Mark DuBois - World Renowned Lyric Tenor
MSO's 'New Divas' & DuBois

By Terry Gaisin
Ontario Arts Review

Awarding a gold watch after twenty-five years of service is a tradition of industry. When it occurs within the emotional complexities of an orchestra; it becomes exceptional. The MISSISSAUGA SYMHONY ORCHESTRA bestowed two such items during last night’s final concert of the 08/09 season. Hearing maestro John Barnum’s immaculate arrangement of Verdi’s Forza del Destino overture, as well as his throat-catching prelude to the Wagner ‘Tristan Und Isolde’; one can glean the obvious benefit of having participating musicians develop the interpersonal telepathy that only comes with time! Both works were aced, as was the opening Beethoven ‘Fidelio’ with its strong support from the brass section.

The programme was titled “Tomorrow’s Divas-Today” and was the culmination of a concept by the conductor and celebrated tenor Mark DuBois who held auditions in February to select two applicants to perform with the MSO. We attended those auditions and concur with the difficulty in narrowing the choices. The four guest soloists- Margie Bernal; Victoria Gydov; Beth Horst; and Iasmina Pataca are all vocally talented, but it is their professionalism, demeanor and stage presence that reveal their potential for operatic success. Gone were any traces of the tenseness, or sign of uptight deportment that we noticed at the audition.

Pataca,Horst,Barnum,DuBois,Bernal & Gydov backstage

Miss Bernal evoked all of Musetta’s arrogance in her Bohème selection, and then changed approach as she portrayed Lucia in her Donizetti aria. The mood changes that are contained in the ‘Regnava nel silenzio’ are a challenge and she was outstanding. Bernal is a dramatic performer with stage presence and a rich timbre to her voice.

Rossini’s Barbiere solo ‘Una voce poco fa’ suits a mezzo’s range and Iasmina Pataca has the vocal twinkle that certainly suits comic opera. Her interpretation was lively and characterized the role even without the context of being actually within an operatic setting. The duet sung with DuBois from the opening scene of Rossini’s Cinderella (original – not the Disney story; with wicked stepfather, fairy God-servant; earring instead of slipper, & Vespa™ instead of a pumpkin!) was impressive given that any performer must be in a certain awe of singing with the likes of such a lyric tenor.

Victoria Gydov’s coloratura handled La Traviata’s philosophical ‘Sempre Libera’ by emphasizing all the angst that the infamous young ‘ho’ Violetta used to evaluate her lifestyle. Verdi’s musical retelling of the so-called ‘Lady of the Camillias’, who even counted Alexandre Dumas among her clients, is a role fraught with hurdles; Gydov sang and acted with both facial & body language to underscore the part.

Mozart’s Zauberflöte has a delightful duet wherein the servants of the principals discover each other; -fall in love and then debate on size & sex of their future offspring. Bethany Horst and DuBois made it a humorous but seriously talented musical dispute that highlighted the soprano’s lighter side; in contrast to the control and reserve displayed in her earlier solos. Her closing duet with Gydov was the familiar Lakme ‘flower song’. This effort; along with Pataca’s sexy Habanera and her ‘Barcarolle’ with Bernal were standouts and made the evening memorable. The finale ‘Libiamo’ (Brindisi) with Mark DuBois’ Alfredo and a quartet of Violettas was just the icing & cherry-topping. We’re not betting folk, but this super evening is certainly a short-list for our annual Top Ten!

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