Aussie Tenor Skelton: Skip romance, hand me a sword

Thu May 3, 2012 7:53am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Some opera tenors have all the plush roles and get to kiss the divas, but when Australian tenor Stuart Skelton takes the stage, he's often cast as the lout who abuses women and children, or as a Teutonic hero with more brawn than brains.

"I keep getting typecast as all these broken characters, because I don't really do romantic leads very well," Skelton, 43, said in an interview as he prepared for an English National Opera (ENO) production of Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman".

He sings the role of the huntsman Erik, whose girl jumps off a cliff to show her devotion not to him, but to the accursed ship's captain of the opera's title.

"I'm the 'before shot' in the romantic lead pictures - here's the romantic lead before he went to Jenny Craig (weight loss centers) for three months," Skelton, who is no Pavarotti but could easily pass for a rugby player, said with a laugh.

"You know, you've got to be a credible hero at some level, so that's why they usually hand me a sword and say, 'Go kill some stuff'."

A lot of the slaying he's done over the years, since he made his debut in a leading role in the late 1990s, has been of critics, who don't seem to be able to get enough of him.

The reviews were sensational when Skelton sang the lead of the child-exploiting fisherman in the ENO production of Britten's "Peter Grimes" in 2009, and which he will reprise in a concert version for this year's BBC Proms, and there were raves again when he began the current run of "The Flying Dutchman".

"Skelton's Erik, beautifully voiced and phrased, has rarely been bettered," critic Tim Ashley wrote in The Guardian.   Continued...