World-renowned opera singer comes to Mercyhurst

International sensation and Grammy Award winner Mark S. Doss took the stage of Walker Recital Hall on Saturday, Feb. 4. Energy filled the room as anticipation for Doss grew with every passing minute.

Suddenly, the lights dimmed and conversation fell silent as Doss took the stage.
The arts community in Erie and the students of the D’Angelo Department of Music had been waiting for this moment for weeks.

Doss has performed more than 55 roles in more than 60 major opera houses internationally.

Having already performed at the Metropolitan Opera House before the age of 30, Doss has since performed at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the Vienna State Opera and the San Fransisco Opera.

Doss has sung the national anthem at a Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox game and was awarded Planet Africa’s Entertainment award only a month later.

What Doss gave on the stage was everything but a recital.

When one mentions a recital, thoughts of obviously well-rehearsed repertoire and a vocalist standing perfectly still clutching the grand piano fill my mind.

Doss’s performance would be the definition of “antonym” if the two were looked up in a dictionary.

Not only was there a stage presence that would impress the most seasoned singer, but Doss brought forth a recital of five languages and had the ability to give the illusion that each was naturally his own.

When asked about Doss’ performance, junior Adam Ferrari said, “He exemplifies what it means to be an opera singer. The way he holds himself, his musicality, and his voice … he’s just a powerhouse.”

“I hope he can certainly make it back here again so we can work with him further,” he said.

The concert started with a wonderful composition by Jocopo Peri titled “Invocazione di Orfeo,” and continued with three German selections by Franz Schubert.

Following were an amazing selection of French pieces composed by Maurice Ravel.

The last of the three movements of this work was by far the most amusing of the night, titled “Chansons a boire,” it roughly translates into “a drinking song.”

Doss was able to convey the meaning of this song; it almost appeared as if the music suddenly made him drunk as he began “stumbling” around the stage.

Before intermission, he performed a few well-known songs in English: “Thousands of miles” from Lost in the Stars by Anderson/Weil and “Ol’ man River” from Show Boat.

Junior Matt Tolbert said, “Mark S. Doss was exactly what some of us needed to see. He showed everybody how to make wonderful music and how to transport the audience to exactly where you want them.

“It was the best live performance I have ever seen, without a doubt,” he said.

“Many who were in attendance were music students at Mercyhurst University and to look around and watch them take it all in … it was as if they’d all been mesmerized and were unable to unfix their gazes from the stage.

“It was so wonderful to have a truly inspirational man come and perform for the community as well as the D’Angelo music students.”

Sophomore Kathleen Reveille was wowed by the performance she had just seen. “Doss verified all my hopes and dreams of becoming a performer,” she said.

Following intermission, Doss opened with a number of Russian pieces, dropping the jaws of all with his seamless transition from one language to another.

He closed his performance with a number of Spirituals that couldn’t have been more perfectly executed.

Freshman Alexa Zeremenko said, “Mark S. Doss is perfection. The way he conveys the message of what he sings, not only with his wonderful voice, but with his actions is quite phenomenal.”

Doss could change both the intonation and inflection in his voice at any given moment, which is a necessity for any successful opera singer.

After the performance, Doss stayed to autograph programs and chat with Mercyhurst’s music majors and the rest of the community.

His personality was as charming as his voice, and it was quite apparent that he was having just as good of a time as the students were.

Post-Baccalaureate Lynn Dula said after the recital, “Doss displayed a huge and powerful but still controlled and technically perfect vocal presence throughout his entire performance. He also had a gift for emotionally connecting with his audience. It was truly inspiring,” she said.

His recital concluded with multiple ovations, which involved Doss coming onstage again and again to please the crowd with tasteful selections of his repertoire. All who were present made it obvious they wished the concert didn’t have to end.