THE QUADRANGLE A singer with soul
Teddy Tahu Rhodes (9756) inhabits the skin of despicable and ruthless Baron Scarpia in New Zealand Opera’s production of Puccini’s Tosca as if born evil, owning the stage, terrorising and terrifying, until he meets his grisly end.
It is a role he knows well and, with his rich bass–baritone voice and formidable presence, Teddy relishes the challenge of playing one of opera’s nastiest villains – especially in his home town. “I was born and brought up in Christchurch. This is where it all began and there’s something very special about appearing here. It can be a bit daunting as I know so many people, but I love having the opportunity to come back.” While in Christchurch, Teddy also made time to visit College. As a student here in the 1980s, Teddy sang in the Chapel Choir and was in the choral group the Madrigal Singers, as well as being Head of Corfe House in his final year. He found his voice at College.
“Standing on the Quad on my last day at school, I overheard [Director of Music] Bob Field-Dodgson say to my mother I could make a career out of music one day. It was just a passing comment, but it stuck with me – coming, as it did, from someone who was so important to me in my formative years.” At Field-Dodgson’s prompting, Teddy joined the New Zealand Youth Choir and, even after all he has achieved, still describes the NZYC as among the greatest musical years of his life. He studied music and commerce at the University of Canterbury, before winning a scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. But after a year he returned to Christchurch to work as an accountant, singing on
the side, not sure he was ready to fully commit to a musical career. “The artistic life is very different from a life in commerce. I chose to study commerce because it seemed a logical path, but I always carried on with music. In the back of my mind, I think I always knew that was where I wanted to head.” “I woke up one morning, business as usual, an accountant in Christchurch, and later that day took a phone call from someone saying they would like to have me audition for a role with Opera Australia. That was it, I was off.” From Sydney, to London, to New York, to Paris, to Vienna … his work in opera and on the concert Before long, his big break came.
Christ’s College Canterbury
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