Concert Hall, QPAC
September 20, 2018

No singer is infallible, but it’s inevitably disappointing when a star has to pull out – especially one as highly anticipated as Australian heldentenor Stuart Skelton singing his acclaimed Peter Grimes. A stir ran through the audience when Brisbane Festival Artistic Director David Berthold announced after interval that Skelton wouldn’t be singing the second half of this semi-staged production of Britten’s opera, the festival’s centrepiece, and a signature role Skelton hasn’t sung in Australia since Neil Armfield’s production in Sydney in 2009. This performance has been much hyped, especially since the triumph of Skelton’s Tristan with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra last month. Even unwell, though, Skelton gave a sense in the first half of why he is – and has been for many years – the Grimes of choice, giving a nuanced, emotionally rich performance as the outcast fisherman.

Stuart Skelton and Mark Stone. Photo © Stephanie Do Rozario

With a libretto by Montagu Slater based on poetry from George Crabbe’s The Borough, Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes depicts a closed community hostile to difference, living alongside and depending upon a mercurial sea, which in Britten’s vivid...