One of Barbra Streisand's greatest roles was her portrayal of comedian Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl." And comedians, of course, subscribe to the long-lived show-biz motto that one should "always leave 'em laughing."
But Sunday night, as Ms. Streisand finished her final encore at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim in California, the big room was awash in tears.
After all, the 52-year-old Ms. Streisand had performed the final show of her first tour in 28 years -- a tour she swears will be her last.
Because the concert had been postponed from May 31 because of the singer's laryngitis, it meant that 13,000 cheering, whistling, stomping fans -- many of whom forked over $350 for a ticket -- unexpectedly got to witness show-business history.
"You take our breath away!" one fan screamed.
And as the evening swelled to conclusion -- after standing ovations for every song, cries from the audience declaring love and admiration -- Ms. Streisand called the tour an adventure that helped "conquer some of my fears" of performing live. "There's a time and place for everything," she declared, clearly delighted with the evening.
Did those in the audience consider themselves to be among the luckiest people in the world? You barely had to ask.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Trish Bray, 30, of San Clemente, who came to the show with her mother. "My mom said that we would never get to see Elvis, so we should come and see Barbra Streisand."
Perhaps no one came farther to see the show than Reiko Shimizu, 41, of Hamamatsu, Japan. For weeks, she and a group of friends have trailed the Streisand tour; Sunday was Ms. Shimizu's sixth show.
Before the show -- which was taped by HBO for a future special and live album -- Ms. Streisand admirers gobbled up tour memorabilia while they watched a stream of gleaming stretch limousines glide into the Pond's parking lot and deposit such celebrities as Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine -- and even Ms. Streisand's mother.
The tour, which kicked off in London in April, featured a well-oiled production. Ms. Streisand deviated little from the script. She offered up a few political pronouncements amid an autobiographical, greatest-hits repertoire.
But greatest hits were exactly what the adoring crowd wanted, and Ms. Streisand didn't disappoint. Her full, soaring voice -- often mimicked but never duplicated -- graced many of her certified classics: "People," "The Way We Were," "Happy Days Are Here Again," "On a Clear Day," and on and on.
Every song was greeted with a standing ovation. At "Maybe We Love You," the audience called out: "We love you. Don't leave."