CCM names Voice Professor Stuart Skelton as J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair in Opera

An internationally acclaimed and award-winning artist, Skelton will lead CCM Opera in his new role

Grammy nominee and 2014 International Opera Awards Male Singer of the Year Stuart Skelton has been selected to lead the UC College-Conservatory of Music’s internationally-renowned opera department into a new era of excellence. CCM Dean Stanley E. Romanstein has announced the appointment of alumnus Stuart Skelton as the college’s new J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair in Opera.

CCM has long been ranked amongst the world’s elite opera training programs. We are proud to count opera as one of our signature centers of excellence and Stuart Skelton possesses the insight and expertise that will help us guide this program to future heights.

Stanley Romanstein

Stuart Skelton

Stuart Skelton. Photo/Guðmundur Ingólfsson

Skelton (MM Voice, ’95) joined CCM’s faculty in August 2021, working closely with faculty and supporting a full studio of students while balancing an international performance career. One of the finest heldentenors on stage today, Skelton’s repertoire encompasses many of opera’s most challenging roles, from Wagner's Parsifal, Tristan, Lohengrin, Erik and Siegmund to Beethoven’s Florestan and Saint-Saëns’ Samson to Britten’s Peter Grimes.

Skelton’s appointment as Chair in Opera begins on Jan. 3, 2022, after current head of CCM Opera Marie-France Lefebvre passes the baton to the heldentenor. Lefebvre has held the Chair in Opera position since 2019 and will continue to serve as Professor of Opera at CCM.

“I trust Stuart will take the department in new directions, putting his own print on the program,” Lefebvre says. “We have already had several conversations and many will follow as we all try to help each other and serve our students as best as possible. I want to express deep thanks to Stanley [Romanstein] for trusting I could do a job I never thought I could do, and for his constant support and endless patience. Thanks to Denton [Yockey] for his clear mind, calm in all situations, gently but firmly guiding me on this unknown territory. I also want to express my deep gratitude for Robin Guarino’s help, gentle suggestions, advice and tremendous support through the challenges of leading a department, and doing so in the midst of a pandemic!”

Skelton adds: “As my first semester of Professor of Voice at CCM draws to a close, I am beyond grateful to my students, colleagues and the CCM family for welcoming me so warmly back into the fold. It’s been joyously revelatory to me to be back and watch my students’ growth over the semester as singers and artists. I want to thank Dean Romanstein for his confidence in asking me to take on this new responsibility and of course my colleague Marie-France Lefebvre, whose tireless work and commitment in the position has put our students at the forefront of operatic talent in the US.”

Skelton was recently dubbed "one of the world's most exciting singers" in an interview with the Guardian. Earlier this year, the heldentenor performed as the featured soloist in the Last Night at the Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London’s Royal Albert Hall. He’s also featured in a critically acclaimed recording of Peter Grimes with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Choirs, which won Gramophone’s Classical Music Awards Recording of the Year and Opera Recording of the Year in October 2021.

The heldentenor is known for his outstanding musicianship, tonal beauty and intensely dramatic portrayals. Skelton has appeared in many of the world’s most celebrated opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, English National Opera, Paris Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Berlin State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, La Scala Milan, Dresden Semperoper the Vienna State Opera and with the Lucerne, Salzburg, Baden-Baden and Aix-en-Provence Festivals. His roles include the title roles in Tristan und Isolde, Lohengrin, Rienzi, Parsifal, Dmitrij, Otello and Peter Grimes as well as Florestan in Fidelio, Laca in Jenufa, Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer, The Kaiser in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos, Max in Der Freischütz,  Canio in Pagliacci, Gherman in The Queen of Spades, and Siegmund in Der Ring des Nibelungen

He continues to be in demand on concert stages around the world, having appeared with such orchestras as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich Radio Symphony Orchestras, London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Orchestras of Scotland and Wales and the Symphony Orchestras of Sydney, Melbourne, Western Australia and Tasmania. He has also appeared at the Edinburgh and Lucerne Festivals and in the BBC Proms. 

Throughout his career Skelton has been fortunate enough to work with many acclaimed conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Asher Fisch, Sir Andrew Davis, Edward Gardner, Daniele Gatti, Phillipe Jordan, Fabio Luisi, Sir Tony Pappano, David Robertson, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Donald Runnicles, Simone Young and Jaap van Zweden. Learn more about Skelton on his professional website.

In partnership with CCM colleagues as well as with local and international professional artists, Skelton and CCM Opera will launch a language and cultural immersion program that gives Artist Diploma students opportunities to study abroad and work with professional artists in Europe, beginning in fall 2022. Details on the new program will be announced in early 2022.

“I am excited about what we can do in service of our incredibly gifted and dedicated students, to make them the best they can be and to be ambassadors both here and internationally for the excellence that is espoused and embodied here at CCM,” Skelton says. “I’m honored and humbled to be assuming this new role and I look forward to making CCM Opera a powerhouse of talent, dedication and excellence in performance, in training and in artistry.”

About CCM Opera

CCM’s Department of Opera is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and highly recognized training programs for opera singers, coaches and directors. The program integrates the highest standards in voice training and musical coaching with comprehensive and challenging dramatic preparation. The program consists of dedicated teaching artists who are also celebrated professionals in their own right, widely and currently active in their respective fields.

As a result of this world-class training, CCM students enter their professions ready to succeed. Students and alumni regularly take top awards in major competitions including the Metropolitan Opera’s Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition (formerly known as the National Council Auditions). In 2021, Raven McMillon (MM Voice, ’20) was named a Grand Finals Winner of the competition. In 2019, student Elena Villalón was named a Grand Finals Winner of this competition. This marked the second consecutive year that a CCM singer “won the Met,” which is widely considered to be the nation’s most prestigious vocal competition. CCM alumna Jessica Faselt (MM Voice, 2016) was named a Grand Finals Winner in 2018. Faselt also received a prestigious Sara Tucker Grant award from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation earlier this year alongside fellow CCM alumna Kayleigh Decker (MM Voice, 2017).

About CCM

Nationally ranked and internationally renowned, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. The school’s educational roots date back to 1867, and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

CCM offers nine degree types (BA, BM, BFA, MFA, MM, MA, AD, DMA, PhD) in nearly 120 possible majors, along with a wide variety of pre-collegiate and post-graduate programs.

The synergy created by housing CCM within a comprehensive public university gives the college its unique character and defines its objective: to educate and inspire the whole artist and scholar for positions on the world stage.

Featured image at top: Portrait of Stuart Skelton. Photo/Guðmundur Ingólfsson