The Slovakian tenor explains why he hates accordions, why Mozart is like a pit stop and why Pearlfishers isn’t Brokeback Mountain.

“Didn’t anyone tell you? Never follow the tenor,” jokes Pavol Breslik at the end of our interview as he leads the way out of the labyrinthine tunnels beneath the Sydney Opera House. That kind of self-deprecating humour isn’t always what you connect with the higher-voiced operatic male, a breed more often associated with self-absorption and ego. But Slovakian-born Breslik, here to sing the role of Nadir in Opera Australia’s new production of Bizet’s Pearlfishers, isn’t your average opera star – hell, he was lucky he came across classical music at all.

As Faust for Zurich Opera. Photo Tanja Dorendorf

“I thought I would be a gardener or a waiter or something like that,” he laughs, flashing a trademark cheeky grin. “As a boy I was listening to Michael Jackson, Madonna – they were the new kids on the block. Then one day I went to the library where they had old vinyl LPs and I took out Turandotby Puccini. I thought it was a new band! When...

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