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra took their seats under the huge canopy. And so the festivities began.
125 years + 400 years = the first time
It’s the first time there has been a full orchestra at the Prinsengracht Concert. The reason for this grand gesture? The Concertgebouw Orchestra is celebrating 125 years and Amsterdam canals four hundred years.
Specially built stage
To hold the 90 musicians, a pontoon was specially built and was laid from quay to quay just behind where the Rozengracht bridge crosses the Prinsengracht. This meant that there was less room for boats than usual, but this did not stop everyone having immense fun.
Nothing could dampen the sound of music
Led by the top conductor Sir Antonio Pappano, the orchestra played a high-level, predominantly Italian, opera program. The sound quality in the damp air was remarkably good.
Oh my God it’s Joseph Calleja
At first we could only see the side of the stage, so we only heard him. My wife suggested it was Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja singing Verdi’s “La donna è mobile”.
She was right, of course.
He was the star attraction. He also sang “Nessun dorma” from Puccini, which had the crowd’s enthusiasm reach one of its high points.
Smoke, lighting effects and musket fire
The most spectacular part of the evening was the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, accompanied by smoke, lighting effects and musket fire. The plan Initially was for gun shots, but the there was not enough space. The whole concert was televised and sent out live via Radio, TV and internet.
Free Ice Cream
We finished off this remarkable evening, courtesy of Magnum, who were there handing out free ices. All the way home my wife kept saying “Oh my God I’ve just heard Joseph Calleja sing live.”
I scored a lot of brownie points this evening I can tell you.
By John Richardson