If the opera is named after your character, you better be up for the task. Stuart Skelton delivered big time as Peter Grimes. A search on this website for Stuart Skelton yields a single post with a horribly punny title -- Mahler Lied, No One Died> -- and a pithy comment: The tenor did not impress us as much. So why was Stu tearing it up on Friday evening in a semi-staged production with the San Francisco Symphony. We probably caught him on an off night a couple years back, he's the real deal, in turn tender and dreamy, then defiant and violent.
His voice can fill up the big Davies Symphony hall, that's no problem. But he can color it in so many ways. At one point, he recalls how his first apprentice -- he keeps accidentally destroying them maliciously -- asked for water before passing away, and Stuart goes from a soft head voice to a full chest voice, transitioning from one to the other effortlessly and seamlessly. The voice goes from the angelic tones that you hear for the entrance of Lohengrin to the guttural throaty sounds of a rude drunk lout all in the same aria.