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This Game of Thrones Actor Gets Physical As Puck In Opera Philadelphia's A Midsummer Night's Dream

WRTI's Susan Lewis with actor Miltos Yerolemou

Fans of HBO's Game of Thrones know him as sword master Syrio Forel, who trains the young Arya Stark in the deadly art. Actor Miltos Yerolemou is also famous in the opera world for his role as Puck, the mischievous acrobatic fairy in Robert Carsen's staging of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, now making its U.S. debut with Opera Philadelphia, Feb. 8th to 17th.

Watch the video interviews below with WRTI's Susan Lewis where Miltos talks about swordplay, tumbling on stage, and what it's like to be the only non-singing character in an opera. While he says "all performers are physical," Miltos Yerolemou is especially so in at least two of his high-profile roles.

As Syrio Forel in Game of Thrones, Yerolemou teaches his young pupil Arya all that goes into sword fighting - from the emotions to the danger to the dance - tips he shared with WRTI's Susan Lewis:

He applies the same agility and charm to the different, yet equally physical role of Puck in Robert Carsen's staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a production that premiered in 1991, has traveled the world, and makes its US debut with Opera Philadelphia at the Academy of Music. Yerolemou stepped in as understudy for Emil Wolk over 20 years ago in Robert Carsen's production in Aix-en-Provence, and has taken over the role in recent revivals.

A 2015 review by Bachtrack after a performance in Aix-en-Provence declared "As Puck, Miltos Yerolemou has it all: a scorching twinkle in his eye, the richest of speaking voices, and fearless tumbling skills ... Carsen's Puck of choice since 2008 and he's the best yet."

In his visit to WRTI, Miltos Yerolemou shared his stories about acting and physically inhabiting a character, from TV drama to Shakespearean opera, with Susan Lewis.

The story in A Midsummer Night's Dream, written by Shakespeare in the late 1500's has enchanted audiences for centuries, giving birth to movies, ballets by Balanchine and Ashton, classical music by Mendelssohn, and the 1960 opera by Benjamin Britten.

Shakespeare's comic tale interweaves three plot lines in an enchanted forest: with two love lorn couples, a troop of bumbling workmen rehearsing a play, and a tumultuous relationship between the King and Queen of the fairies. They all connect in a delightfully confusing way with the help of the antics of Puck.

Puck, the only non-singing character in the opera, moves the story along with fairy dust sprinkled in the wrong places, acrobatics and insightful, now famous commentary: "Lord, what fools these mortals be."

And while moving from Game of Thrones to opera, to various other movie and TV roles -- from Star Wars to The Danish Girl, to a role in a new episode of The Crown—keeps him busy, Miltos Yerolemou also shared with us another passion: raising funds to help support those suffering with mental illness.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.