Virtual is the new norm for “live” performance, but for me it’s also another word for “practical facsimile”. Artists being relegated to perform while handicapped by the limitations of the internet, lack of an audience, and COVID regulations (which limit the amount of musicians on a stage) are significant hurdles to overcome. If there is any performer, who by the sheer magnitude of his voice and physical presence can produce an exciting show in this new situation it was last night’s Radio Free Birdland presentation of Opera/Broadway/Cabaret super star Paulo Szot accompanied by pianist/arranger Billy Stritch.
Paulo, who is used to hearing the cheers of passionate fans in the world’s great Opera Houses, concert venues, and packed Cabaret rooms was unable to see and hear the standing ovations he was receiving by an audience viewing on computers and smart TV’s, but I’m sure he brought down the house(s) all over the world wide web. Just as the voice of Caruso is even able to electrify on early recordings, the voice of Paulo Szot is equal to the task of leaping over the audio and visual constraints inherent in our temporary new norm. It was a thrilling show, and for a brief moment I was transported back to the Birdland Theater, imagining Gianni and Jim in the back of the room, smiling as they enjoyed a fantastic performance together with a room full of music lovers and friends.
This concert at Birdland is available “On Demand” Get Your Tix Here
Paulo Szot has garnered international acclaim as both an opera singer and an actor. Born in São Paulo to Polish immigrants, Mr. Szot has appeared with most major opera companies throughout the world in Europe, the United States, and his native Brazil. In 2008, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Emile De Beque in the Broadway revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theatre, becoming the first Brazilian actor to receive such honors.