Phillip Rhodes


"Phillip Rhodes was a revelation as the Count (Il Trovatore), lots of presence and a big elegant Italianate voice."

Owen Mortimer, Opera Now

"The role of Aeneas settles easily within the range of the young baritone Phillip Rhodes. His dark coloured voice possesses an attractive rugged quality. A pity that Purcell does not give Aeneas more to do."

Antony Lias, Opera Brittania

"The ghastly Scarpia was delivered with aristocratic relish and silky disdain by Phillip Rhodes"

Michael Tanner, The Spectator

"As it turned out the most intriguing performance on stage was that of Rhodes as Scarpia. His virile baritone voice was sumptuous in texture, riding the orchestral and choral waves..."

Michael Sinclair, The Opera Critic

"As Marcello, New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes has a nonchalant authority to go with his rock-solid technique."

Ron Simpson, What's On Stage

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UK-based New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes was the winner of the 2005 New Zealand Aria Competition and was awarded second place at the International Montserrat Caballe Competition in 2008. He is a former Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera and has since appeared regularly with the company in principal roles.

In the 2020-21 season he sings Father Hansel and Gretel (Scottish Opera’s filmed production), and Don Pizarro Fidelio in a concert performance with Auckland Philharmonia.

Recent highlights include his Royal Opera House debut as Escamillo Carmen; his role debut in the title role of The Marriage of Figaro (Opera North); his house debut at Nederlandse Reisopera as Scarpia Tosca; Escamillo Carmen, Speaker The Magic Flute and cover Renato Un ballo in maschera (Welsh National Opera); Jud Fry Oklahoma! (Grange Park Opera); King Le Cid (Dorset Opera); and Escamillo Carmen (Grange Festival). In his native New Zealand, he has recently appeared as Judge Turpin Sweeney Todd, Scarpia in a new production of Tosca, and his role debut as Giorgio Germont La traviata.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Father, Hansel and Gretel

Scottish Opera, February 2021

[Nadine Benjamin] is matched with a beautifully sung father in Phillip Rhodes. Both here make their company debuts, and I hope we see them both again soon

Simon Thompson, Bachtrack, 10 February 2021

The singing is top class too, with company debuts for Phillip Rhodes, who brings vocal power and real charm to The Father

Keith Bruce, VoxCarnyx, 10 February 2021

Phillip Rhodes’s (beautifully sung) Father

Neil Fisher, The Times, 9 February 2021

The baritone Phillip Rhodes’s Father encapsulates the humour of David Pountney’s English translation of the libretto

Mark Brown, The Telegraph, 5 February 2021

The Marriage of Figaro (Figaro), Opera North

February 2020

The New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes relaxed into the title role immediately, despite taking it on for the first time. It fitted him like a glove. His Figaro retained unclouded optimism in the face of every setback, helped by warm, clear tone and eyebrows that crinkled with mirth at every excuse.

Opera Magazine, Martin Dreyer

Rhodes’s considerable acting skills and dark voice were just right for the part.

Bachtrack, Richard Wilcocks****

Phillip Rhodes was an outstanding Figaro: he has an impressive roster of roles to his name, and his flexible, finely coloured baritone blended beautifully with Fflur Wyn’s mercurial Susanne. Much thought had been given to their duets … their vocal intertwining was sublime.

MusicOMH, Melanie Eskenazi****

This cast is led by Rhodes and Wyn who have put on an excellent performance.

The Reviews Hub, Dawn Smallwood

Performances by the main cast are faultless. Phillip Rhodes gives a muscular performance as Figaro.

Manchester Evening News, Yakub Querishi

Carmen, Welsh National Opera

September 2019

...Phillip Rhodes's Escamillo balanced bravado with charm.

Opera Magazine, Rian Evans, November 2019

The Magic Flute, Welsh National Opera

March 2019

I was impressed by Philip Rhodes’ Speaker

Opera Today, Claire Seymour, 8 March 2019

The two priests (...Phillip Rhodes) combine their sober songs with the gravity required by Sarastro's temple...

Olyrix, Mark Everist, 15 May 2019

Tosca, Nederlandse Reisopera

October 2018

Phillip Rhodes, master of the wickedly raised eyebrow, lets his baritone smolder with subtly mixed nasal timbres., Joep Christenhusz, 14 October 2018

Phillip Rhodes did a very good job of Baron Scarpia, every inch a villain. Rhodes has a beautiful, dark voice with which he painted a perfect picture of the evil swindler with the character of a rotten medlar. His ‘Va, Tosca’ was lugubriously ominous.

Opera Gazet, Olivier Keegel, 18 October 2018

...above all Phillip Rhodes (Scarpia) who shows ultimate abuse of power. Beautifully sung, very convincingly acted and with great attention to detail perfectly directed.

Theaterkrant, Henri Drost, 14 October 2018

Phillip Rhodes is the ideal Scarpia...

Thea Derks, 14 October 2018

Le Cid, Dorset Opera

July 2018

Paul Gay and Philip Rhodes do sterling work as baritonal dignitaries...

The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen, 25 July 2018

Oklahoma! Grange Park Opera

June 2018

...the casting of operatic baritone Phillip Rhodes gives Jud a weight and sympathy...

The Stage, George Hall, 18 June 2018

The other vocal star is Phillip Rhodes (Jud Fry), also the only operatic member of the cast. His rich, sonorous baritone almost makes up for the fact that Jud’s song is one of the weakest musical numbers.

British Theatre Guide, Louise Lewis, June 2018

Rhodes, meanwhile, has an eerie ability to draw silence in around him. He’s vulnerable as much as menacing, and his Jud could be the bullied kid brother of Carousel’s Billy Bigelow.

The Spectator, Richard Bratby, June 2018

Rhodes plays Jud with subtle eeriness, even managing to garner a touch of sympathy from the audience before his particularly sinister characteristics come to light. His powerful baritone mirrors the fearful dominance he has over Laurey.

Broadway World, Fiona Scott, 9 June 2018

Un ballo in maschera, Opera North

February 2018

Phillip Rhodes provides a vigorous, full-blooded Anckarström, giving credibility to his sudden change of heart towards the monarch he has loyally served.

Financial Times, George Hall, 6 February 2018

Phillip Rhodes delivered gallons of warmth...his sound nicely focused.

Opera Magazine, Martin Dreyer​, March 2018

The singing and acting, however, were of a high standard. The three principle roles were all well cast. The New Zealand Baritone, Phillip Rhodes, made a particularly strong impression as the angry Anckarstrom; and the confrontation with Amelia in the opening scene of Act III was, perhaps, vocally and emotionally the highpoint of the opera.

Opera Now, Antony Arblaster, April 2018

Pagliacci & Cavalleria Rusticana, Opera North

September - November 2017

New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes was really impressive as her pianist lover Silvio, singing with a rich tenderness.

Richard Wilcocks, Bachtrack, 17 September 2017

Baritone Phillip Rhodes, an outstanding Alfio, conveyed an appropriate harshness as the equivalent of a small-time Mafioso, and had plenty of stage business around the vehicle. His scene during the Intermezzo was particularly moving. He smashed a chair, then wept after hearing about his wife Lola’s infidelity, ending up sitting in the driver’s seat.

Richard Wilcocks, Bachtrack, 29 September 2017

Phillip Rhodes brought a warm baritone to Alfio...

Martin Dreyer, Opera Magazine, November 2017

Carmen, The Grange Festival

June 2017

Baritone Phillip Rhodes as Escamillo impressed because he not only sang with decent French but actually sang with elements of French style giving the music a slight nasal twang which was perfect. In this relatively small theatre, he was able to demonstrate his nicely fluid top, and decent low notes in the Toreadors song. For all the fame of the music, this is a role which can easily fall flat in the theatre, and Rhodes ensured that it didn't.

Planet Hugill, Robert Hugill, 12 June 2017

But casting (and this is predominantly a young troupe) requires significant roles to be taken by singers with stage presence. A suave Phillip Rhodes as Escamillo has this in spades and there is no doubting the generosity of his voice and his ‘Toreador’ number filled the stage; rich tones and smouldering looks form a perfect recipe.

Classical Source, David Truslove, 11 June 2017

…Phillip Rhodes as Escamillo delivers ‘Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre’ very effectively.

Music OMH, Sam Smith, 12 June 2017

New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes’ Escamillo combines a macho image with inner emotional sensitivity.

The Stage, George Hall, 16 June 2017

The Snow Maiden, Opera North

January 2017

The eventual object of her emotions, Mizgir, is sung by Phillip Rhodes. He portrays his agony of love for the Snow Maiden with superb longing. Mizgir is the one true tragedy in the story, and Rhodes’ anguish shines through in his superb baritone.

OnMagazine, Sandra Callard, January 2017

Her final scene with new love Mizgir (played by the richly voiced New Zealand Baritone Philip Rhodes) was moving and thoughtfully choreographed. It's a shame that Miskelly and Rhodes didn't have more singing to do as there were flashes of real quality in their performances - we can only blame Rimsky-Korsakov for that.

The Yorkshire Times, Richard Trinder, January 2017

Sweeney Todd, New Zealand Opera

October 2016

Phillip Rhodes is commanding as Judge Turpin, riding that fine balance between the civility and the barbarity of the character, showing us just how thin the facade is between the gentleman and the monster within.

Broadway World, Sam Jury, 14 October

Phillip Rhodes as a saturnine Judge Turpin added a nicely tuned depravity to the whole messy business...

The Press, Christopher Moore, 13 October

Phillip Rhodes’ rich baritone portrayed a strong Judge Turpin, but one where the inner corruption and weakness were visible.

The Opera Critic, Douglas Elliot, 17 September

La Traviata, New Zealand Opera

July 2016

Phillip Rhodes brings his considerable power and gravitas to the role of Germont, arguably the only villain of the piece. With accuracy and purpose he commands the stage...

The Opera Critic, Michael Hooper, 14 July 2016

The other lead singers, notably Phillip Rhodes as the manipulative Giorgio Germont and Rachelle Pike as a feisty Flora, added their own lustre to a production which ultimately lacks absolutely nothing from go to woah.

Stuff, Christopher Moore, 15 July 2016

Andrea Chénier, Opera North

March 2016

in a large cast, there were notable contributions from Phillip Rhodes as Chénier’s friend Roucher.

Anthony Arblaster, Opera Now March

Phillip Rhodes is a sonorous Roucher.

Tom Sutcliffe, Opernwelt March

Tosca, New Zealand Opera

September 2015

As Scarpia, Phillip Rhodes has just the right power and charisma to catch the character's unredeemed villainy. Far from the wigged and corpulent old lecher you might have had, decades ago, in a period production, the New Zealand baritone is lean and sexy, a Mafioso wolf prowling for prey in Maunder's post-Mussolini Italy. Rhodes' voice soars above the strong-voiced chorus in Act I's Te Deum, and yet he can be snake-like and subtle, laying out his personal credo of evil.

William Dart, NZ Herald, 22/9/2015

It would have been easy for Rhodes’ Scarpia to be overshadowed by all this Wagnerian-scale singing from the romantic leads but he more than held his own through a combination of rich baritonal vocalism and a sense of barely restrained violence. His rather elegant stage deportment matches well with his suavity of tone, making Scarpia legitimately attractive in his dealings with Tosca. This elegance makes his sudden ferocious outbursts of anger, both vocal and physical, all the more shocking – a much more interesting portrayal than your usual venal tyrant. His voice also has enough richness to make himself the centre of the busy Te Deum scene, even with the hefty dose of incense.

Simon Holden, Bachtrack, 19/9/2015

As it turned out the most intriguing performance on stage was that of Rhodes as Scarpia. His youthful looks were far removed from the sleazy, brutish character that we often see, presenting rather a virile, masculine villain that in a different situation might have had little difficulty in seducing Tosca. (…) His virile baritone voice was sumptuous in texture, riding the orchestral and choral waves in the ‘Te Deum’ at the end of Act 1, matching Tosca’s outbursts in Act 2 note for note, and dominating every scene he was in as any good Scarpia should.

Michael Sinclair, The Opera Critic, 19/9/2015

Phillip Rhodes's performance as Baron Scarpia is excellent, brimming with malice and a thug-like authoritative control. He has a wonderful voice and was an excellent casting choice, able to stand alongside the powerful O'Neill. His portrayal perfectly captures that dark quality of corrupted people in power at the top, who can outwardly keep a calm and almost civilised manner, whilst simultaneously being the most ruthless and inhumane monsters imaginable.

Sam Jury, Broadway World, 22/9/2015

Phillip Rhodes' Baron Scarpia is vocally menacing, particularly in the Te Deum.

Takeshi Ito, Stuff, 18/9/2015

Rhodes, who has achieved recognition on the international opera stage, is brilliant in the part of the fanatically evil Scarpia, delivering the part with aplomb, in the nastiest possible way.

Marianne Kelly, Time Live, 18/9/2015

The romantic, freethinking artist Cavaradossi (Simon O’Neill) and the sleazy, greasy Scarpia (Philip Rhodes) were convincing in their tragic ideals, with the latter’s dark looks perfect for his mafia-infused role.

Antonina Elliott, National Business Review, 18/9/2015

Philip Rhodes, as the dark voiced villain Baron Scarpia, is right there with him vocally. The colours and power that he produces, his characterisation and concentration shows a fine operatic performer on the way up.

Penny Dodd, Theatre Review, 20/9/2015

As in any tragedy, love must be met with a destructive force. New Zealand’s own Phillip Rhodes takes on the dastardly Baron Scarpia, enforcer of the law with an iron fist and his band of lackeys. Rhodes relishes in the performance, giving life to the conniving Scarpia as he entertainingly plans to ignite Tosca’s jealousy and tear the lovers apart. Supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, Rhodes is absolutely one to watch.

Emma Keesing, Concrete Playground, 18/9/2015

The villainous Baron Scarpia, played by Phillip Rhodes, embodies the manipulation and strength of this evil man who looks so suave he could’ve stepped out of Goodfellas or The Godfather. He’s a wonderful performer whose voice adds the right level of perilous gravitas the story needs.

Ingrid Grenar, Keeping up with New Zealand, 19/9/2015

As the Baron Scarpia, Rhodes, while maybe more elegant than evil, nevertheless has a rich and full baritone voice that gives the character great authority.

Ewen Coleman, The Dominion Post, 12 October 2015

While Phillip Rhodes, another New Zealander making his mark on the international scene, injected his portrayal of Scarpia with a wonderful pervading menace.

Manawatu Standard, 11 October 2015

As an elegantly dressed Scarpia, Rhodes' rich baritone voice has the menace of a Mafia Don determined to have Tosca.
His is a cold passion, which conveys he will have his way and that words are only words.

Mary Bryan, Wanganui Chronicle, 22 October 2015

Sweeney Todd, Victorian Opera

July 2015

Phillip Rhodes gave Judge Turpin undeviating polish.

Paul Selar, Herald Sun

Lucia de Lammermoor, Mercury Theatre, Auckland, NZ

October 2014

Phillip Rhodes, as Enrico, dealt out testosterone thrust with immaculate bel canto credentials…

William Dart, New Zealand Herald

Phillip Rhodes has experience in the role of Lucia's brother, Enrico, and it showed with his complex portrait of the character....Vocally, things were tip-top too as he filled the theatre with his ample baritone, full and rich from the bottom range to his thrilling high notes but with a subtle ear for dynamics.

Simon Holden, Bachtrack

Phillip Rhodes, the Maori baritone singing Enrico, has a wonderfully dark voice, clear articulation and impressive stage presence (as audiences in Leeds and at Dorset Opera will know).

Nicholas Tarling, Opera

La Bohème, New Zealand Opera

July 2014

Props also go to Rhodes, who radiates a blokey beefcake swagger as the volatile painter...

Cityscape Christchurch

Phillip Rhodes (Marcello)...did a splendid job as Rodolfo's cronies, singing strongly and bolstering the realism of the ensemble

Patrick Shepherd, Christchurch Press

La Boheme, Opera North UK

May, 2014

…and Phillip Rhodes’s warm-toned Marcello head the rest of a first-class cast.

Martin Dreyer, The York Press

…the artist Marcello, played with suitable youthful enthusiasm by Philip Rhodes.

John Leeman, Seen and Heard International

La Boheme, Opera North

(April 2014)

As Marcello, New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes has a nonchalant authority to go with his rock-solid technique.

Ron Simpson,

Phillip Rhodes was a warm-voiced, reliable Marcello.

Opera Magazine

Phillip Rhodes plays a virile Marcello.

Alfred Hickling, The Guardian

Dido & Aeneas, Opera North

(February 2013)

Phillip Rhodes’s firm baritone just keeps Aeneas from becoming the usual wimp.

Martin Dreyer, The Press

The role of Aeneas settles easily within the range of the young New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes, dressed in the uniform of a naval commander. His dark coloured voice possesses an attractive rugged quality - an ideal vocal match for Helen Stephen's Dido. A pity that Purcell does not give Aeneas more to do.

Antony Lias, Opera Brittania

Phillip Rhodes, appearing for the first time with Opera North, brings a powerful presence to Aeneas, coming into his own with “Yours be the blame, ye gods!

Richard Wilcocks, Bachtrack

Hohepa (Jenny McLeod), NBR New Zealand Opera

March 2012

Phillip Rhodes as Hohepa gave a strong performance with an expressive voice

John Daly-Peoples, The National Business Review

Hohepa, sung affectingly by Phillip Rhodes, his voice mature and attractive, is a humane figure who understands the good intentions of the settler and seeks to avoid the polarisation of attitudes.

New Zealand Listener

Phillip Rhodes illuminated the title role, whether tossing off two children's songs or engaging in a laconic confrontation with Robert Tucker's snooty portrait painter.

William Dart, NZ Herald

One of the best things about the work is the way McLeod has injected humor into what might be an unrelievedly grim evening. This is particularly true of Hohepa himself, portrayed with dignity but also a sly sense of fun by the fresh-voiced baritone Phillip Rhodes.

Mike Silverman, CNS News

Phillip Rhodes in the title role is strong in every way

Michael Gilchrist, Theatre Review

He looked and sounded splendid throughout, and had both powerful and touching moments.

Peter Mechen, Middle C

Carmina Burana, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

October 2011

Welcoming us to the tavern scene, Rhodes brought the same dramatic acumen that won him the 2007 Lexus Song Quest.

William Dart, NZHerald

Tosca, Dorset Opera

July 2011

Swarthy Phillip Rhodes was a bit on the young side for Scarpia but is sure to mature into the role and become a formidable interpreter.

Simon Thomas, WhatsOnStage

The ghastly Scarpia was delivered with aristocratic relish and silky disdain by Phillip Rhodes, completing a stylish trio.

Michael Tanner, The Spectator

Turandot, New Zealand Opera

September 2007

Phillip Rhodes (Ping), Adrian McEniery (Pang) and Benjamin Fifita Makisi (Pong) are perfectly cast and their ensemble work is hugely watchable. The stand out is Rhodes, whose vocal command and charisma fills the stage and auditorium effortlessly.

Kate Ward-Smythe, Theatre Review

Lexus Song Quest

May 2007

In the final of the Song Quest, Rhodes sang the Prologue from Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci as his first operatic number. His second choice was Iago’s spine-tingling Credo from Verdi’s Othello. We heard, and saw, that Rhodes has the valuable ability to enter a part; his whole demeanour changed as he prepared to sing Iago, his face clouded, his body tautened, his voice-colour darkened.
In the first half, he sang Finzi’s Come Away Death with sustained lyricism and perfect diction.”

Rob Bid, New Zealand Listener

Lexus Song Quest

May 2007

In the final of the Song Quest, Rhodes sang the Prologue from Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci as his first operatic number. His second choice was Iago’s spine-tingling Credo from Verdi’s Othello. We heard, and saw, that Rhodes has the valuable ability to enter a part; his whole demeanour changed as he prepared to sing Iago, his face clouded, his body tautened, his voice-colour darkened.
In the first half, he sang Finzi’s Come Away Death with sustained lyricism and perfect diction.”

Rob Bid, New Zealand Listener

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