As he prepares for his leading role in Opera Australia’s new Ring, the Australian heldentenor talks Wagner.

When did you first become interested in singing opera?

I grew up in Sydney and in 1984 I spent some time doing work experience at the Opera House. I remember I saw Australian Opera’s production The Carmeliteswith Joan Sutherland conducted by Richard Bonynge and I thought that was something I might be able to do. I was only 15 at the time.

A heldentenor is quite a rare and specific voice – when did you first have an inkling that you might be one?

I think it was always thought that I might have a voice that was suited to the heavier end of the German repertoire. My teachers said that to me very early on, but they all said how important it was not to push the voice too far too soon. If you are going to sing this kind of role it’s crucial that you have a rock solid technique behind you before you start.

And who were you listening too back then?

At the time my role model was James King – and then Lauritz Melchior for very different reasons. Then later...