LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS. The guest soloist was tenor Mark DuBois who took command over the orchestra; the conductor; the audience; and a fair bit of downtown Oakville. The man is magnificent. Recovering from a serious car accident and a recent family addition, he shows no loss of power or ability.
The style of the concert is rather carefree and comedic in the mode of Fiedler's Boston Symphony AFTERNOON AT THE POPS. In other words HAMIYSHE. I must confess to being philistine enough to thoroughly enjoy CONCERT-LITE!
DuBois chose three selections from Lehar's MERRY WIDOW. Sung in perfect German, and explained with a stand-up comic's timing and presentation, we almost expected a drum-roll each time he dropped his zingers. Even that other Oakville paper was the brunt of a punchline. Then some drama; the aria, UNA FURTIVA LAGRIMA by Donizetti that had my eyes misting. The man can evoke the staging, setting, and visceral reaction with the force of his magnificent voice. Whether using the mike or un-amplified five rows into the audience, the whole theatre doesn't miss a note. The romantic SORRENTO, was sung personally to two beautiful ladies - Ann & Katie Harveyhope, sitting in front of us. Another wet-eye reaction when he sang MARIA from Bernstein's WEST SIDE STORY which was introduced on Broadway by my late cousin Larry Kert.
I have a prejudice against the works of Lloyd Webber, feeling his shows are one-hit wonders (rather than the dozen or so standards from the musicals of the '50's & '60's). Long on staging and special effects... short on the memorable songs. Upon hearing DuBois interpret Phantom's MUSIC OF THE NIGHT I may change my attiutude. It was here that I noticed Maestro DeClara taking his lead from the soloist, as if Mark were holding the baton. This says as much for Roberto as it does of Mark.
Next the requisite RULE BRITANNIA and Elgar's POMP & CIRCUMSTANCE#1 with audience participation and flag waving. (Dear audience - forgive my lone Stars & Stripes but it WAS 8 months to the day since the second WTC tower collapsed). In any case, there were also RCAF and Maple Leafs' flags spotted among the myriad Union Jacks.
Lastly, an encore. The soloist's favourite song - DANNY BOY. That's when I lost it and needed to mop up the tears. That, my readers, is what music should be able to do. Entertain - yes, amuse - also, but mostly bring out strong reaction. Our Symphony, and the soloist, certainly fulfilled those mandates...
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