Mark DuBois - World Renowned Lyric Tenor
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DuBois impresses with presence and performance

By Tricia Leslie
The Peace Arch Newspaper

Charm and power.

Though it's hard to find just two words to sum up the performance of Canadian tenor Mark DuBois, who sang here Friday night, the standing ovation he received from his appreciative audience seemed to say it all.

The power of his voice and the charm he lavished on the crowd served him well, making Friday a laughter-filled evening packed with excellent singing and an unforgettable encore.

White Rock Concerts president Rick Gambrel introduced DuBois and his accompanist on the piano, Brahm Goldhamer, for their second concert of this year's four-show series. Gambrel also asked the sold-out crowd to fill out the questionnaires tucked into their programs, designed to find out if patrons want "more of a good thing" - in this instance, a six-concert series next year.

After Goldhamer and DuBois, both elegantly garbed in tuxedos, settled themselves in the spotlight, they immediately impressed the audience with J. Youmans' Without a Song. Was 'power' mentioned?

For the power of DuBois' voice rang through the church from the first note uttered, lifting the crowd high with soaring crescendos or lulling them into softer, sweeter tones - all apparently effortless.

DuBois commanded his voice well - it was apparent to all gathered that he holds immense control over his vocal ability, something he has worked on for years.

His busy career on opera and concert stages has seen him perform all over Canada, the U.S., Italy, France, Austria and more. He's been featured in TV specials such as Handel's Messiah and Bach's Magnificat, and has made numerous radio and CD recordings, including his own (solo recording) Viens, Gentille Dame, from CBC Records.

DuBois introduced his next song, Franz Schubert's Standchen, while telling the audience about some of the German lyrics.

He enthused about the word Liebersmertz, which means love's pain - "Great word, 'smertz'" he joked, then poked fun at other funny-sounding lyrics.

He and Goldhamer took the crowd through love's sorrow and pain, the tune light but melancholy, with 'liebersmertz' (love's pain) dripping from his voice.

Most pieces DuBois performed had German or French lyrics, but interpretation wasn't necessary.

His body language, the use of his hands, and his facial expressions said it all, from sadness to joy, misery turned into amorous intent. He cut a striking figure onstage, tall and broad-shouldered, with a dramatic streak of white starting at his right temple.

Next, he and Goldhamer led the audience through four songs from Schubert's Die Schone Mullerin song cycle, entitled Stay, Thanks to the Brook, The Eager Questioner and Mine...

Goldhamer's versatility and strength were obvious throughout this performance, his fingers jumping lightly over the keys in Stay, but racing madly and excitedly across the keyboard for the fast-paced, joyous Mine.

He and DuBois have performed together for 20 years, their closeness evident when DuBois made sudden changes to the program, changes that may have been catastrophic for a fledgling accompanist, and they laughed it off.

Though DuBois was fighting a cold, there was no apparent effect on his voice, aside from a slight cough here and there, during the breaks between songs.

With antics and facial quirks, DuBois made four English folk songs from Benjamin Britten an entertaining delight, four light-hearted, happy songs of life's simple pleasures and delights.

Schubert's Ave Maria was pure and beautiful, filled with emotion and the power of DuBois' voice, while a modern piece, Shenandoah, brought to mind adventure and the frontier, the need to travel and to see new places.

Henri Duparc's Chanson Triste, sad and full of longing, gave way to a spur-of-the-moment piece DuBois chose to sing, about trying to remember "the kind of September, when life was so tender." a song of remembered happiness, perhaps chosen to echo events of this September.

After an intermission break, DuBois and Goldhamer were back to immediately charm the crowd with one of Mozart's most tender arias, Constanze, with DuBois singing as a young man telling Constanze of his dreams of their home together, but what he does not know is that his beloved is dying.

Gentle and graceful, this performance drew audible "mmmms" and "aaaahhhhs" from the crowd as soon as DuBois let his last note fade completely away.

DuBois next led his listeners to seven songs (out of 19) from Robert Schumann's
Dichterliebe, Opus 48, seven tunes that ranged from quick and frantic to serious and slow, with all the lyrics translated for the audience in the program.

Many ladies sitting in the front rows were pleasantly surprised when DuBois serenaded them with a Giuseppe Di Stephano piece (not on the program) and Franz Lehar's Yours is my Heart Alone, with DuBois even bending to kiss female hands, his savoir faire and charm shining through.

After a hilarious short song about mother-in-laws-to-be (Ivor Novello, And Her Mother Came, Too), DuBois kept the laughter ringing as he set out to portray one of the famous Three Tenors, telling the audience to guess which one. It wasn't hard.

Legs planted, arms spread, he belted out O Sole Mio with extravagance and aplomb, over-exaggerating on the vibrato and holding his notes for far too long, even checking his watch in the midst of singing.

With a white handkerchief draped from his open right palm (a trademark Pavarotti gesture by the way), he decided it wasn't quite large enough and to complete the side-splitting parody, he pulled out a tablecloth-size white 'handkerchief' to amuse the crowd.

All these antics went on as his voice continued to overwhelm the laughing listeners - he held the final note so long it was overdone, Pavarotti-style but a perfect ending for an entertaining evening.

After crashing applause and a standing ovation from the entire sold-out crowd, he and Goldhamer were back for an encore, one that brought lumps to throats and tears to the eyes - they said their farewell to White Rock with a classic farewell song of emotion and power; Danny Boy.

With his mighty voice and persuasive charm, and with Goldhamer at his side, DuBois gave a performance that truly deserved the standing ovation it received.

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