Mark DuBois - World Renowned Lyric Tenor
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Opera York's Success Wave

By Sybille Forster-Rentmeister
Echo Germanica

When the founders of Opera York approached Canadian tenor Mark DuBois to be the artistic director for the budding company they probably had no idea how quickly their smart choice would pay back. Every impresario always hopes to make it with a new project, but in our fickle marketplace even the most thought out plan can go awry. After only one very short season under Mark DuBois’ artistic direction the opera has garnered more success than ever before. The membership has grown in unprecedented numbers, the concerts produced unusual numbers and the latest Gala with a silent auction was a smash hit with over 460 people attending and bidding on everything from fine wine to paintings.

Maureen Forrester (c.) with the President (r.) and the V.P. (l.) of Opera York

The gala concert itself was a marvel to behold. A wonderful Italian dinner, prepared by the chefs of the Famee Furlane, was enjoyed by all. The great hall was decorated lovingly and guests could wonder around and silently bid on a huge array of items. In the centre below the stage was the table with Mark’s parents and some very special guests: Maureen Forrester and her companion, the very entertaining Richard Boone. Maureen Forrester was incredibly gracious throughout the night and posed endlessly for photos. Anyone who had brought a camera wanted to take home this memento with one of Canada’s great divas, a living legend.

After dinner the concert started. Mark DuBois had gathered around himself the artists and friends that always guarantee success. Mark himself, though not even fully recovered from the latest surgery after his Christmastime accident, looked and sounded fantastic. In fact he sang never better, in our recollection. Gisele Fredette looked particularly smashing that night and sang with extraordinary charm and passion. Somehow she had brought an extra dose of joie de vivre for this special evening. She was definitely at her best. Bruce Kelly also pulled all registers of his warm and wonderful baritone. The playful sparring between Mark the Tenor and Bruce the Baritone were almost believable because that night the ladies were truly hard pressed to pick a favourite.

Suzanne Kompass was the icing on the cake you might say, looking sweet and vulnerable as usual. All were accompanied by the incredibly competent and talented Danny McErlain.

After many favourite opera arias from Mozart, Verdi, Bizet, Strauss and others a break was the respite everyone needed before the big surprise of the evening. What everyone had secretly hoped for happened, Maureen Forrester went on stage to sing. A spellbound audience listened as the great old Dame of Canadian Opera, well, what did she do? She bewitched everyone in the hall. People stopped breathing as she sang "Mon Coeur", a song she had made famous long ago. Her pitch is absolutely perfect, her diction is superb, you cannot miss a word, her emotional output is very strong and her presence is incredibly commanding, What is a person to do but listen and forget to breath for fear that this performance might turn out to be a mirage if in fact we do breathe. Everyone knew that they had witnessed greatness, pure and simple.

After this marvel Mark DuBois changed hats and conducted a couple of local choirs: the Coro Voci Friuli, a female choir and Coro Santa Cecilia, a male choir. This brought a different flavour to the evening that was unforgettable. Happy and saturated with the glory of some of Canada’s best voices everyone collected the treasure they had bid on and won to take home.

For the board of directors the evening exceeded all expectations and previous endeavours, which goes to show what can happen when you hire a Canadian treasure who commands a lot of good friends, who will come at the drop of a hat or for his asking, to run the show for you.

After this concert and previously Mark DuBois and his friends had already educated students in the fine art of opera and musical theatre. Almost immediately after this gala Mark went to Bermuda to bring the concept of his mission to 5000 students in Bermuda.

Creating an interest and understanding in opera and related musical fields guarantees future audiences and anyone contributing to that deserves our applause.

Opera York has found a most unique and lively way to bring art to young people. The dozens of letters and essays written by the students are wonderful to read. They also demonstrate how important such work is and that young people are easily interested in other music than the modern and ultra modern genre. When Mark and his friends are through with them they think opera is cool, real cool.

Congratulations Opera York for helping to keep the art of musical theatre in all its forms alive for future generations.

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