Once when I lived in London, England, I bought myself a beautiful black cape. It is velvet, with a silk lining and is cut in such a way that it drapes over the shoulders, leaving the arms free, as well as making an elegant flow of black down one's back.
I wore it, about three years ago, to a concert of Mark DuBois, well known Canadian tenor, who lives in Hockley Valley. A few weeks later, when he was preparing for a concert of Broadway music, he asked me: "Didn't I see you in a black cape that evening a couple of weeks ago?"
When I said yes, I was wearing such a garment, he asked if he could borrow it for his "Music of the Night" scene from "Phantom". Naturally, I was happy to lend it to him.
Since then, my cape has been on many stages and has sung with several symphony orchestras. It has seen a lot more of Canada than I have. From Vancouver to Halifax, it has accompanied its tenor across the country, adding its own panache to his singing of "Music of the Night" in many cities of this nation and the United States.
When I asked Mark recently about the travel experiences of my cape, he mentioned some of its numerous stops: Thunder Bay, Port Hope, Quebec City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Peterborough, Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall, Hamilton and Orangeville, as well as the aforementioned Vancouver and Halifax, just to name some of them.
"It always goes with the mask that I made," Mark told me. "I bought a full face mask and cut it to make a Phantom mask. That one is starting to wear out, though; I might look for a new one."
Not my cape, though, which is still in fine fettle as Mark takes such good care of it. Next week, it is making its way to Calgary for a concert at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, where Mark will perform two evenings of show music.
This Christmas brought a punishingly full schedule to the DuBois family. Not only did Mark have a long list of concerts but he was also tied to rehearsals for "Wiener Blut," The operetta at the St. Lawrence Centre staged from late December to early January. He thoroughly enjoyed doing "Wiener Blut," in which he played the lead role, with the Toronto Operetta Theatre (TOT). This is the only professional operetta company in Canada.
In addition to all this, following the axiom about the apple and the tree, nine year-old Elisabeth DuBois, Mark's and Maria's daughter, was engaged in her first professional acting job with Theatre Orangeville's production of Kringle's Window. Although her part was a small one, she was obligated to participate fully in all November rehearsals and the 21 performances from 1st December until the 21st.
She took part in some of the concerts, especially the one in Barrie, with a fully symphony orchestra, and sang with Mark's much older students.
Said Mark of his daughter's possible future in the entertainment business. "I won't be pushing her - she'll develop at her own rate. She has done some very challenging things - I insist that she sings in other languages: German, French, Latin. So she is not doing just kid's repertoire anymore. She's taking step dancing and piano and she loves the choral work that she does with TOYS (Theatre Orangeville Youth Singers). She is a team player and that is very important. She is a natural dancer too, as was my mother and as Maria is."
Mark commented that he loves teaching. Of his 17 students, a few have gone on to university and even now they are all trying to find a day a week when they can get together with Mark for their much loved and very important vocal lessons.
Having hit the landmark birthday of 50, Mark is happy with his performance. As he explained: "The tenor voice is the last to mature. You hit your peak at 50, as a tenor."
In the last few years, he has also done directing, conducting, casting and designing. While he enjoys all aspects of the business, Mark generally works on productions where he also does the singing. When he produced the Barber of Seville at the Markham Theatre, he conducted rather than sang.
Although he would like to do more conducting, his preference is to sing the parts - and his fans agree!
Over the course of last year, Mark became the General Director of the Centuries Opera Company, which was based in Lawrence Park, Toronto, and for which shows were staged at the Markham Theatre. Although, at the moment, the company is quiet, it is not closed and Mark looks forward to revitalizing it.
All in due course.
In the meantime, I wonder if my singing cape will send me a postcard from Calgary.