Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fairuz Wows Amsterdam

Holland Festival organizers were literally glowing with pride as legendary singer Fairuz stepped on stage on Sunday night (July 10. 2011) at Amsterdam’s Royal Theater Carré. The Lebanese diva was the closing act of the festival, which is the oldest and largest performing arts event in the country, and has been held every year in June in Amsterdam since its inception in 1947.

The creative director of the festival, Pierre Audi, who is of Lebanese descent, invested great personal effort in getting Fairuz to perform at the event. After 10 years, a deal was signed in the fall of 2010.

But the diva came at a price. No comments were made formally about the fees, but it seemed that Fairuz received in excess of $250,000 for her one and a half hour show. However, she did bring her own orchestra.

Unprecedented security measures were put in place for the performance: no cameras were allowed, not even press cameras, and every attendee was subjected to a triple body search. The queue at the entrance at one point exceeded 500 meters.

It was inevitable that the concert started almost an hour late. But once Fairuz stepped on stage, the audience enthusiastically chanted her name, while others clapped wildly and stamped their feet.

She performed a mixture of classics and new songs to an audience comprised of locals, Lebanese expatriates and Arabs from all over the Middle East. Some had even had flown over especially for the occasion. One Jordanian man who flew from Amman told NOW Extra that “it cost me a fortune to fly to Amsterdam, but I just had to see her perform live.”

Tickets prices ranged between $45 and $175. Business director of the festival Annet Lekkerkerker explained that the tickets were sold out within an hour of announcing ticket sales. In the weeks before the show, prices on the black market shot up to a stunning $300 per ticket. Since many were unable to attend the show, the concert was also relayed to a nearby park on a large screen.

But what was truly unique was the fact that half of the audience did not understand a single word of what Fairuz was singing. Two elderly ladies who attended the show said, “Wow! What a show, what a performance, and what a voice. We have no idea what she is singing about, but it sounds so incredibly beautiful.”

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