Maastricht 2014

Venetian Carnival Revelers, behind the scenes

March 2017.

A Maastricht resident, member of the Maastricht Operetta Association, Marie-Jeanne Huinck, allowed us to share her behind the scenes experiences about

the Venetian Carnival Revelers

who increased the Italian atmosphere during the 2014 Vrijthof concerts with the theme “Venice”. Thank you very much Marie-Jeanne! Very interesting to read your story!

Translation by Ineke, assisted by John.


The invitation.

The invitation to participate in the Vrijthof concerts of 2014, which would carry the theme "Venice", was received by the Mestreechter Operètte Vereiniging (MOV), {Maastricht Operetta Association} at the end of June 2014. The invitation was looking for a group of extras (who would be transformed into Venetian carnival revelers), in order to increase the Italian atmosphere on the square. About 20 members of the operetta association signed up for this event. One of them, Marie-Jeanne Huinck, wrote a report of her experiences. She only recently sent us (in March 2017) her report, and we are allowed to publish her report on the Harmony Parlor and our movies website (along with other reports of the 2014 concert series). Thank you so much Marie-Jeanne!

Costume fittings

The people who had signed up for this event, had to come on two Thursday evenings to the André Rieu studio for fitting sessions. Upon arrival we were welcomed by people from  André Rieu Productions (ARP), who accompanied us in small groups to the costume workshop, which is located across the street from the studio in a large warehouse. Very noticeable and present, a large army tank, Pierre Rieu's hobby. In the back of the warehouse is the workshop where six women showed us the costumes, colorful and fanciful. It was exciting to try them on, since not all sizes were available, but in the end we all ended up with a costume. Marjorie came in afterwards and greeted me warmly because some time ago we had attended the same elementary school together. We were asked to go to the studio across the street in costume, where André was. He welcomed us, showed us the beautiful studio and explained what the purpose for this was. We would parade over the Vrijthof as Venetian carnival revelers. Not loud and obnoxious  as during the Maastricht carnival, but striding slowly, dignified, distinguished, and without speaking. One by one we had to pose for André. He watched with a critical eye and gave instructions to the seamstress and fashion designer, who wrote it all down. Everyone's name was noted and a picture taken. One was required to wear white stockings, another a brown mask, some one else black Mozart shoes, yet another extra feathers. Marjorie showed us a large feather mask. That was nice, but there was only one. André asked her: Where did you buy that? In Rome.... Oh, who is going to Rome this week? No one,  so other masks were being used. Shoes, and all the things which were lacking, will be rented. André, Marjorie and the ladies from the costume department are in the know of every detail and are up to date with the costume history and they know exactly how everything should be combined. After this first evening of fittings, they will be going to work for us and next week we will have to come back and go through it all again. In the meantime we were provided with coffee, tea and bottled water. I secretly thought: "These people achieve a lot!

I would not be able to sleep..."

On the 2nd Thursday evening we again tried on all the garments which were shortened, lengthened or changed last week. We again had to pose, and all details were looked at again. For some, other shoes again, another knee socks, different wigs and so it went. Now, the make-up artists were present to cast their gaze on the entire operation. After posing we received instructions for the dress rehearsal of the following week. André said: "You might have found me to be very strict last week, but now it is going to be more fun. How better everything gets, the more fun I become...."

General rehearsal.

As a member of the Maastricht Operetta Association, I am familiar with the artist's entrance of the Theatre on the Vrijthof. On the day of the dress rehearsal, I reported around 2PM.  I was met by an ARP person, who provided me with a badge, lanyard and a guest card. We were directed to the rehearsal hall of the LSO (Limburg Symphony Orchestra) at the top of the theater, a place we had never been before. Here, the make-up artists, hairdressers and dressmakers were already present. Everywhere mirrors, lamps and attributes, such as wigs and make-up in all colors. Artificial eyelashes and costumes were also to be found. After one and a half hours I was made-up: two colored eyes, red cheeks, red lips, white skin and pasted eyelashes. Then the hair dresser arrived and a wig was placed on me.

At 6PM we went down stairs, made-up and with a wig, but not yet in costume. At the stage of the theater a hot and cold buffet stood at the ready. Then suddenly you see all the orchestra members still in their regular clothes and you eat cauliflower along with three Russians, Mr. Jenniges of the Zither act, Mirusia and tenors. I called my husband, who would take pictures on the Vrijthof, but I really was not recognizable. He would only be able to recognize me in my red knee socks!

Once we were all in costume, we were asked to go outside around 9PM. The audience was allowed free access to the square during the dress rehearsal. Already a lot of pictures of us were being taken. Once we were at the stage we were given instructions what to do further. For control a few ARP people and MOV people walked unnoticed with us. We fulfilled our role in total silence.

Concert evenings.

Every day we have to be present again in the theater in the afternoon. There we are made up and styled. Furthermore we are being spoiled terribly with the food [today "Zoervleis (a sort stew) with fries"], drinks and also with an umbrella service, for when it rains. The staff was constantly walking around with the "radar" under their arms, and suddenly there were 25 umbrellas available for us in all colors befitting our costumes. We could somewhat shelter ourselves under the Rialto Bridge. The audience at the Vrijthof was wrapped in plastic ponchos. They looked like turkeys which just came out of the freezer... We feel like "the royal family" when around 8PM we descend the stone stairs of the platform to go to the square. That's such a beautiful moment! Very emotional and Nellie (Custers, Linda's mother), our seamstress, ever shed a tear as we left ....

Sometimes people spoke to me about my costume, but I was not allowed to speak. Their response: "They must certainly be Italians, since they do not understand me..." In the case of rain, we can walk through the garage below the square to behind the stage, and then we can be on the stage until André arrives at 9PM, where we then congregate under the Rialto bridge. Our permanent supervisors at ARP are twins, Nicole and Monique. Today they celebrate their birthdays: together they are 100 years old. They work with ARP in the Department for hotel bookings, flight- and bus tours, applying for visas, etc.

André freed them so they could guide us and with that, there was nothing left to be desired. Two nice, humorous people, who instructed us quietly and surrounded us like invisible guardian angels while on the Vrijthof, with or without the colorful umbrellas. In the make-up space, which is as big as a medium sized gym room, there was a table with cans of lemonade, cookies placed about, bottled mineral water and with their continued presence, that gave us so much fun and relaxation. Nellie, the seamstress, who made all these costumes, was constantly present with a wicker case. She was always ready for us to literally repair anything that was loose or needed to be fixed. There were costumes which needed to be shortened or made longer every day and that was done by hand in peace and with a big smile. Before we all went out everything had to be perfectly in order. Nothing was provisionally fastened with safety pins or patches. If necessary, jewelry or shoe buckles were fastened with super glue.

On one of the evenings they informed us that after the concert there would be a photo session for the cover photo of the DVD and CD. Our make-up at the end of the evening was again touched-up by the make-up artists and after the fireworks and the end of the concert, we were all placed by André around the fountain near the Rialto bridge. Every time André counted to three, we had to select a different pose. I also had an unexpected chance meeting with Rocco Granata, who said: "Buona Sera" to me. The fans on the square also stayed around for the photo session and they too took many photos.

After each series of concerts someone from the organization came around with a large laundry basket to collect all the white clothes which were to be washed.

It was such a wonderful experience! We all together enjoyed such a fun atmosphere! Something so special, to be part of such a professional organization, is something  which you will not easily forget.


Note: The DVD of this Italian Vrijthof concert is called "Love in Venice."

There is a CD under the same title, and there is also a CD (with a different bonus DVD there) with only Italian music, called "Roman Holiday".

      Photos: fans got in the mood too!                       And… turkeys from the freezer….


September 2014.

By Marie-Jeanne Huinck.

After the series of the Vrijthof concerts in July 2014 (Love in Venice), the Maastricht Operetta Association received again an invitation from  André Rieu to have a few Venetian Carnival revelers present at the international press to promote his new Italian album "Roman Holiday".  Place of gathering: André's castle.

"Of course we would love to participate again!

Subsequently we received schedules for the make-up sessions, free parking was organized, and we also received small assignments such as: “bring your pictures from last time, so that the make-up artists know how to apply your make-up, bring black shoes and/or long red stockings for some of the assignments.….”

At the appointed time in the early morning hours the Maastricht's Operetta association personnel arrived in front of the castle's main gate. A security person in uniform allowed us in. On the grounds was a big white tent with a wooden floor, which was the make-up and wig department. We were received with cheers, since they knew us from the last time. It was very nice to see each other once again. Immediately vlaais (pastry), bread, coffee, tea and water appeared on the table. The costumes were hanging on one side of the tent, the make-up tables, mirrors, lamps were on the other side. There was a lot happening on the castle grounds. We were not allowed to stroll about and stayed in the vicinity of the tent. In the distance we saw nice screens being placed and many little trees in pots were placed in front of the toilet cabin. After a while André appeared, chatted some here and there and afterwards we received our instructions. According to the plan, all journalists (about 70, from Argentine, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France, the UK and the USA) would first visit the studios in Amby (a district in Maastricht). Then, together with the orchestra they all would receive a demonstration as to how a CD is made. Afterwards they were brought by bus to the castle and that is where our task would start. We were not allowed to speak, not to move too much, and not respond to photographer's requests. Around  11.30 AM we were all offered a meal: an Italian platter, very special and delicious. When Marjorie entered, she took us to the inner castle's yard which contains a big fountain in the center. Marjorie gave us more instructions and she emphasized that André would determine where photos would be taken. We were all assigned places in the inner yard and awaited to whatever would take place. Behind us was the big Orangerie, the butterfly- and tropical plants greenhouse. In front of it an elongated pond.

After a while the bus with the journalists arrived. Many cameras, small, big, bigger, including stands of various sizes. The weather was beautiful and when everyone had arrived, André climbed on a platform, spoke and took charge. He gave instructions to the journalists in English and told them: “No communications with Venetians, they were not allowed to speak. You can now take photos. In 10 minutes we'll continue again”.

After 10 minutes we walked through a small gate to a lawn for more photos. A crowd of journalists is in front of us including André, and we constantly heard the click-click-clicks of the cameras. Yes, then you feel like you are a member of the royal family…… Above us flew a drone, also taking photos. After the photo session we returned to our places near the castle, where fold-out tables were placed, and where champagne for the journalists was being served. It was an enjoyable get together. The journalists took more photos of the surroundings and us. To keep up the Italian atmosphere, André had placed an ice cream stall in a corner, where guests could obtain an ice cream. André and Pierre were also interviewed.

After about an hour, our part was finished. Alternately we were requested to disappear slowly and quietly, with elegant reverences and curtseys to the guests. And so we all returned to the white tent. There we also received our well-deserved champagne. We all changed into our normal attire, said goodbye to the make-up and hairdressers group and everyone went on their own way.

This was again an unforgettable experience, cared for into the smallest details, and so enjoyable. Later on we heard that André and Marjorie had praised us and the session had produced beautiful pictures for the international press".