Mark DuBois - World Renowned Lyric Tenor
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The Dreams of Mark DuBois

By Sybille Forster-Rentmeister
Echo Germanica

A lot can and should be said about one of Canada’s best loved tenors.

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...


Finally, 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.


It 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 emotions grew...


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 meiner Träume".

After the intermission another 9 grand arias were performed, making this a full-length evening program.


The 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 original.

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.


Lou 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 last bow.

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 at 416-469-0086.

Opera 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 CBC library.

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.

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