Szot, who earned a Best Actor Tony for his portrayal of South Pacific's romantic leading man, will take leave from the Tony-winning revival to appear in The Merry Widow for Opera Marseille this winter and Carmen for Opera Toulouse in the spring.
In Szot's absence, David Pittsinger has been announced to assume the role of French plantation owner Emile de Becque from Dec. 2-Jan 25, 2009, and again from March 12-April 12, 2009.
Pittsinger made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Truelove in The Rake's Progress. He went on to appear in the MET productions of Don Carlo, La Boheme, Die Zauberflote and Giulio Cesare. Later this season he will also appear in the New York City Opera's concert performance of Antony and Cleopatra at Carnegie Hall.
The new Lincoln Center Theater production of South Pacific, helmed by Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher, began previews March 1 and officially opened April 3 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.
Opening to a flurry of critical praises from major publications, Lincoln Center Theater announced April 4 that the musical would play an open-ended run at the Beaumont. South Pacific had originally been scheduled through June 22, 2008. Kelli O'Hara, last seen on the Beaumont stage in The Light in the Piazza, stars as nurse Nellie Forbush alongside Paulo Szot as de Becque. O'Hara's former Light in the Piazza onstage love interest, Matthew Morrison, returns to Lincoln Center Theater in the role of Lt. Cable.
South Pacific boasts a 30-piece orchestra conducted by Tony Award winner Ted Sperling and an expansive set by Tony Award-winning designer Michael Yeargan that is replete with palm trees, endless beaches and a 1940s bomber plane.
Based on James Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories "Tales of the South Pacific," the musical focuses on de Becque and his love interest, Nellie Forbush, a naïve young nurse from Arkansas. Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, South Pacific offers a lushly romantic score while challenging audiences with themes of racial intolerance and bigotry.
Tickets for the Lincoln Center Theater revival of South Pacific are available at the Vivian Beaumont box office (150 West 65th Street), at Telecharge.com or by visiting www.lct.org.