Mark DuBois - World Renowned Lyric Tenor
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Music Education With An "Eye And Ear On" Approach

By Sybille Forster-Rentmeister
Echo Germanica

... Together with sports activities and other endeavours that could make the mental facilities of a student agile and fit, music has taken a backseat for too long. That is why Opera York set out to remedy this sorry situation. Under the leadership of tenor Mark DuBois the opera has set out last year to bring back to schools what has been so missing. The approach is totally, if not hands on, definitely eyes and ears on. Classes of similar age and grades are brought to the Vaughan Playhouse to listen to a concert, a concert of a very special kind.

When we went the auditorium was packed to the last seat with writhing noisy children. And then the light went dim and after a brief introduction tenor Mark DuBois stepped onto the stage. Even though he is still recovering from his severe accident in late December, he would not have it any other way. He just had to be there, it was simply too important not to let the kids down. Besides, there is no one else we can imagine bringing the subject of opera and musical theatre of any kind to life like him. His personable style has delighted audiences in many places the world over. If anyone could interest kids into opera it would be him and his handpicked team of friends and singers.

He explained, as he went along, what opera is, how it was done ages ago, and got the kids involved at every turn. There were a lot of Violettas and Alfredos in the audience that day, or those who would like to be.

The noisy din of children’s voices from before the show started was now an interested murmur of appreciation, or delighted laughter at what they saw, heard and started to understand. Opera was about life, and just like life it was a soap opera that sounded awfully good and was neat to look at.

The boys of course loved when Suzanne Kompass or Gisèle Fredette came down from the stage into the audience to let them have a close up look, smell a touch of grease paint make-up, be touched on the cheek by an opera star, sexy Carmen to boot!

The girls went pretty wild when Mark went into the audience with his big hanky, reminiscent of Pavarotti.

Last year already thousands of children were introduced to opera this way, and this year there will be many thousands more.

The time went by much too fast to the regret of students and faculty. But minds were touched, sensibilities awakened, doors and windows to the art of opera and musical theatre were created and opened.

We wish this would happen all over the country, because if it isn’t, then the art of Mozart and Puccini will be forgotten along with the music of Bach and Beethoven.

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