Opera’s Teddy worth a cuddle

Opera’s Teddy worth a cuddle

Teddy Tahu Rhodes is not your everyday opera singer. But the tall, tanned and tattooed star of A Streetcar Named Desire, begs to differ.

The perception of what an opera singer is like is entirely removed from reality, he said.

For some reason opera, and the people in it, are viewed as being really conservative, and it’s something the whole industry is trying to get away from.

Opera Australia’s latest offering, the Australian premiere of Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, is testament to that.

In the story Blanche (Yvonne Kenny), the fading southern belle, has been driven from her Mississippi home, but finds no welcome in the modern world of New Orleans. Her sister Stella takes her in, and her husband’s friend Mitch offers Blanche one last chance at love.

But it is Stella’s husband, the charismatic but brutal Stanley (Tahu Rhodes), who holds the cards which decide Blanche’s future.

While Tahu Rhodes smokes a cigarette during rehearsals for the production, Kenny cries foul over the Coca-Cola spilt on her dress. This, says Tahu Rhodes, sets the scene for Bruce Beresford’s take on A Streetcar Named Desire.

It’s a modern story and a modern role, he says.

I personally think I am more suited to these parts -“ where the role evokes a response from the audience and a response in me.

The starry-eyed gay men of Sydney, however, almost missed their chance to ogle at Tahu Rhodes.

I was an accountant for seven years, and was just doing a bit of singing on the side, he said.

Luckily for everyone, Tahu Rhodes got a break with Opera Australia in 1998. And the highly regarded performances that ensued, both nationally and internationally, catapulted him into opera stardom.

But the question on everyone’s lips is -“ just how does this opera singer feel about being the gay pin-up boy for Opera Australia?

I am flattered, he said. It’s great to be appreciated.

A Streetcar Named Desire runs from 2 August to 29 August. For tickets phone Opera Australia on 9318 8200 or Sydney Opera House on 9250 7777.

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