The audience were taking their seats – and then there was a growing whisper coming from the right hand side. The whisper grew to a chatter.
Down the steps walked a tall man in a grey suit, next to a blonde woman in a purple dress had just entered.
If you didn't know Syria you wouldn't know this was the President. There were no bodyguards and no glass screens. And not even a special seat. He took a place with the rest of the audience – ok, so it was the front row. But these were normal four-dollar seats – just five places in front of me.
At the end, the conductor called the President up on stage – he shook the hands of the performers and walked out – followed right behind by people trying to get his attention.
He spent half an hour talking to members of the public outside. And then left by the front door, and got in a normal car with his wife.