He’s the Kiwi singer who has run away with the heart of one of Australia’s best-loved actress, but friends of Christchurch-born opera star Teddy Tahu Rhodes say he’s done nothing wrong in his relationship with Blue Heelers star Lisa McCune. With a media furore erupting across the ditch last week after pictures emerged of Teddy (45) and Lisa (41) passionately kissing, sources close to the couple have jumped to their defence, claiming the relationship was “common knowledge” among the cast of their musical South Pacific, and that both their marriages have ended.
After the paparazzi pictures in Sydney were published, Lisa was seen in Melbourne with husband Tim Disney and their children Archer (11), Oliver (nine) and Remy (seven). Looking happy to be spending time with her family, Lisa grinned as she rode her bicycle with her kids. But as Australian media noted, she was no longer wearing her wedding ring. Tim and Lisa appeared amicable as they talked over the fence after the bike ride, but friends say their 12-year marriage is over.
Teddy’s own marriage to US soprano singer Isabel Leonard (30) is also said to have ended. The pair wed in 2008 and have been living in New York ever since. Their son Teo was born there in 2010. Isabel previously described Teddy as a romantic, telling W magazine in 2009 that “cupid had it out for us” when they first met in Santa Fe. “We were sort of avoiding each other, like high school kids with a crush,” she said. “Finally, his director, who must have seen me lurking around at rehearsals, told him, ‘You have a fan. She’s been here every day.’ We met and sort of fell into each other immediately.”
Even though Teddy is well known in the opera world, he’s generally preferred to keep his personal life under wraps. Professionally, he is a well-respected singer who has travelled around the world and performed for major opera companies, including the New York City Opera. Teddy – whose handsome features and buff body have seen him compared to both Sting and Brad Pitt – rose to fame in the music world after winning the New Zealand Mobil Song Quest in 1991.
The opportunity enabled him to secure funding to study at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama. A former Christ’s College student, Teddy never intended to become an opera singer and despite being selected for the New Zealand Youth Choir, he studied to be an accountant. Eventually, the lure of music became too much and Teddy made his international debut for Opera Australia in 1998.
Teddy has often had sizzling chemistry with his on-stage leading ladies, but the attraction between him and Lisa was there for all to see during rehearsals. Even the grandson of South Pacific’s original author, Oscar Hammerstein, commented that he “felt sparks” between the two leads.