The New Zealander baritone, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, was born to a British mother and a New Zealand father. The Maori word "Tahu", which means "to set on fire", was added to the family name soon after they settled in New Zealand. His parents divorced when he was an infant, and he grew up with his mother. In his final year of secondary school, Christ's College, Canterbury, Rhodes was selected for the New Zealand Youth Choir, where his musical potential was first identified. Following a relatively short period of formal lessons, he was entered into the 1986 Dame Sister Mary Leo Scholarship competition, which he won. He pursued private studies while studying at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, subsequently qualifying as an accountant. His teachers, at this time and later, included Mary Adams Taylor, Rudolf Piernay, and David Harper. In 1991 Rhodes won the Mobil Song Quest, the major competition of its type in New Zealand, securing funding to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He turned down an offer by the Guildhall of a scholarship for two years of further study, returning to New Zealand where he worked as an accountant for some years.
While working as an accountant in Christchurch, Teddy Tahu Rhodes maintained an association with Canterbury Opera, the local repertory opera company. In 1998 he made his international debut in an acclaimed performance of Dandini in La Cenerentola for Opera Australia, and was launched on an international career. Following his Australian debut, in 1999 he represented New Zealand in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.
Teddy Tahu Rhodes has sung in several world and Australian premiere performances such as The End of the Affair (Bendrix) and Dead Man Walking (Joe) by Jake Heggie, The Little Prince by Rachel Portman (The Pilot) as well as in Nigel Butterley’s Spell of Creation and Barry Conyngham’s Fix. His wide variety of other opera roles have included Mozart's Count Almaviva, Guglielmo, Papageno and Don Giovanni; Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream; Belcore in L'elisir d'amore; Billy in Billy Budd; Lescaut in Manon Lescaut; Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire; Escamillo in Carmen; Al Kasim in Hans Werner Henze's L'upupa; Silvio in Pagliacci, Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos, Leandro in The Love for Three Oranges and Antony in Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra.
Amongst the prominent opera companies and theatres in which he has performed are the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Australia, San Francisco Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Washington National Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Dallas Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, the Théâtre du Châtelet, the Santa Fe Opera, the New York City Opera and the Theater an der Wien. Teddy Tahu Rhodes was again in the news in January 2010 when he substituted at three hours' notice for an indisposed Mariusz Kwiecien in the role of Escamillo in the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD telecast of Carmen, a role he was to take over from Kwiecien later in the season.
In oratorio and choral works, Teddy Tahu Rhodes has appeared as the baritone soloist in performances of Georg Frideric Handel's Messiah with the Melbourne Symphony and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, and in Gabriel Fauré's Requiem with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Teddy Tahu Rhodes' recordings include several recital discs on ABC Classics including Mozart Arias with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, “The Voice”, a collection of arias and songs, and “Vagabond”, a collection of songs and song cycles including Ralph Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel with pianist Sharolyn Kimmorley. Also in his discography is the ABC Classics recording of George Frideric Handel's Messiah, Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, and he appeared with the Australian Chamber Orchestra on their album “Musical Renegades” (CD and DVD). His other DVD credits include the world premiere recording of Rachel Portman's opera The Little Prince (Sony, 2005) and Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes (The Metropolitan Opera HD Live Series, 2008).
Teddy Tahu Rhodes has been the recipient of several major awards. In 2004 he received an ARIA award for Best Classical Recording for his CD “The Voice”, and in 2006 he was the winner of the Limelight Award for Best Performance by a Soloist with an Orchestra for his Australian tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. In 2008 he won a Helpmann Award for Best Male Performer in an Opera for his role in Dead Man Walking.. In 2008 he received a Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.
Teddy Tahu Rhodes first married in 1989, a union that was dissolved amicably in 1996. He married mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard in December 2008. They are based in New York City.