WIEN, Stadt meiner Traumen
                                                                                                                                    by John and Bobbie deJong/ Sonja
   Thanks to the fans who sent pictures.  Iris, Ineke, Chris and many others. I had a hard time deciding which to use..

Vienna, city of my dreams

We caught an early evening train from our homestead in the Netherlands to Schiphol airport where we had an early
departure the next morning for Vienna. (Sonja, I have been in Vienna as a young girl several times and had a wish to
go back for many years.  I think it is a beautiful city and personally I prefer it over Paris)   I joined John and Bobbie at
the gate, we boarded our plane and soon we were off to the city of Johann Strauss and Mozart for four glorious days
of sightseeing and music. But the main purpose of our visit was to attend two fantastic concerts by Andre Rieu and
his Johann Strauss Orchestra.

After a couple of hours flying we landed in Vienna and were soon on our way to
our hotel. Sigrun had made the arrangements for us.   It had been a last minute
decision on our part to take in the Vienna concerts. We had only planned to
attend the Maastricht concerts but, since we would be in Europe anyway, we
added Vienna to our itinerary. (Sonja.  Sigrun knew of my wish to return to
Vienna and when she found out that Andre would be playing in Vienna, she was
sure I would want to come.  She bought tickets for me as soon as she knew, and
I had wonderful seats)

We checked into our hotel, a nice and quaint place, not too large, and not too far from the Schonbrunn Palace. We
freshened up a bit and set off to the Palace,a nice walk of about twenty minutes.

The front area of the Palace where the concert was to be held was quite busy. Stage hands and crews were busy
putting the final touches on the stage and light towers. We walked around the gardens in the back of the palace and
decided to stay for the rehearsal later that afternoon. The need for a bite to eat curtailed our stroll through the
gardens and we found a nice restaurant in the front area of the palace. The food was excellent and the pastries
even better.

A little while later we noticed Sigrun in our vicinity and went over to say “hallo”.
She was with two lovely ladies, Ann from Tasmania and Norma from Sydney,
Australia, who had come all that way to attend Andre’s concerts.  We did our
introductions and while chatting noticed several of the JSO members walking
towards to stage for the rehearsal, which turned out to be a lot of fun for us fans.
Sigrun and Anne were able to have a chat with Gary Bennett, he like Anne is from
Tasmania, Australia.     We saw Andre on his bike. Later during the sound check
we saw Marjorie on a bike as well, she was checking the sound in all corners of
the Venue.

We did get a chance to chat with Carmen and Carla, as both were waiting to partake in the rehearsal. They informed
us as Sonja mentioned in her newsletter that Carla would be leaving the end of this year and would just like Carmen
do only special performances when available. We hate to see both leave the JSO, but they both want to further their
solo careers.

After the rehearsal it was back to the hotel for some well deserved rest and sleep,
after a very long, long day. Poor Sonja must have been totally exhausted since she
flew in from the states just the day prior. (Sonja, I was indeed exhausted, but would
not have missed it for the world).
The next morning during breakfast was a time to meet more Andre fans. It seemed
that the majority of the guests in the hotel were all there to attend Andre’s concerts.
We met Frank and Kay from Ireland, Gordon and Heather from England, and said
hallo again to Sigrun’s friends Helma and Ushi, whom we had met last year in
Maastricht.  After breakfast it was decided that a stroll to the Gloriette was in order.

The Gloriette is located at the end of the palace gardens on top of a hill overlooking the palace and the city. It is a
memorial to the Glory of the Imperial Army. It now houses a fine restaurant with some of those fantastic Viennese
pastries. So seven ladies and one man, John, the only rooster in this hen house, set off for the Gloriette.  After
coffee and other goodies we walked down to the palace to take in the sound check.   We saw a golden carriage and
figured it must be used in during the concert.  Of course later we found out we were right.    

We watched from the palace balcony behind the stage and since the back of the stage was open, we had a nice
view of the soloists preparing to do their part.  
It was a rather hot and humid day and everyone was suffering from the heat. They rehearsed the Entry March and
we saw how they arrived in horse drawn carriages, the girls wore their traditional dresses even for the rehearsal, but
the men just wore street clothes.  We speculated that it must have been that it is harder to get in and out of a
carriage with the long dresses and they needed some practice.   It was a lot of fun to watch and we were able to get
quite close.   Franco saw me and offered me a ride.   Then he said if I joined the orchestra I could come all the time.   
He said do you play an instrument or maybe you can sing.  All this while talking from the carriage! What a comedian!

Sound check complete and it was back to the hotel to freshen up and return for a “night to remember”  We all met in
the hotel lobby and took public transportation back to the Palace entrance of the schonbrunn. Laurie and husband
Noel had arrived earlier during the day and joined us. Once inside the palace grounds it was time to find our seats
and maybe spot some more fans. We did not have to wait too long before Janny and Thea from Holland found us.
Shortly there after Ineke and Ruud joined us too. It was good to see them all again and of course Dan (the banner
man) and his lovely wife Alice. We met Chris and Siggy and their  daughter and son-in-law from Delaware.

The atmosphere was electric as the beginning of the concert drew near. A few threatening clouds lingered overhead,
but I think every one did their part in asking for nice weather. (Praying to Peter, sausages for Clara and releasing
lady bugs). The clouds parted and we were in for a spectacular summer evening.

As the first notes of the “Entry March” sounded Andre and the entire JSO entered the area in horse drawn carriages
(called fiakers) from either side of the venue.    

Susan, dressed as empress Sissi arrived in the golden carriage, accompanied by one of the ballet dancers from the
Vienna State Opera, portraying Kaiser Franz-Joseph. (he actually looked quite like the real Franz-Joseph)
The evening progressed with performances by the Platin Tenors, solos by Carmen, Carla and Suzan, in exquisite
gowns specially made for this concert. Several pieces of music were interlaced with the State Opera Ballet who were
dancing in the palace’s main ballroom, and could be seen thru the stage. At the end of their performance they came
out on the balcony. We could also see them on the large monitors on both sides of the stage. A guest appearance by
Frederic Jenniges playing the zither brought chuckles, due to his antics. Karl Moik, a well known talk host, did a nice
number about walking his dachshund.  The antics of Noel and Roland as they performed their “Feuerfest” or “anvil
song” were unsurpassed. They seem to be getting better every time they perform this piece and brought plenty of
laughs to the audience. The Kaiser waltz was done superbly by intermingling the ballet and ice dancing (recorded
earlier) on the large screens.
Suzan’s solo, exquisitely dressed as Sissi, could very well have been the highlight of the concert. All too soon the
Radetzky March was being played, indicating an end to this wonderful and magnificent concert. However, the
encores kept the concert going for just a bit longer to the delight of the audience.

Then that first evening Andre said he had a surprise for us.  "Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight in our audience there is
a unbelievable famous person.  There she is, and I ask her to stand up so you can all see her.   You all know her
from German Television, Ladies and Gentlemen; Carmen Nebel!"   

I will explain why she is here.  Four weeks ago she called me and said, "Andre I will make a new large show in
Austria, for ZDF, and I would like to have you as the star guest in the program.   Will you come?  "Yes, of course I
said, when is it?"   She said the 7th of July.  I told her that I could not make it on that date, I will be in Vienna.  How
about the 8th of July?  I cannot come than either, I will still be in Vienna.   What will we do, I want you in my show.   
And when Carmen Nebel wants something she sets out to get it.  So, we thought if I cannot come to you, you can
come to us.  And that is what we have done.   

I am very glad she is here, while she makes her show in Salzburg, which is about 100 km (60 miles) from here.  
Laughter from the audience.  Andre: "What? No?  How far?  300 km? (180 miles)  Is Austria that big?  I did not know
that.  300 km far!   And now we will play for her and of course for the whole audience. 'In Weisen Rossl.

He does the kissing act with Tanja.   At the end he calls "Carmen, please.   Carmen goes to the stage and Andre
walks her up to the stage. (the stairs is still out)   Carmen says: " I am very happy, he did not come to me in Salzburg,
I have had such a wonderful time, thank you.  She kisses Andre and says but I would still like to invite you to my
show.  How about November? Is that good?   Andre jokingly turns to the orchestra and says November, where are
we then, NY?   

Ladies and Gentlemen, I do have another small surprise.   The Orchestra starts to play 'Happy Birthday' In the end
Andre sings along.   It happens to be Carmen Nebel's birthday, Andre gives her a bouquet of flowers. Carmen looks
somewhat embarrassed says Thank you very much and returns to her seat.    

One more guest, DJ Oetzi, had everyone swaying and singing. All in all, it WAS a night to remember. Fantastic
music, exquisite gowns and decor, elegance, and a performance that only Andre can put together. A concert that
touches your soul.
The only consolation we had was that we would be able to see the whole thing again the next evening, with better
seats even.  

The following morning found us all on our way to the Stadtpark, for a fan get-together in front of the Johann Strauss
statue (
See inspired fan page for a report on the meeting)

After the fan meeting we went to explore Vienna a bit.  We planned to see several of the beautiful buildings.   As we
were taking  some pictures of the Opera house.  Both Bobbie and I at the same time took a picture and were a bit
annoyed just at that moment a big bus drove into our picture.   Then we realized it
was Andre's bus, we waved like mad and they recognized us and all waved back,
even the driver waved.   We had talked to him the evening before at the boutique.
What a fun surprise that was.   We continued on our trip through town and took a
bus sightseeing tour.  Vienna is a beautiful city and I would advice anyone who
                                      likes beautiful old buildings to visit it.   
                                     The palaces and churches are spectacular.
                                     The center of Vienna is easy to walk and there
                                     are many busses  that offer tours.  Vienna takes
                                     good care of all their old buildings and it shows.

                                      Time has a tendency to slip by and soon it was
                                      time to return to the hotel and prepare for yet
                                      another fantastic concert, which was just as good
                                      if not better than the night before. It too, came too soon to an end. The memories of
                                      a fantastic time in Vienna with two wonderful and beautiful concerts will be with u for
                                      a long time to come.

A leisurely trip and sightseeing tour was conducted by our small group the following day with a stop at the famous
Sacher hotel for some good Viennese coffee and sacher torte(well known cake), and a spin in the Riesenrad and
before you knew it we were on our way back to Holland with found memories and new found friends.
Hotel Bergwirt
Carla Maffioletti, Carmen Monarcha
Carmen Monarcha
John and his harem.
View from the Gloriette
The Gloriette
Side entrance.  
Poor Suzan was so hot with all that hair,
she threw it on the stage try to cool of a bit.
Andre Rieu
Thea and Janny  the Netherlands
Ineke, the Netherlands, Chris,
Philadelphia and Annemiek from
Elke from Germany
Laurie and Noel from New Jersey
Chris and Siggy from Philadelphia
Ushi and Iris from Germany
Sigrun, Gary Bennett and Anne
Practice run
Andre Rieu
Andre Rieu Vincenzo viola
FRanco Vulcano
Andre Rieu Vienna
Marjorie Rieu, Andre Rieu
Carla Maffioletti, Manoe Konings
Ruud Merx
Ineke, Ruud Merx, Janny and Thea
Carla and Manoe.
Dan the Bannerman with Steffie and Karin
Kay and Frank from Ireland
Helma and Ushi from Germany
Andre Rieu in Vienna
Robin Szolkowy and Alona Sarchenko
If you look carefully you will see a
familiar face in the audience.
Sacher Hotel
Helma, Ushi, Anne, Sonja, John, Laurie,
Sigrun, Noel and Bobbie taking the picture
Since there is a DVD from these concerts, I tried to give more of the background than the actual concert.   Here a
few more pictures you will not see on the DVD.
Karl Moik and Andre with some of the dancers
Carmen and Iris
Thanks to Sigrun I
had the most
wonderful seats.
Row 4 for the first
evening and row 6
for the second.  
John and Bobbie
danced up a storm
and that you can
see on the DVD,
What fun

Janny and Thea had brought a Cheesehat (the
Dutch are often called Kaaskoppen which translates
into cheese heads)
for me, which I was told I
absolutely had to wear during the encores.  So
there were a bunch of crazy Dutch women in front
of the stage with these silly hats on. Janny, Thea,
Ineke and I.   A half Dutch, half American.  I
waved with both the Dutch and the American flag
and we had the best time.