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Opera hunk hits high note at the Tonys

June 15, 2008 |  9:30 pm


Opera star Paolo Szot won the Tony Award for best lead actor in a musical for his Broadway debut in "South Pacific." As he explained to the press, "performing in the musical theater has been an extraordinary experience for me." However, he confessed, "after the first day of rehearsal, I went home and wanted to take the first plane home to Brazil. But I had Bartlett Sher as a director, and he was so helpful."

Unlike the original 1950 production, Szot was the only one of the four nominated performers to win a Tony Award for this first Rialto revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Like the role's originator, Ezio Pinza, Szot comes from the rarefied world of opera. And, as he told the press, he was daunted by the prospect of committing to one role for months on end. "Eight shows a week –- how do you prepare for that? -– this was the main challenge for me; they scared me, the eight shows a week." But after several weeks of previews, Szot says he was so in love with the show that he extended his contract. You will now have till November to see the Tony Award winner.

(L.A. Times photo by Tom O'Neil)