Photo of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

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Kiri Te Kanawa was born in New Zealand and was singing publicly from the age of six. She travelled to London on a four year scholarship to study at the London Opera Centre. As a result of student performances in London and later small-scale but prestigious appearances, her voice caught the attention of Sir Colin Davis who was about to present his first major production at the Royal Opera House, and invited her to sing the leading soprano role. That debut, as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro (1971) was a sensation, and Te Kanawa rapidly moved into the front rank of international music stars.

Besides opera, she developed as an accomplished recitalist, concert soloist and recording artist, and has become one of the most sought after performers in the music world.

A familiar figure in the major opera houses of four continents, Kiri Te Kanawa performs a large repertoire of lyric soprano heroines by Strauss, Verdi, Gounod, Mozart, Puccini, Tchaikovsky and Bizet. On the concert platform, she appears constantly with the principal orchestras of Britain, Europe, Asia and Australasia, and her ease with cameras and recording studios has brought her art to enormous audiences both within and without the classical musical genre.

In addition to complete operas, Te Kanawa's recordings include aria collections from Bizet, French and Italian selections, song cycles by Berlioz, DuParc and Ravel, and the famous Songs of the Auvergne albums, which topped the best-seller charts in Britain. Recently, the album "Maori Songs" was released to much acclaim.

Her operatic performances on video include Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Der Rosenkavalier, Die Fledermaus, Manon Lescaut, Otello, Arabella and Capriccio.

Kiri Te Kanawa holds honorary doctorates from ten universities and is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music. Kiri was awarded the title of Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1982 and in 1990, she received the Order of Australia and in the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours List, the prestigious Order of New Zealand.

Dame Kiri continues to perform in opera houses and at concert engagements all over the world.