This afternoon we attended a cast party for the upcoming WEST production of ‘HAIR’. Naturally we dressed accordingly [circa 1965] including a flower in my tresses. The residual frame of mind stayed with us as we attended the Mississauga Symphony concert with guest tenor Mark DuBois. The mood was a carry-over…a definitive ‘love-in’.
The orchestral opening was the overture to Barbiere di Siviglia. Somewhat timid and retentively controlled by maestro John Barnum, it finished with a flourish. Then the introduction of tenor DuBois and all formality went by the boards. His vocal harmonic is steadfast across almost all of the tenor range, and his dramatic presentational style is a visual and aural treat. Titled ‘The Music Within’ DuBois’ selections ran the gamut of operetta, Broadway, and iconic standards. Like many of my counterparts, I’m not a fan of Webber but his ‘Music of the Night’ from Phantom has both a memorable melody and lyrics to match. “?Softly, deftly, music shall caress you...Hear it, feel it, secretly possess you...?” was the effect of DuBois’ interpretation on his adoring audience. The heart wrenching ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miz was presented with such sincerity that lumps formed in audience throats. The soloist’s poise, charm and charismatic style was apparent in every diverse selection, especially Bernstein’s ‘Maria’ which was dedicated to the singer’s wife; and an emotional Ave Maria intimately executed un-miked. Two of Lehar’s Merry Widow arias were put into context giving them added consequence. For icing, DuBois brought along 18 members of his Studio Singers. Their interpretations of Offenbach's 'Barcarolle'; the Lerner & Lowe 'Go Home with Bonnie Jean'; and the popular 'You Raise Me Up' were professionally rendered and highly focused. These young ladies - assisted by 6-yr-old Christopher DuBois, returned to close the programme.
Mr. DuBois made a statement about his charges that touched home..."Now they're up here [on stage]; they may end up out there [in the audience]; but if in 20 years they're in neither location - what will happen to places like this [the L.A.C. etc.]? We concur;- support, appreciation & interest by young people is the only way to assure the continued sustaining of the arts.
The M.S.O. gave a proficient and effective arrangement of the overture to Strauss' "Gypsy Baron"; but the Calvin Custer version of Rogers' Carousel Waltz' left me and others disappointed. Sometimes too much "tweaking" spoils the original recipe!
There were two omissions in the evening. No 'Danny Boy' as only DuBois can advocate it; and conspicuously missing- no O.C. pin on the soloist's lapel. The man is a credit to Canada and an iconic asset.. If a nobody like Molly J. can receive it; Mark DuBois' award must be just a pure OVERSIGHT!
The M.S.O. will be holding auditions on Feb. 21st for divas to be part of a future concert. The locale is the small theatre of the L.A.C.; and will begin at 1:00pm.