Check out my interview with PAULO SZOT in GAY CITY NEWS here
And here’s more of what he told me which didn’t make it into print:
NOHWAY: Tell me about your background.
PAULO SZOT: My background is Polish-Brazilian. I was born in Poland and they emigrated during WWII to Brazil, so my blood is totally Polish but my heart is Brazilian, too. Portuguese is my first language. I lived in Poland for many years after I turned 18, so I consider myself both. I love both countries.
NOHWAY: With your coloring, etc., it must have been easy to pass as a Brazilian.
SZOT: Brazil is a country oif many races, so it’s totally mixed, like here, too. It’s a new country, filled with immigrants so we have all kinds of skin tones and eyes and hair.
NOHWAY: I spent New Year’s Eve in Krakow a few years ago and loved it – such a beautiful old town, preserved like Prague but less discovered and touristy. And the people were so friendly and warm, unlike those in, say, Budapest.
SZOT: Wow! That’s where I lived – Krakow, for for two years. It’s beautiful, with this great atmosphere that’s so old and you can smell everything. I really love it. The people are very warm. You’d never imagine it, but they are very similar to Brazilians. They like to party, drink and enjoy life, although it was different at the time during Communism. But people were so warm I was encouraged to stay there and that’s where I got my musical training. With all the difficulties with Communism, the arts were very well maintained and there was that level of great musicianship.
NOHWAY: Are there any roles you itch to play?
SZOT: You know, I’ve been lucky to play so many good roles, I don’t dream of anything, really. Whatever comes I will analyze and take a look at. I was so surprised with THE NOSE, which couldn’t have been better if I had made my Metropolitan Opera debut with Don Giovanni or Escamillo [from CARMEN]. Those would have been just one more singer in these roles, but this way it was a surprise, as it was the first time the Met had ever staged it. I’m really open and don’t dream about great roles, as I have been lucky to have them already.
William Kentridge [the director of THE NOSE] was interesting. He’s so talented in what he does as a plastic artist and his conception was amazing. Everything he told us about the language of the show itself was very unique. He made us all believe in it and just do it. He was very different and original and extremely professional.
NOHWAY: As a visual artists, was he able to communicate what he wanted from you performance-wise?
SZOT: He was great – he wanted me to fit into his whole art so it was very interesting.
NOHWAY: And of course you worked with Bartlett Sher on SOUTH PACIFIC. What was he like?
SZOT: Bart is amazing – someone you want to work with all the time. He takes care of you all the time, a wonderful person. He was my first Broadway director in a moment in my life when I was very afraid of crossing over, with no idea of what to do on stage. Even now, whenever he comes to see the show for brush-ups, he’s always great.
NOHWAY: Ezio Pinza originated your SOUTH PACIFIC role, and his career paralleled yours in the way you both crossed over from opera to musical theater. What’s your opnion of Pinza?
SZOT: I loved Pinza. He was one of my examples of good singing and great voice. He created this role and was my inspiration all the time, and still is.
NOHWAY: And how do you see this character of Emil de Becque [in SOUTH PACIFIC]?
SZOT: He’s a great man who, at the beginning of his life, had to leave everything. He was defending people, and got into a fight to protect himself in which he killed a man. So he had to escape from being in jail and then finds himself on an island and creates his own paradise. In [James Michener’s] book he has many more children. His wife dies and he looks forward to being in love again and meets Nellie Forbush.