IF you had asked bass-baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes a few years ago why Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni was still popular with audiences, he would have given a very different answer to the one he does now.
“I would have said more than anything else it’s the music,” Rhodes said.
“It’s a Mozart opera that has been revered as one of the great operas ever written and I think it was certainly considered by him as his masterpiece.
“It’s interesting doing it now because the character Don Giovanni is quite relevant in today’s movement and social climate. I’ve had to deal with that in the role because it’s quite confronting.
“It’s confronting to do and I think it’s confronting to see, but I think that’s a good thing and I can’t go halfway with it, otherwise you skirt the issues.”
Rhodes, in the title role for WA Opera’s season, plays the “Don Juan”, a Spanish cavalier who roams the country seducing women with never a thought or care for their feelings until a price must be paid.
He said make-up, wig and costume played an important element in preparing for the part.
“It does remove you from who you are and puts you into the character which, doing a role like this, is quite important because it’s so far removed from who I am as a person; well at least I hope I am,” Rhodes said.
“I don’t tend to look in the mirror while I’m being made up and it’s really a relaxing thing to have done; quite soothing and meditative.”
The New Zealander, who is based in Melbourne, said he was far removed from his comfort zone before his first gig with Opera Australia, which followed a seven-year career as an accountant, working for Westpac Bank in Auckland.
“I was sitting in the makeup room before my debut, in a mist not knowing what was going on, questioning what I was doing and why was I there,” he said.
“I feel quite comfortable after almost 20 years but I still get nervous and a buzz going out on stage.
Even though I’m going back to a role like this that I’ve done so many times, I’m a lot older now, so it won’t be the same as what it was.
“It’s a very humbling thing to continue to be asked back to do it because I know there’s a lot of fantastic young performers who would do a wonderful job.
“It’s great to perform it as an older guy because you bring different skills and processes to it.”
What: Don Giovanni
Where: His Majesty’s Theatre
When : October 20 to 27