Opera star Kiri Te Kanawa says her public singing career is over

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has announced her retirement from singing.
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has announced her retirement from singing.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa says she won't sing in public again.

The Kiwi opera icon, 73, told the BBC she was retiring from singing, her life's work.

"I don't want to hear my voice," Te Kanawa said. "It is in the past."

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa performs with the Vector Wellington Orchestra  in 2008.
PATRICK HAMILTON

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa performs with the Vector Wellington Orchestra in 2008.

"When I'm teaching young singers and hearing beautiful young fresh voices, I don't want to put my voice next to theirs."

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Te Kanawa said she stopped performing a year ago, but had not announced her retirement until now.

Her last show was a concert in Ballarat, Australia last October. "Before I'd gone on, I said, right, this is it. And that was the end," she said.

Te Kanawa announced her retirement from opera in 2014, but continued to perform other music in New Zealand and internationally.

Te Kanawa was born Claire Mary Teresa Rawstron in Gisborne, but took on the name of her adoptive father Thomas Te Kanawa.

She went to school at St Mary's College in Auckland. In her teens and early 20s, Te Kanawa was a Kiwi pop star, performing at clubs around New Zealand.

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Her transition to opera came in 1965 after she won the Mobil Song Quest and went to London to study.

Te Kanawa's breakthrough role came in 1971, when she was cast as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro.

From there she performed in productions in France, Australia, America, Austria, Italy and other countries.

In 1981, an estimated 600 million people around the world heard Te Kanawa sing when she performed Let the Bright Seraphim by Handel at the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The following year, Te Kanawa was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to opera.

In later years she has been a mentor to many young New Zealand singers, particularly through her Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, which aims to provide talented New Zealand singers and musicians with mentoring and (sometimes financial) support.

 - Stuff

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