Ole! That’s a Spanish word that means “watch out if you’re wearing red in the vicinity of a bull on the loose”. The same can be said of wearing red to an André Rieu concert. Be especially cautious when the time for him to play España Cani approaches. As the famous Dutch violinist explained before a 2013 Amsterdam concert, the tempestuous and fiery piece is always played in Spain before the bulls run into the arena. It’s very impressive, Rieu says.
The stands are packed, the matadors are waiting in the middle, the drums begin to beat, the trumpets begin to blare, then they throw open the gates and, bang, there is the bull. Music Man readers can be assured that no bulls are hurt during an André Rieu concert, and that support for bullfighting is on the decline in Spain, where it is banned in a number of cities. Having set up the song, Rieu warns his audience that they have nothing to fear, unless they are dressed all in red. Take a look:
The video, which is from Rieu’s Wonderful World DVD and was filmed in Maastricht, Holland, Rieu’s home city, starts with a woman showing her bra strap to indicate that she has red underwear on, so there is no point in taking off her dress for España Cani. Rieu & His Johann Strauss Orchestra start playing in front of a projection of a bull ring. Soon a pantomime bull jauntily struts down an aisle from the rear. When the bull makes it to the front row and sees the woman, it makes for her.
The woman flees in terror. It’s a long run to the back of the hall, but she makes it, only to appear on the projection being chased around the bull ring by the bull. Soon after the song stops, the pantomime bull saunters down the aisle with a red bra hooked on a horn. It’s a good gag, well executed, provided one doesn’t ponder too long about the fate of actual bulls in bullfights. The woman in red is obviously a plant, she’s on Rieu’s staff, but she puts on a good show. Let’s see some more Rieu:
The above video – André Rieu featuring Romanian nai (or pan-flute) player Gheorghe Zamfir performing The Lonely Shepherd – is the most popular on André Rieu’s YouTube channel. It has 156M views. España Cani live in Maastrich has 18M.
As you would have noticed, André Rieu is extremely popular for a classical musician. This has led to criticism of his populist approach to the classical tradition. Australian violinist Richard Tognetti has described Rieu’s music as Schlagermusik Pop, which is to say that his music is sentimental and trivial. Rieu has an answer for these critics: “I don’t make it mainstream in the bad sense of the word. I would never put a beat on a Bach. I play everything in its original form. But I play in a way that gets millions of people to my concerts. I play in stadiums. I don’t know. I think some people are jealous.” If you would like to see more from André Rieu, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.