Ta‘u Pupu‘a


Unique in the opera world, Ta’u Pupu’a was an outstanding NFL Defensive End, until a career-ending injury changed his life and led him to a new career – opera. A Juilliard Opera Center (ADOS) graduate, he is a native of the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. Pupu’a attended Weber State University in Utah on a football scholarship while pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree, when he was drafted to the NFL by Coach Bill Belichick of the Cleveland Browns, and later the Baltimore Ravens. After sustaining his injury, he changed career direction to follow his passion.

Thrilled to perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra, in conjunction with other recitals in Honolulu, Pupu’a will also sing the title role in the world premiere of Tim Finn’s (Split Enz and Crowded House) Star Navigator, making his Australian debut for West Australian Opera. Recently, he performed Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos for the Festival of the Aegean, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for Opera Connecticut, and concerts in Utah and Florida. 

Mr. Pupu’a made his professional opera debut, with San Francisco Opera in their 2011 world premier production of Heart of a Soldier, followed by a piano recital for Weber State University, and Dr. Caius in excerpts from Falstaff for the Richard Tucker Gala at Avery Fisher Hall. 2012 marked his European debut as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with Theater und Orchester Heidelberg. He made his British debut in Birmingham Opera’s acclaimed production of Tippett’s The Ice Break, directed by Graham Vick, as well as Robert Carsen’s world premiere production of Giorgio Battistelli’s CO2, at La Scala, Milan. He performed concerts in China, in Macau and Beijing, for the Asia America Opera Association Festival as well as Strauss’ Salome for Hong Kong Opera, and Bacchus in a concert version of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Danish Radio Concert Hall. 

He has established strong connections with a number of opera companies in the USA, including: Baltimore Opera (Otello, Nabucco); Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre (Turandot, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Beethoven Symphony No 9); Opera Connecticut (La Bohéme, Rigoletto, Tosca); Opera Fairbanks (Pagliacci); Hawaii Opera Theater (Tosca); Knoxville Opera (Norma); Opera Theater of the Rockies, and Opera Santa Barbara (Aïda). 

While studying at Juilliard Mr. Pupu’a also studied in Italy, under his mentor Kiri Te Kanawa, at the George Solti Bel Canto Academy, performing with her in concert and recital. Other early engagements included 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 Ariadne auf Naxos under Maestro Christoph von Dohnanyi for the Tanglewood Music Centre. 

Contact and further info:  taucalaf@aol.com and www.taupupua.com.