When a performance makes you love mozart even more

With a full orchestra behind you, how do you make sure that the flawlessness of their performance does not overshadow that of yours especially if you’re a world renown baritone?If you’d been to Mozart Masterpieces concert at the Royal Opera House Muscat this weekend, you would have seen Paulo Szot do his magic, commanding a presence that would make him an instant favourite.
For sure he has an array of impressive experience behind him being a Tony Award winner for ‘Best Actor in a Musical’ in 2008 for his portrayal of Emile de Beque in a Broadway revival of South Pacific as one of them, but all great actors and performers know that they are only as good as their last performance and during the evening of March 29, Szot did not only rely in his past laurels and achievements but instead built upon his credentials, played his cards well and successfully forced his way into the heart of his Muscat audience.
This is the same guy whose 2016/17 engagements included Don Alfonso in a new production of Cosi fan Tutte at the Opera National de Paris and a solo recital at Teatro Royal de Madrid as a salute to Frank Sinatra’s recordings of Antonio Jobim’s bossa nova and these engagements already reveal the calibre of his talent.
Having created the roles of Alexander Hamilton, Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney in the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s The New Prince and the several other solo performances he has done in the past are perhaps where he learned that in any performance, connecting with your audience is the first step into selling your character.
What would have been a boring night for the uninitiated on Mozart’s masterpieces became something more relatable to even first-timers to serious classical music. His little comedic acts after every performance was a breath of fresh air to Mozarts serious concerto pieces.
While his rendition of Fin ch’han dal Vino from Don Giovanni’s aria, Act 1 was superb, it was in Deh, vieni, all Finestra in Act 2 of the same opera that he was exceptionally memorable. He was a force of nature holding every dear note with the intricacies they deserve and it is for this particular performance that I’ve realised I was becoming a fan.
He went on to perform two more pieces — and if in every appearance, you bring a smile to the audience and make them giggle in appreciation, you must be doing something right and something right is what he did all night.
Of course, all of it wouldn’t be possible without the expertise and sensible command of Conductor Paul Meyer. Equally impressive in credentials, Meyer without a doubt was a revelation that evening. His commanding presence tied the performance altogether. He was there valiantly leading a team all the while giving the performers — Szot and Clarinet player Ammar Al Owaisi their due time in the spotlight.
His magic was very apparent especially during Al Owaisi’s performance who relied on his cue so he can flawlessly join the orchestra. It was a team effort at its finest.
For popular pieces like that of Mozart though, the little imperfections can easily be heard and noticed. A squeaking and out of tune note on a clarinet can destroy a performance and this one mistake puts a little bit of worry on the rest of the performance.
Al Owaisi, however, is his own man who came to prove that he got the experience and the presence to command an audience. His performance for the Adagio was more refined and he effortlessly navigated to his final piece cementing his status as a fine clarinet player to watch out for.
As for the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, there is nothing more that can be added to what was already said about them. They were fascinating to see with all their calculated moves synchronised to perfection. Even the changing of the pages on their musical sheets was in itself a performance and I have nothing but pure appreciation to these men and women who’ve for sure, dedicated a great deal of time to get to the level they were in.
Overall, Szot is an instant favourite who will surely nail more performances in the future and will achieve far greater success in his career. Al Owaisi has all the potential to become one of the greats, and Paul Meyer — Paul Meyer is definitely a treasure and is welcome to perform and regale us with his magic anytime.