Kiri plays Nellie on Downton Abbey

20:28, Aug 13 2013
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
DAME KIRI: 'I couldn't say yes fast enough.'

Downton Abbey, the world's favourite country-house soap, is getting a dose of opera.

Producers say soprano Kiri Te Kanawa will appear in the upcoming fourth season as real-life diva Nellie Melba.

The New Zealand-born singer said "I couldn't say yes fast enough" to appearing in a show she loves - and enjoyed her time on set so much she named her new dog Abbey.

Te Kanawa sang for journalists in London at a preview of the new season on Tuesday (local time). In the new series, Melba - a huge star of the early 20th century - joins the aristocratic Grantham clan for a house party.

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AP