• Born 1968
Often appears with
Stuart Skelton is a comparatively rare example of the true heldentenor, or heroic tenor, specializing in the difficult voice parts of operas by Wagner and other Germany composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He has appeared on major operatic and concert stages not only in Australia and Europe, but also in the U.S., where he was partly trained.
Skelton was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1968. A key early breakthrough was a victory in Australia's McDonald's Aria Competition, which propelled him to studies in the U.S. at the University of Cincinnati and the San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program. He grew gradually into the heldentenor specialty, asserting that the idea of a young heldentenor was oxymoronic, and that the specialty would naturally emerge over time. At 29, Skelton made his debut in Wagner's Lohengrin with the Karlsruhe Opera; telephoning a teacher before the first performance, he was told to get off the phone and get on with it. Since then, he has appeared at the Bavarian State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Seattle Opera, La Scala in Milan, and the Paris Opéra, among other top halls. He has often sung German and Austrian repertory but has also ventured into big dramatic roles from Eastern Europe and Russia, including Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades and Janáček's Jenufa. His repertory also includes, in his native language, Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes. He won the Male Singer of the Year award at the International Opera Awards in 2014. Skelton is also a noted concert artist, having appeared with all the major Australian orchestras, the BBC Symphony, the BBC Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony, several top German orchestras, and the San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston Symphony Orchestras. His concert specialties include Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, and Missa Solemnis, Op. 123, and Mahler's orchestral song Das Lied von der Erde. Skelton's performances of the latter work have been issued several times on recordings, most recently in 2018, when he recorded it with mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle for the BR Klassik label, and in 2019, when he was featured in an Avi recording with the Düsseldorf Symphony under conductor Ádám Fischer. He appeared as Peter Grimes on the Chandos label in 2020, in a recording conducted by Edward Gardner, and he returned in 2021 in a recording of the orchestral song Verklärte Nacht, by Oskar Fried.