Are You Ready for Some...Opera? - From the NFL to the Opera Stage

Anyone heard the story of former NFL Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens pro football player turned opera singer, Ta’u Pupu’a?

And it is not only the booming numbers of the audience that ties opera to the NFL, opera is also attracting NFL athletes to the craft. One such former NFL player who has turned to a career in opera is former Cleveland Brown and Baltimore Raven pro football player, Ta’u Pupu’a.

Pupu’a will demonstrate his operatic talents and athleticism in Opera in the Heights’ 2007-2008 season performances of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur and Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca.

“Ta’u is truly an opera star on the rise,” said Maestro William M. Weibel, Artistic Director for Opera in the Heights. “This young man is not just another ordinary singer. He is a major talent and we are fortunate to have him here at Opera in the Heights for our upcoming productions.”

Exciting young lyric tenor Pupu’a was born in the South Pacific’s Polynesia. At the age of two he came with his family to Salt Lake City, Utah. Growing up, his two passions were football and music. He attended Weber State University on a football scholarship while pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree, during which time he was “discovered” by Bill Belichick and drafted to the NFL to the Cleveland Browns and on to the Baltimore Ravens. After sustaining an injury playing for the NFL, he changed career direction to follow his first passion – opera.

Pupu’a, a former NFL defensive lineman with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, is now a tenor honing his craft on scholarship at the Juilliard Opera Center in New York City. Just like his days as a professional football player, he is still performing for crowds, except now they’re dressed to the nines rather than in 49ers gear.

Drafted by the Cleveland Browns and then-head coach Bill Belichick (now a three-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots), Pupu’a had to reassess his career in football after a nagging foot injury kept him off of the field.

By the time he decided to make the switch from football to singing, Pupu’a already had a considerable set of tools — most notably, discipline, concentration and breathing — that paid off in both fields.

“Singing is a physical thing. You must sing with your body,” Pupu’a said. “In sports you play with your body, and in the same way singing is very athletic. You have to train your voice every day, you have to do exercises every day just like in football.”

Having traded in the weight room and drills that come with football for the scales and breathing exercises that come with singing, he is now gaining recognition around the country for his vocal skills.
Pupu’a worked with a voice teacher in New York for four years before catching his big break, the audition at Juilliard that got him his scholarship. As part of his study at Juilliard, he is learning to sing in French, German, Italian and Russian.

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