Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Guy Noble (State Opera South Australia)


Bass-baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes is one of Australia’s most beloved singers, whose repertoire spans opera, musical theater, folk song and even pop. A man with the common touch, his popularity has remained intact, attracting a larger and more loyal fan base than perhaps any other classically trained singer in Australia. His partner at this event, Guy Noble, is also appreciated as a conductor, presenter, writer (he is a regular and witty contributor to Limelight with his column of the month Soapbox) and prized pianist and accompanist. Since this concert was announced by State Opera South Australia earlier in the year, the return of the Great Teddy has been eagerly awaited.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Photo provided

From Rossini’s familiar opening fanfare Largo al factotum, the public has shown its appreciation. Her voice is an instrument of great beauty and strength, having no trouble filling the room. From there it was back to Handel Xerxes and the popular Ombra mai fu (commonly called the Largo of Love). The tone and seductive quality of Rhodes’ voice remains intact. There is a velvety richness and great resonance in the lower part of her register, and her voice exudes confidence and authority. Later in the program, he will return to the opera with an excerpt from the Don Carlo.

He then performed a trio of perhaps the most popular romantic lieder (the An die Musik and I am Frühling, and Schumann’s wedding gift to Clara, Widmung) where her tone became warmer and more intimate. He also displayed a touching sense of fragility when he diminuendo and the falsetto prevailed, displaying a mastery of form that brought comparisons to the legendary Hans Hotter. However, there were times when vocal beauty was presented at the expense of clarity of diction. And this is where we remembered the finesse of a Guy Noble guide. And it is a specialized art. Noble is possibly the best we have. He has a wonderful pedigree as a former pupil of the late Geoffrey Parsons – another Sydneysider, who was the best of his time taking over from Gerald Moore, who worked with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Victoria De los Ángeles and Olaf Baer on disc and recital.

Noble also proved to be a very sympathetic interpreter of Chopin, playing a familiar nocturnal (Op. 9, No 1) as an interlude after these songs.

Rhodes and Noble were comfortable together and often humorous partners on stage, entering the folk song To South Australia as a way to observe their current trials and tribulations to get to Adelaide. Rhodes even momentarily swapped roles with Noble, accompanying him in the opening of If I were a rich man of violin on the roof. Revisiting its success for Opera Australia by South Pacific (he gave over 300 performances as plantation owner Emile de Becque), it was on Rodgers and Hammerstein with very familiar songs in Oh what a beautiful morning of Oklahoma!, then the under and over valued in It may also be spring of State Fair and An enchanted evening of South Pacific. The public has certainly shown its appreciation for these, but the rhythms of the State Fair previews were often choppy, breaking the flow of the musical line. Before the break there was a brief return to opera with a confident and almost military interpretation of Figaro Neither andrai of The Marriage of Figaro.

After the break it was Gilbert and Sullivan with HMS chasuble‘s When i was a boy (with new comic book lyrics written by the multi-talented Noble), and a triumphant suitably i am a pirate king of The pirates of Penzance). Bock and Harnick If I were a rich man was a brief detour back to Broadway before ending with the 20th century Australian standards often associated with the tastes of the local old boy and famous bass baritone, Peter Dawson, including On the road to Gundagai and Clancy of the overflow.

It might have been able to include a more stimulating repertoire – educating an audience is certainly an important part of recital programming as well – but Rhodes has his own class of fans who admire his reach beyond limits. opera and lieder, and the program was enthusiastic. has received.

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