The first concert tour of From Broadway to La Scala in 2015, featuring Greta Bradman, Lisa McCune, David Hobson and you, sold out and became a best-selling CD and DVD. Were you expecting that?
I was really nervous about it last time. We all were a little bit, because it was a different format for us and when you do something for the first time you’re never sure if it’s going to have a platform.
What was great was that I think the people that put it together knew it would be a success. But combining opera and musicals, I wasn’t too sure how it would work, and yet it was received in a wonderful way, so that was great. It was quite a slick sort of show.
Did you have any say in what you got to sing or input in terms of the choice of repertoire?
Well, it was really chosen by our music director, Vanessa Scammell, in conjunction with Tyran Parke, the director. Vanessa knows what we all do so they put a suggested programme to us. We had a little bit of input into saying what sort of music we’d like to do, and then they decided who would sing duets together and which things we’d all sing together. I did my operatic stuff, as did Greta, and David and Lisa did some songs from musicals as well. And we all teamed up on other things, so it was a delight.
Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Photo © Spiritworks Studio
Last time you sang Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific – a musical you had performed in for Opera Australia and John Frost, with Lisa. In recent years, you’ve also performed in The King And I for OA, and Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd for Victorian Opera. How do you feel about musicals?
My area of expertise is more in the opera and classical repertoire, I think. I love doing the musicals, absolutely love it, but I think I’m aware that there are many people who are just much better at it than I am. It’s interesting how much the respect one has for everyone in their own field of expertise is enhanced when you step into it – as I’m sure it would be if they stepped into the opera field. You realise why they’re so wonderful at what they do. I mean, I love doing [musicals], but I’m not too sure I’ll be at the top of the list for a lot more!
Apparently this year’s From Broadway to La Scala will feature lots of new material, but also a few songs from last time. Do you know what you’ll be performing?
I don’t know how much I’m allowed to tell you. But I think it’s OK to say that I’ll be singing the soliloquy from Carousel and also some opera [arias by Mozart, Puccini and Bizet]. But when I saw the list I thought it was fantastic.
Will the concert include some banter between the songs?
Yes, it will. Last time, we scripted it a little bit, but the scripting was loose enough so that we could interact, given the different places we were in and the atmosphere in the hall and so forth. I mean, you’ve got people like Hobbo [David Hobson] and Lisa who can stand on a stage and talk all night! So the idea is that it is a night of music, but it’s also a night of getting to know us a little bit more as well, where we might tell little stories related to the songs.
Lisa McCune, David Hobson, Greta Bradman and Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Photo © Spiritworks Studio
Greta has said she loved the fact that because the four of you get on so well the concert had the feel of a family get-together. Do you agree?
Yes, I think that was the key to it. As in a lot of things, your relationship with your colleagues is what drives the night. And also, one of the great things that we found last time is that we fly in, and then we get together with the orchestra on the afternoon of the concert, rehearse from three o’clock until six and put the whole show together, and then perform that evening. So we worked with all these wonderful musicians, and the orchestra becomes a part of it. It’s a big night for them as well. They were always amazing and they really enhanced the whole product. All of them were wonderful to a tee. They embraced it all and they really made the evening.
Can you tell us what else you have on the horizon in 2018?
I’m doing some Christmas concerts [Teddy, ‘Tis the Season with soprano Cristina Russo, concert pianist Rhodri Clarke and harpist Alannah Guthrie-Jones in Hobart, Launceston and Albury]. And next year I’m back into opera a lot, actually. I’m doing mainly opera for the next couple of years – but unfortunately at this point I can’t tell you where and when and who with! [It has since been announced that he will sing Melcthal in Rossini’s final opera William Tell for Victorian Opera in July, and Lorenzo in a concert version of Bellini’s The Capulets and the Montagues, also for Victorian Opera, in September]. I’m really excited about that. It’s good to sit back from it for a while and refresh, and do other stuff, but ultimately that’s what I do, and I love it. And I love the big classical concerts. Not that I don’t love everything else, I do, but [opera is an] art form that I feel comfortable in, so it’ll be good to be doing it again.
And you’re also performing the Fauré Requiem with Alondra de la Parra and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in April?
Yes, I am, and I’m looking forward to doing that. The Agnus Dei is just divine. It’s actually the very first thing I ever recorded in Australia. I did a recording with the ABC in City Recital Hall, Angel Place in 2001, I think. I can’t imagine the venue can have been very old at that point. Obviously I was a much younger boy, so probably a lot sweeter sounding than I sound now – just a grumbly old 51-year-old! – but if it pops up on the radio I still listen to it and I think, “Oh my goodness, it is still one of the nicest things I’ve ever been part of and been able to do”. It’s beautiful.
From Broadway to La Scala is in Sydney November 18, Adelaide November 24 – 25, Melbourne November 30, Brisbane December 2, and Perth December 9.
Teddy Tahu Rhodes performs on Bravo’s Cruise of the Performing Arts 2018, November 13 – 21.