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Both Sides Now
Paulo Szot

by Olivia Giovetti



Szot as Escamillo in San Francisco
Opera’s production of Carmen, 2011.
Photo by Cory Weaver
For some singers, the secret to a long and fruitful career is a one-track mind. It’s no surprise that more than a few stars—including Mary Costa and Joan Sutherland—have famously used the metaphor of being a horse with blinders on as a way of describing their forward drive and singular goals.

But the last half century has brought with it a staggering number of changes, particularly in how we receive and consume culture. The idea of being a singer who embraces duality between genres is perhaps not revolutionary—while Sutherland was taking the world by storm as Lucia and Norma, mezzo Risë Stevens was holding court both at the Met and on the Ed Sullivan Show—but the ability to embrace such a dichotomy has become much easier and fluid in the new millennium.

Exhibit A in that equation is baritone Paulo Szot, a singer who had gained momentum in the opera world starting with his professional debut in 1997 as Rossini’s Figaro in his native Brazil. It took a Tony-Award-winning Broadway de...
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