Dame Kiri Te Kanawa says beatings by school nuns made her 'tough'
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has revealed the abuse she suffered at the hands of school nuns as a child - but says it helped make her the tough performer she is today.
The opera star stunned a Whanganui audience with the revelation during a speaking event with opera singer and Baptist Church minister, Rodney McCann, the Whanganui Chronicle reported.
"I am as tough as I am today because from age 12, when I was at a convent school in Auckland, I was beaten by the nuns," she told a crowd of several hundred fans.
"You have to be tough in the opera world or you are not going to make it. Just because you can sing an aria does not make you an opera singer."
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Te Kanawa was adopted by Gisborne parents as a baby, and sent to Auckland, where she studied at St Mary's College for Girls.
It was there that she began to study opera under Dame Sister Mary Leo, an acclaimed coach who also trained Dame Malvina Major.
Te Kanawa was in Whanganui over the weekend to mentor 22 young singers at the NZ Opera School's two-week immersion course.
"If they do decide to go and have a career like this then it's got to be really worthwhile," she said.
"That they want to put up with all the sacrifices, the work and everything to do with it. If they want to go overseas, fine, then let's look at the situation. But I would hate for them to go over and discover that they are just one of many."