The people’s tenor

There’s a big fuss going on about Paul Potts, who recently won the reality tv show “Britain’s got Talent”. Potts is a stout cellphone salesman with bad teeth who overwhelmed audiences with his rendition of “Nessun dorma,â€? the tenor aria from Puccini’s “Turandot.â€? (Orlando Opera is staging Turandot next spring!)

NYT culture reporter Dan Watkins writes about the phenomenon, and notes that high-brow critics have been less than kind, calling him “strained,â€? “uncontrolled,â€? “stubby,â€? “lumpy,â€? “constipatedâ€? and “bog-standard.â€? But Simon Cowell sure likes him.

3 thoughts on “The people’s tenor”

  1. Update: I heard an interview with Potts on an NPR music podcast on my drive to work, and it gave me an opportunity to give a critical listen to his Nessum Dorma, without the distraction of the video editing and the judges and crowd reactions. Paul may have some technical flaws, but his singing has a a deep sympathetic quality that cannot be measured or quantified. It can be felt, and he has the ability to take the listener almost instantly into his emotionally resonant space. It happens in the first 20 seconds of the aria, and it happened to me in the middle of University Blvd traffic this morning. As a singer, and as an analytical type of person, I wish I understood how he does it.

    You can hear the NPR interview and performance at


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