Richard F Gold Career Grant recipient Ta’u Pupu’a is a graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center (ADOS) and is a native of the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. He attended Weber State University in Utah on a football scholarship during which time he was drafted to the N.F.L. to the Cleveland Browns and on to the Baltimore Ravens. After sustaining an injury playing for the N.F.L., he changed career direction to follow his first passion – opera.
In the 2011/12 season Ta’u Pupu’a made his professional opera debut with San Francisco Opera in their world premier of Heart of a Soldier, and appeared in recital at his Alma Mater, Weber State University. He recently made his European debut as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with Theatre der Stadt Heidelberg, and in 2012/13 Mr. Pupu’a will appear at Opera Santa Barbara as Radames in Aida, Lyric Opera of Baltimore as Borsa in Rigoletto and Hawaii Opera Theatre as Cavaradossi in Tosca.
Recent engagements include Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde for the Alexandria Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem for Albany Symphony, Terrence McNally’s Masterclass at the Kennedy Center, starring Emmy and Tony Award winning actor Tyne Daly, and Bacchus in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos under Christoph von Dohnanyi for the Tanglewood Music Centre. In November 2010 he appeared in concert aboard the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s “Fabled Cities of Morocco and Andalusia” cruise. His operatic repertoire includes the Duke in Rigoletto, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Cassio in Otello, Cavaradossi in Tosca, the Prince in The Student Prince, and Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur. In 2007 Pupu'a was awarded the encouragement award in the Giulio Gari Foundation vocal competition. In summer 2008 Ta’u Pupu’a made his role debut as Don Jose in Carmen while participating in the Chautauqua Music Intstitution . 2008-2009 season engagements included a return to Knoxville Opera for The Student Prince and New Moon in concert, the Government Minister in Schwergewicht, oder Die Ehre der Nation and Dr. Caius in Falstaff with the Juilliard Opera Center, and concert performances of La bohème and Madama Butterfly with the Alexandria Symphony. Summer 2009 saw Mr. Pupu’a studying in Italy with Kiri Te Kanawa at the George Solti Bel Canto Academy, and he also performed in concert and recital whilst there.
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