It snowed overnight and the view through the window looks like the proverbial Winter Wonderland.
Unfortunately, a week of warmer weather will wash all this away, but not at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope where, everywhere there was a space, there is now a Christmas tree. There seemed to be well over 50 trees, lit and decorated in different styles and donated for a draw on Dec. 18.
Last Friday night at the Mark DuBois Christmas Celebration, there were trees on stage, too, which combined with strands of coloured lights around and across the auditorium -- all of them slowly changing from red to blue to green to white with all the possible combinations of these colours. Sometimes the lights on the stage and in the auditorium were all the same colour, and sometimes they contrasted. It was beautiful, and this was all before the concert began.
For those of you unfamiliar with Mark DuBois, he is a lyric tenor who sings with long flowing phrases and beautiful soft top notes. He is capable of taking a note and swelling to a fortissimo and then fade it back to nothing. He uses the same skills whether he is singing Schubert's Ave Maria or Lloyd Webber's Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera, or In the Bleak Mid-Winter with the lovely words by Christina Rossetti.
Mr. DuBois is Canadian and, unlike all the Irish and Scottish and Italian tenors one hears today, can sing in beautifully clear English, when he isn't singing (equally clearly) in another language. He sang, and acted, a fabulous imitation of Pavarotti singing O Sole Mio. Mr. DuBois also acted as emcee for the evening, introducing the songs and the singers with humour. This worked well, and the audience didn't need a program with the songs listed in it.
The accompanist for the evening was Danny McErlain who was unbelievable. His versatility and his feeling for every nuance of the singer were superb. One selection which really struck me was O Holy Night, which he played without music, and in which he turned the piano into a virtual orchestra. He and Mark DuBois worked as if their minds were melded into one.
There were also a couple of surprises for the evening. Mr. DuBois had brought along one of his pupils and also his daughter. Nickie Minshall, the pupil, has a lovely soprano voice which, while it has a lot of developing to do, is already very pleasing for the listener.
In particular, she seemed to enjoy the opportunity to "belt out" some of the more pop-style songs, but she is learning the techniques of the "master", beginning to control her voice beautifully in such songs as Think of Me from Phantom, and also Michael Head's The Little Road to Bethlehem which she sang with Mr. DuBois. She showed considerable poise on stage, managing her high heels with style. Fortunately, too, she also showed her youth and naivete; she is still at high school.
Elisabeth DuBois, at just nine years of age, showed remarkable aplomb in a beautiful violet organza floor-length gown with a stole.
Her voice was exceedingly strong and steady for a girl of her age. We gather that she is into acting, at present appearing professionally at Theatre Orangeville, and has a long list of other interests from dance to horseback riding.
Altogether a wonderful evening with even a little audience participation ending with all three singers and the audience singing Felices Navidad, and yes, a well-deserved standing ovation.