Mark DuBois - World Renowned Lyric Tenor
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Easygoing tenor sings perfect note

By Warren Wilson
Special to the Globe and Mail

Mention the Three Tenors and one thinks automatically of Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Mention the three Canadian tenors and one thinks immediately of Ben Heppner, Richard Margison and Michael Schade.

But for Mark DuBois, there's only one tenor: Richard Tauber. That's how it seemed at DuBois' recital at Toronto's Limelight Dinner Theatre on Saturday night. Whether it was Schubert's Leise fliehen meine Lieder, which the ingratiating Tauber sang in the 1932 film Blossom Time, Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles, or Vienna, City of My Dreams (sung with guest artist Suzanne Kompass), DuBois invited plenty of comparisons with the legendary Austrian artist. All that was missing was the monocle.

Throughout the evening, DuBois displayed Tauber's easygoing charm and humour, mixed with copious dollops of schmaltz. He entertained the packed house with self-deprecating jokes, and even tried a dance step or two. About the only thing he didn't do was play his own piano accompaniments. Those were quite adequately supplied by Gloria Saarinen...

...Three folk songs arranged by Benjamin Britten displayed a crystalline clarity of diction, plus loads of personality, especially in The Foggy, Foggy Dew

The famous aubade titled Vainment, ma bien-aimée, from Édouard Lalo's opera Le Roi d'ys, was highlighted by some ravishing head tones, making one wish the tenor had included more French songs in his program. But as he pointed out, a name like DuBois doesn't necessarily mean that he spoke French from birth. Every time he's handed a French role, he has to learn the lyrics phonetically, word by word.

Most pieces were in English or Italian. The ebullient Torna a Sorrento was given the full treatment, complete with glottal sobs. Later, DuBois sang a devastating send-up of the Three Tenors in O sole mio, with hilarious handkerchief flourishes à la Pavarotti.

Stephen Sondheim's Send in the Clowns was introverted and wistful. Andrew Lloyd Webber's Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera showcased high notes spun out into almost Bjoerling-like gossamer threads. Perhaps the best single piece was the passionate Bring Him Home from Les Misérables.

DuBois is affable and good-looking and knows how to play a house and put a song across. Why his career hasn't skyrocketed is one of the great show-biz mysteries. Perhaps being in the Limelight will change all that. After all, the world can always use another tenor.

Mark DuBois returns to the Limelight Dinner Theatre this Friday and Saturday.

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