Monday, September 19, 2005
New Zealand baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes--early in his career (left) and more recently (center)
Here's another contemporary glamour boy of opera, New Zealand baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, of mixed European and Maori heritage. Like so many of the other young opera stars he can act as well as sing and hold an audienc's rapt attention. It doesn't hurt that he's tall and very handsome. He also shares with many "new singers" a devotion to music by contemporary composers.
A large number of the great singers I grew up with had perfectly gorgeous voices that were exclusively at the service of music of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many refused to do "modern music" and an air of the museum hung over opera and the concert hall.
Today's singers are far more adventurous and insist on performing the music of NOW. Many even commission new work instead of waiting for it to come to them. Among the young composers they favor are Ricky Ian Gordon and Jake Hegge whose music admits to a wide variety of influences from jazz and pop to world music. This is another way in which everything is different now--traditional audiences often feel alienated while younger, much more eclectic crowds are rediscovering opera houses and recital halls. And speaking of recital halls, American soprano Dawn Upshaw sings one of the song cycles written for her in costume and lying UNDER the piano instead of standing formally in the curve of its side. Theater and the concert platform are beginning to merge.Anyway here's Teddy in the very successful operatic version of the movie "Dead Man Walking" (left) and in a grainy but revealing still from the opera based on Tennessee William's "A Streetcar Named Desire" (center). Both were big hits for him, as was his star turn as the Pilot in Rachel Portman's opera "The Little Prince" adapted from the beloved French children' story.
Here's a bitter, hard-hitting little presentation on George Bush and the federal government's response to the hurricane and the immense damage their inactivity did to New Orleans and its population: http://www.wiseass.org/files/katrina1.swf