Last week, we asked our Twitter followers to fill up our TweetyJar with questions for Peter Grimes star Stuart Skelton. We caught up with Stuart during rehearsals and presented him with our full TweetyJar of questions.
A regular performer on the international stage, Stuart is one of the finest tenors of his generation. Having first performed with ENO in 2006 as Laca in Jenufa, he won critical acclaim in the title role of David Alden's 2009 production of Britten's Peter Grimes. 'Skelton's towering performance… perfectly combining human frailties with an edge of brutality' (The Guardian). Last seen at ENO as Florestan in Beethoven's Fidelio last year, Stuart returns to the role of Peter Grimes this January. You can also see the production live in cinemas on 23 February.
Hi Stuart – can you recommend a cocktail for a depressed English cricket fan for Australia Day? Ps. Hope you're well good sir.
Something slightly bitter, overrated and easily spillable??
What's the ideal extract from Peter Grimes to sing in an audition for the part?
Can't go past the hut scene aria. ‘In dreams I've built myself... that you can build with and call a home.’ It's got it all. Line, declamation, pianissimo through to the most powerful of fortissimo.
Is there a role you'd love to sing more often a) because it's fun b) to explore it more c) other?
Yes, Lohengrin. It's always been fun to sing and it's a role that has always been very kind to me and my career and is very close to my heart.
Do you feel increased pressure to find fresh nuances when singing an iconic role like Grimes?
Always, but the pressure is always self-inflicted. I hope I never stop looking for a more nuanced performance, musically and histrionically.
Dear @StuartSkelton as an ex-chorister – what piece of liturgical music do you miss singing?
Collegium Regale, Herbet Howells. Perfection.
What's the one major Symphonic work & Opera that you'd like to conduct in all your spare time from singing?
Mahler 2nd. Could die happy then.
How does Wagner's slow rate of action affect your approach to acting in his operas compared to other rep?
It's an interesting contrast. Although there's quite a lot of ‘stasis’ in Wagnerian roles, I've always found that the dramatic build up, which is always so perfectly timed with the musical build up, the stasis affords the opportunity to let the emotion of singing Wagner also build up slowly and not get too overwhelming too quickly.
Which role has been the biggest challenge of your career so far and why?
I think the biggest challenge so far has been Hermann in Pique Dame, although I do try and challenge myself every time to find the feather edge of what I can achieve vocally with each role.
Hermann is a challenge because he starts out already quite disturbed, so the opportunity for the character to develop is rather taken away and you've got to be careful to not let the disturbed nature of the character impinge on the voice too early in the evening. Pacing is everything.
If Laca was your 1st ENO role, was the Prince in Rusalka for Opera North your UK debut?
Actually, no it wasn't. Opera North was my debut, but in 2002 with staged performances at the quite magnificent Leeds Town Hall. Rusalka came the season after, in 2003.