Reviews

2014

Otello/Otello - English National Opera

“He vocalised the role superbly: not a crack or a fumble, the tone trumpet-bright and penetrating. Not since Domingo in his prime can this music have been sung with more complete assurance.”

Rupert Christiansen
The Telegraph

“Skelton’s Moor commands everyone around with a graceful and transparent honesty, stilling a murderous brawl with his presence alone … [his] singing never once loses its heroic burnish, and in his high register he floats the sound seemingly without effort.

 

Michael Church
The Independent

“What an Otello we have in Skelton! From his opening cry of “Esultate!” (We have triumphed!), the Australian heldentenor owned the stage. The glint in his eye and the steel in his voice made for a visceral portrayal of a caged tiger. There was anguish in “Ora e per sempre addio” (Now and forever, farewell) and a thrilling ring to the oath, where a blood-letting ritual between Otello and Iago sealed their bond. Skelton can caress a vocal line too; the love duet was tender, without resorting to crooning.”

Mark Pullinger
Bachtrack

“Skelton’s Heldentenor background ensures that he has no problem whatsoever riding Verdi’s thickest orchestration but, crucially for this role, he is also able to fine the voice away to the merest whisper without losing either pitch or projection. In this he more than once reminded me of Pavarotti’s underrated recording of the role.”

Sebastian Petit
Opera Britannia

Peter Grimes/Peter Grimes - San Francisco Symphony

“Skelton deployed a pure, clear tenor, seamless in its ability to float high notes and still get power into the middle and lower range. His musical portrayal of Grimes relied less on the feral muscle of Jon Vickers’ approach, hewing closer to the original voice Britten had in mind, Peter Pears, but with a more beautiful sound. In the opening measures of “Great Bear and Pleiades,” his monologue in the pub, his gossamer pianissimo above the staff still had a creamy richness, and the voice grew to immense power as the music built.  His final scene, in rumpled jersey with the right sleeve pulled up and the other hanging over his left hand, wrenched the emotions with exquisite tone and quiet intensity.”

Harvey Steiman
Seen and Heard International

“Skelton’s voice … becomes an instrument of singular dramatic power here, rising to the most delicate heights and descending to a shudder-inducing growl to convey the sea of rage, ambition, misanthropy and, of course, fear that swirls within him.”

David Wiegand
San Francisco Chronicle

“Stuart Skelton’s magnetic performance captured Grimes’s blunt, looming physicality and wounded fragility in equal measure. Skelton’s tenor is astonishingly virile — stunning in its power at forte, softly sensitive in “Now the Great Bear and Pleiades” and honeyed in the lyrical passages describing his dream of love for Ellen Orford. His early scenes projected a blunt, defiant misanthrope given to quicksilver flashes of rage, and his final scene — a wrenching descent into madness — was shattering.”

Georgia Rowe
Opera News

“…amid all of this firepower, tenor Stuart Skelton somehow managed to create a shambling, grimy, unforgettable title character who still commanded the stage.”

Richard S. Ginell
Classical Voice America

Peter Grimes/Peter Grimes - English National Opera

“Stuart Skelton, the Australian tenor, reprises the title role, though nothing about his forlorn, tousle-haired, lumbering interpretation is ever anything but fresh, visceral and masterly … [He] sings his pianissimo passages, notably the yearning “What harbour shelters peace”, with beauty and raw vulnerability.”

Fiona Maddocks
The Observer

“Britten wrote the title role, of course, for Peter Pears, though it’s hard (in my mind, at least) to see how Pears could have matched the full range, colour and lyrical turbulence of Aussie heldentenor Stuart Skelton. Since Pears, the other two great Grimes have been Jon Vickers and Philip Langridge, and Canning reckons Skelton is easily worthy of naming in the same company.

Britten himself didn’t much like Vickers in the role, probably because he was a bit too rough and hairy, rather as Skelton is. But Skelton’s soft singing, and his delicately signalled acting, is beyond praise. He manages to be both monster and booby, a damned soul, but a deeply touching lost one, too.”

Michael Coveney
What's On Stage

“The range of what Skelton does vocally across some of the trickiest transitional writing between head and chest voices is both remarkable and beautiful. His little arioso in the hut scene where he imagines “kindlier times” was truly bel canto for the Heldentenor. Every time Ellen was recalled, the softening of his whole demeanour made the pent-up anger unthinkable. Heartbreaking.”

Edward Seckerson
The Review

“Stuart Skelton’s portrayal of the anti-hero was again, without qualification, the best I have seen and heard. Skelton suggested that it is no luxury, but even a necessity, to have a Heldentenor in the role. There is no doubting the strength of his voice – his excellent Seattle Siegmund last summer offering further testimony to that – but just as impressive were the moments of hushed arioso (‘Now the Great Bear and Pleiades’) and all manner of colours and shades in between. “

Mark Berry
Seen and Heard International

“Australian tenor Stuart Skelton‘s Grimes is nothing short of stunning. I don’t mean ‘very, very good’ – I mean stunning, both vocally and dramatically. His portrayal of Peter as an angry, bewildered figure rather than a thuggish brute is, by turns, terrifying and heart-breaking. He chooses to give Grimes a physical, awkward naivety, casting him almost as an overgrown child himself, turning the screws even tighter in an opera where cruelty towards children is at the heart of the drama.”

Matt Hutchinson
The Arbuturian

“Skelton, singing with astonishing visceral intensity, is surely now the Grimes de nos jours. Not to be missed on stage.”


The Sunday Times

“Stuart Skelton has surely never been bettered as the hulking Grimes. He totally inhabits the role. His is a performance to treasure, as is the conducting of Edward Gardner, and the magnificent playing of his orchestra.”

David Mellor
The Mail on Sunday

2013

Siegmund/Die Walküre - Opera Australia

“There were some first-rate performances, most notably Stuart Skelton’s Siegmund, one of the best I’ve ever heard. Since I last saw him in this role, nine years ago at the Adelaide Ring, Skelton’s voice has strengthened, with a gleaming, Heldentenor top capable of slicing through even the densest orchestration. His cries of ”Wälse! Wälse!” were genuinely heartfelt and heroic.”

Michael Shmith
The Age

“Skelton’s monumental performance combined glorious warmth and colour with elemental expressive energy that taps something deeply human and intuitive.”

Peter McCallum
Sydney Morning Herald

“…Stuart Skelton’s Siegmund, who blazed with intensity and purpose, yet also offered lyricism and beauty of tone. Skelton’s unflagging vocal heroism was equalled only by his poetic attention to the text.”

Michael Shmith
Opera

Peter Grimes/Peter Grimes - London Philharmonic Orchestra

“I think we can now say with absolute certainty that Stuart Skelton is the pre-eminent Peter Grimes of the present time.”

Edward Seckerson
Asides

“…above all, Stuart Skelton’s performance in the title role seems to me to be the best around today. Skelton was superb when he sang Grimes in David Alden’s exceptional ENO production four years ago, but now … there’s an extra dimension, and the vocal heft is complimented by a touching delicacy when needed; his angry despair in his second-act confrontation with Ellen was heartbreaking. Every facet now is exceptional.”

Andrew Clements
The Guardian

“Stuart Skelton‘s Peter Grimes, familiar from ENO and a concert performance at the BBC Proms, is surely becoming the definitive interpreter of his generation. He sings the role beautifully – quiet and introspective when needed (‘The Great Bear and Pleiades’) and with a clarion voice for the character’s more forceful moments. He benefits from a strong and credible physical presence too. From the interpretive perspective it is hard to recall a Grimes so obviously traumatised by the experience of losing his first apprentice and so ill-equipped to deal with the emotional fallout. His depiction of Grimes’s desperate need for emotional support and his frustrated inability to allow those who do care to provide it is vocally and physically expressed. Every utterance was clear and weighted as part of a complex and devastating portrayal.”

Alexander Campbell
Classical Source

“I stick by my opinion that it’s the orchestral music that really makes the opera great, but Stuart Skelton’s Peter Grimes was so utterly compelling tonight that it would have carried the performance on its own. This was an astonishing characterisation, both physically (right down to his slow, waddling walk) and musically – the variation of tone in his voice is incredible, veering from gruff and rugged, via one hell of a yell, all the way through to plaintive and gentle. And yet somehow it’s all totally believable as one character – this Grimes is every inch the complex, nuanced figure that Britten must have sensed in George Crabbe’s poem. It’s a masterpiece.”

Paul Kilbey
Bachtrack

“Stuart Skelton, if possible, was even better in the title role than when he sang it for ENO and at the Proms last year. He now inhabits the role completely, negotiating all the tricky corners with consummate ease and sings as though his life depends on it. His portrayal is both heart-breaking and definitive.”

Keith McDonnell
What's On Stage

“At the centre of everything was a magnificent performance by Stuart Skelton in the title role. Hauntingly believable as the burly fisherman pushed to the end of his tether, Skelton used his beefy, ringing tenor judiciously, also managing a hushed opening to his “Now the great Bear and Pleiades” and investing every word with meaning.”

John Allison
The Telegraph

Florestan/Fidelio - English National Opera

“…the heroic Skelton was born to sing Florestan.”

Helen Wallace
Classical-Music.com

“Even better… was Stuart Skelton’s monumental Florestan. His first cry of “Gott” starting with the sweetest pianissimo and swelling to a shattering fortissimo is about as good as it gets.”

Sebastian Petit
Opera Britannia

“And what a match of vocal heroics ENO achieved here with Stuart Skelton’s Florestan. He made the aria feel and sound so eminently singable, with the hallucinatory vision of Leonore beautifully shaded.”

Edward Seckerson
The Review

Siegmund/Die Walküre - Seattle Opera

“Stuart Skelton’s Siegmund and Margaret Jane Wray’s Sieglinde were both opulent of voice, passionately convincing as actors, and persuasive in their ardor … the excellent Skelton may well have set a new Seattle distance record for the sheer length of his “Wälse!””

Melinda Bargreen
Seattle Times

“We are very fortunate that such a consummate actor also sings divinely, with pure notes and unmatchable intensity. His cries of “Wälse” were as desperate as they were long – and they were the longest I have ever heard.”

Ilana Walder-Biesanz
Bachtrack

Parsifal/Parsifal - Zürich Opera

“…il tenore australiano Stuart Skelton, dotato di un bel timbro virile da “heldentenor”, capace di piegare la voce a bellissimi chiaroscuri e con una zona acuta squillante, unita a una presenza scenica magnifica. Il lavoro con il regista ha creato momenti di grande impatto emotivo, memorabile la smorfia di dolore alla notizia della morte della madre. Bellissimo anche il monologo “Amfortas! Die Wunde!” dove il tenore riesce a comunicare lo strazio della carne per la riapertura della piaga di Amfortas con un dolore espresso dalla voce, di toccante commozione.”

[…the Australian tenor Stuart Skelton, gifted with a beautifully masculine “heldentenor” tone, capable of shaping exquisite light and shade into the voice and with a vivid upper register, combined with magnificent stage presence. His work with the director has created moments of great emotional impact, memorably the grimace of sorrow at the news of his mother’s death. Also outstanding is the “Amfortas! Die Wunde!” monologue, where the tenor succeeds in conveying the fleshly torment of the re-opening of Amfortas’s wound with an anguish expressed in singing of touching emotion.]

Massimiliano Maurizi
GB Opera

Siegmund/Die Walküre - Paris Opera

“Quant au ténor australien Stuart Skelton, c’est un spectacle à lui tout seul. Il partage avec [Martina Serafin] une diction parfaite et une intensité vocale modulée par une profonde intelligence musicale : physique solide d’homme des bois mais cœur tendre comme une rose, le chanteur parvient à des sommets dans l’art de conjuguer art vocal et art dramatique.”

[As for the Australian tenor Stuart Skelton, he is a show unto himself. He shares with [Martina Serafin] perfect diction and vocal intensity modulated by profound musical intelligence: physically a solid huntsman but with a heart tender like a rose, the singer reaches the summit of the art of uniting vocal and dramatic art.]

Hélène Kuttner
Première

2012

Gherman/The Queen of Spades - Sydney Symphony

“Australian tenor Stuart Skelton was magnificent in the lead role. Sustaining immense strength and power, Skelton impressed with clarity and complexity of colour. He shrewdly realised his character’s duality as lover and lunatic, restraining the manic intensity required for the latter just long enough to convince as the former.”

Murray Black
The Australian

Peter Grimes/Peter Grimes - BBC Proms

“No one currently sings the part better, more beautifully, more powerfully.”

Edward Seckerson

“…the night belonged to Stuart Skelton’s Peter Grimes, whose eloquence and elegance of voice was breath-taking and whose characterisation couldn’t have been bettered. The paralysing confusion that grips Grimes as misfortunes and mistakes push the village into a witch hunt against him was played without cliche or extremity and touched us all.”

Igor Toronyi-Lalic
The Arts Desk

“He is indeed an exceptional singer, with two remarkable weapons in his armoury: a true Heldentenor voice, and an ability to act intelligently and sensitively … I can only echo the comments of other reviewers in saying that he is surely the greatest Grimes alive. Rarely has a singer demonstrated such a talent for eliciting sympathy and empathy from the audience, and his range of emotions – expressed both musically and visually – was vast.”

Dominic Wells
Opera Britannia

“Skelton is arguably the most complete Peter Grimes of them all, with a range of colours and a depth of acting that few of his predecessors have matched.”

Mark Valencia
Classical Source

2011

Das Lied Von Der Erde - Berlin Philharmonic

“Die eigentliche Entdeckung des Abends war aber der Tenor Stuart Skelton, dessen kraftvoll ekstatische Stimme noch aus dem stürmischsten Tosen der Mahler-Partitur hervorleuchtete.”

[But the genuine discovery of the evening was the tenor Stuart Skelton, whose powerful, ecstatic voice shone out even in the stormiest ragings of Mahler’s score.]

Martin Wilkening
Berliner Zeitung

Parsifal/Parsifal - Zurich Opera

“…ein Strahletenor mit traditioneller Wagner-Postur, der keine Mühe hat, gegen Gattis Orchester anzukommen, der aber auch die leisen Töne beherrscht und wie die übrigen Protagonisten auf eine sehr deutliche Sprache setzt (für einmal wären die deutschen Übertitel tatsächlich fast überflüssig gewesen).”

[…a shining tenor in the traditional Wagnerian mold, who has no trouble matching Gatti’s orchestra, but who is also a master of soft singing and like the other protagonists has very clear diction (for once the German surtitles were almost superfluous).]

Susanne Kübler
Tages Anzeiger

“… Stuart Skelton on jaw-droppingly good form as Parsifal…”

Shirley Apthorp
Financial Times

Drum Major/Wozzeck - Metropolitan Opera

“In a smashing debut, towering heldentenor Stuart Skelton tossed off high notes like grenades as the thuggish Drum Major.”

James Jorden
New York Post

Parsifal/Parsifal - English National Opera

“Vocal honours for the evening must go to Stuart Skelton’s powerful Parsifal. The voice is big, and there’s a visceral thrill in hearing it get cranked up to full power. However, this was also an intelligent performance, charting the character’s trajectory from impetuous inquisitiveness in Act One, via moving anguish in Act Two, to true nobility in Act Three.”

Hugo Shirley
Musical Criticism

“The heroic Australian tenor Stuart Skelton was compelling in the title role. As Parsifal, the clueless young man who chances upon the knights and comes to understand that he is the innocent fool prophesied as their savior, Mr. Skelton sang with ample sound, burnished colorings and comprehensible diction.”

Anthony Tommasini
New York Times

“In the title role Stuart Skelton was quite simply a revelation. He is a true Heldentenor – his cries of ‘Amfortas’ in the second act pinned you to the back of your seat – yet he never forces, is capable of much soft singing, phrases sensitively and is a consummate actor … Suffice it to say his is the most complete portrayal of the role I have ever seen.”

Keith McDonnell
What’s On Stage