Dame Kiri Te Kanawa bows out

New Zealand’s most famous soprano has announced her retirement from opera. 

Half-Māori Dame Kiri Te Kanawa gave herself an operatic send-off by performing the role of the Duchesse de Crackentorp in Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment at the London Royal Opera House on her 70th birthday in March. 

Dame Kiri’s vibrant international career has spanned more than 40 years, during which she sang at the wedding of Prince Charles to Princess Diana and was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to opera. 

The soprano first saw La Fille du Régiment performed in Covent Garden by Luciano Pavarotti and Dame Joan Sutherland at the start of her career, and recounted how visiting the place again has brought back fond memories. 

“I’m loving being back at Covent Garden and re-connecting and celebrating that I have had a wonderful career,” she said. 

Nevertheless, Dame Kiri is looking forward to stepping out of the spotlight. 

“It’s a very, very high-energy job and a lot is expected from you,” she said. “You’re really expected to do more than you can cope with sometimes.” 

She stressed, however, that her retirement only affects roles in major operas, as she will still be performing a “full international schedule of concerts and recitals through until 2015 and beyond”. 

The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, which provides support to dedicated young musicians in New Zealand, will this year award £70,000 in commemoration of the star’s 70th birthday.


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