The Dreams of Mark DuBois
By Sybille Forster-Rentmeister
A lot can and should be said about one of Canada’s best
When he performs his annual concert in the Hansa House on
Highway 10, right on the cusp of Mississauga and Brampton, on top of
Toronto, the community facility turns into a festive hall, ready to worship
the best of all mankind’s endeavours, the arts. Billed as "Mark
DuBois and Friends" the presentation travels through a musical world as
divers of our community. But before the concert starts a sumptuous dinner is
served. This year was no different, except for the musical offering during
the meal. Instead of something canned everything, not just the food, was
fresh and live...
after a brief introduction by an in-house MC, Mark DuBois arrived with his
friends, or at least some of them. For all of them there would be no room at
the club or any other venue. There simply are too many of them, and they are
busy performing on the stages of the world, as it should be.
It is our very good fortune that Mark does honour his agreement with the club,
and even turns down other engagements offered afterwards to sing in our
community. Not everyone in the same class as Mark DuBois will do that. Most
will no doubt drop a less paying private club evening for a more profitable
and prestigious stage engagement. Not Mark DuBois, whose promise has been
good and always kept with us.
is a unique opportunity for people to be extremely close to the artists. The
space between stage and public is not interrupted by an orchestra pit. The
artists come down from their lofty height and wander among us mere mortals
between the tables, touch us and allow themselves be touched and looked at
from close quarters. They come so close, one could smell the grease paint if
they were wearing any.
This evening unfolded with a short good humour welcome and introduction by Mark
before he launched into his first offering, an all time favourite from Lehar’s
Merry Widow, to be followed by a duet with the beautiful and dramatic
soprano Heidi Klassen, the Drinking Song from La Traviata...
Song after aria the audiences’ admiration for the artists grew, so well
accompanied by Brahm Goldhamer. With each performance the intensity of
So many favourites were heard. It was a delight to hear songs and arias from
opera, operetta and Broadway shows. Each and everyone deserve to be written
up in detail, if it were not for the shortage of space in a newspaper. But
it must be said, that before the break in the program 14 very exiting pieces
were sung, each one of them to major acclaim of the audience, often with
open applause, for instance when Mark DuBois sang "Wien Du Stadt
the intermission another 9 grand arias were performed, making this a
full-length evening program.
second part, as did the first, contained some incredible choices. Gisèle
and Mark sang, totally unrehearsed!, "The Prayer", made famous by
Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli; Mark sang "My boy Bill" and
revealed that after 4 daughters he was finally going to be the father of a
son in the near future...
The evening would not be complete without Mark's incomparable persiflage of the 3
tenors, and especially one of them, showing us that he can not only sing as
well and as high, but that he also has a much bigger hanky than you know
who, while singing O Sole Mio with as much schmaltz and flourish as the
The Champagne Song from the Fledermaus was the perfect
closing, showing off one more time the three beautiful voices of these
gifted artists. The persistent applause made them sing "I could have
danced all night" from My Fair Lady, and then, late in the evening the
concert finally came to an end.
Wegner, who had again helped to put this event together for the club, and MC
Klaus Rückert handed the ladies beautiful bouquets before everyone took one
It was not long afterwards that the artists came back again for a photo session
with Opera York’s board of directors, which was introduced earlier with
other mention of sponsors and dignitaries by Mark DuBois, who was appointed
Artistic Director for the opera.
The 5-year-old opera services the immense region north of
Toronto, encompassing a big cultural mix, dominantly of oriental origin in
the Markham area, a huge Italian contingent in Woodbridge and Vaughan, as
well as all sorts of other groups living in Thornhill, Richmond Hill,
Newmarket and Aurora. This large area constitutes a mega city by itself.
Mark’s desire and pledge is to entertain and service this
diverse district to its benefit. Already the overwhelming success of the
"Opera for Schools" programme is bringing about great change. Many
artists bemoan the scrapping of music appreciation in our schools for
generations of children, but few are doing something about it. Together with
Suzanne Kompass and Gisèle Fredette thousands of students were already
introduced to opera and operetta as well as modern musical theatre. And mostly they
loved it, even though they thought they would loathe it before, simply
because they had no idea what it was.
In the next season thousands more of Canada’s young people
will learn about the pleasures music can give, how exciting opera can be,
and how close operetta is really to one of their favourite soaps on TV,
except the theatrical version is shorter and has music in it, which is in
fact very cool and often very sexy to boot.
Early next year, on January 7, 2002, a concert series for
seniors will be started. This series is designed for senior groups of 20 and
up. Tickets are only $7.50 and include the bus trip to the theatre! What a
wonderful way to while away the cold winter! Call Maria to book your group
York is the proud recipient of the prestigious Trillium Award which awarded
the organization $42,600 to fund a part-time assistant and the development
of a new education kit, including a CD of music by Canadian artists from the
For more information on the company, its artists and program
you can access their website at www.operayork.com.
The next project for Opera York is the annual fund raiser
called " For the Love of a Tenor", featuring none other than Mark
DuBois and world-renowned cantor Paul Kowarsky, Donna Bennett, soprano,
Gisèle Fredette, mezzo-soprano, and pianist Brian Finley. Following the
performance is a wine and cheese reception where the artists can be met. For
tickets and more information call 416-469-0086 or consult the advertisement
in this issue.
Some of Canada’s finest musical organizations are
faltering despite their good work and establishment. What we need is a
bigger audience to support these companies of artists. Opera York is the
only one doing what has been so sorely missing for a long time, namely the
education of young people in the joy of music. No matter how hard times have
been people have always turned to music to sustain them. It is vital that we
participate in such an endeavour, for ourselves and for our children, for
our future well-being.
It is Mark DuBois’ dream to sing for a long time to people
of all ages, but especially to a new and young audience that before only
favoured modern and popular sounds.