Richard F Gold Career Grant recipient Ta’u Pupu’a is a graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center and is a native of the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga. The tenor attended Weber State University in Utah on a football scholarship while pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree, during which time he was drafted to the N.F.L. to the Cleveland Browns and on to the Baltimore Ravens. After sustaining an injury playing for the N.F.L., he changed career direction to follow his first passion–opera. In the 2011/12 season Pupu’a will make his professional opera debut with San Francisco Opera in the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier followed by his European debut with Den Norske Opera as Rodolfo in La Boheme. In spring 2012 he will appear as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with Heidelberg State Theater. Recent engagements include 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, and Bacchus in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos for the Tanglewood Music Centre.