This review is an Ionarts exclusive.
Paulo Szot in Don Giovanni, Dallas Opera
The reason, however, to take in this performance was to hear the secondary casting of Paulo Szot in the title role. The Polish-Brazilian baritone debuted the Don at Dallas Opera in 2010, but the role was not a good match for him, as Mike Silverman noted in a spot-on review for the Associated Press ("baritone Paulo Szot in the title role is vocally underpowered and only intermittently effective"). Here in Washington, too, Szot was both vocally and physically uncomfortable, covered much of the night by other singers and the orchestra and, for all his vaunted good looks, mostly awkward in the dancing and other situations. Szot has had surprisingly good luck in being featured at the Met, although ultimately he had a vocally weak debut in Shostakovich's The Nose, followed by a withdrawn Escamillo on the opening night of Carmen last year. Perhaps not surprisingly, he first gained considerable notoriety when he was cast as Emile de Becque in a rare Broadway revival of South Pacific, and he may be more comfortable with microphone in hand as a nightclub singer, for which he has received not one but two embarrassingly slobbery profiles in the New York Times. The worst part of the cinematization of opera is that favorable closeups are trumping vocal considerations in casting, a trend that will hopefully not bring us a production starring Szot sometime in the future.