How did a nice Australian boy with a penchant for Rugby and Formula One gain entry into that most exclusive of clubs - the rarefied world of Opera?
Stuart Skelton's response will only surprise you if you have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing his substantial talent in the flesh, so to speak. "Substantial" is a key word in describing both his voice and physical presence. In tenorial terms he is the vocal and physical equivalent of a Rugby Prop Forward, meaning that he has the frame to support rarest of vocal fachs the heldentenor or heroic tenor whose principal domain is Wagner and roles like Hermann in Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades", Verdi's "Otello" (a long-term goal), and most notably the title role in Britten's "Peter Grimes" in which Skelton has repeatedly triumphed. In this exclusive audio podcast Skelton - fresh from an unscheduled triumph as the hapless Eric in English National Opera's new staging of Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" - talks to Edward Seckerson about his momentous journey from Down Under to pretty much all over, from San Francisco to Vienna where winning the prestigious Belvedere Competition set him on his heroic path. He talks, too, of the heldentenors of yesteryear that have spurred him to ever greater heights. This summer ENO's award-winning production of the opera they rightly own - Britten's "Peter Grimes" - heads lock, stock, and smoking barrels to the BBC Proms where on 24 August Skelton will again recreate his extraordinary performance under the baton of Edward Gardner and the watchful eye of his lucky mascot, Pigmund, the rock pig (who notoriously has his own Twitter account), who likes to party more than he likes to perform. Just as well.