Kiri Te Kanawa (Kiri Te Kanawa) |

Kiri Te Kanawa (Kiri Te Kanawa) |

Skin The Kanawa

Date of birth
Voice type
baritone, soprano
UK, New Zealand

Kiri Te Kanawa (Kiri Te Kanawa) |

Kiri Te Kanawa took her rightful place among the stars of the world opera scene almost immediately after her sensational debut at Covent Garden (1971). Today, this singer is rightly called one of the brightest sopranos of the century. Her extraordinary voice and extensive repertoire, covering the music of different centuries and European schools, attracted the attention of the great conductors of our time – Claudio Abbado, Sir Colin Davis, Charles Duthoit, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Georg Solti.

Kiri Te Kanawa was born March 6, 1944 in Gisborne on the East Coast of New Zealand. A little girl with Maori blood in her veins was adopted by an Irish mother and a Maori. Her adoptive father, Tom Te Kanawa, named her Kiri after his father (meaning “bell” in Maori, among others). Kiri Te Kanawa’s real name is Claire Mary Teresa Rawstron.

Interestingly, Kiri Te Kanawa started out as a mezzo-soprano and sang the mezzo repertoire until 1971. International fame was brought to her by the roles of Xenia in Boris Godunov by M. Mussorgsky and the Countess in V.A. Mozart. In addition to successful performances at Covent Garden, Kiri made a brilliant debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Desdemona (Otello by G. Verdi).

The diversity of Kiri Te Kanawa’s musical interests deserves special attention: in addition to operas and classical songs (by French, German and British composers), she has recorded several discs of popular songs by Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, as well as Christmas songs. In the 1990s she showed interest in Maori national art and recorded a disc of Maori folk songs (Maori Songs, EMI Classic, 1999).

Kiri Te Kanawa prefers to limit his operatic repertoire. “My operatic repertoire is not very large. I prefer to stop at a few parts and learn them as well as possible. Italian opera, for example, I sang very little. Basically, Desdemona (“Othello”) and Amelia (“Simon Boccanegra”) G. Verdi. I sang Manon Lescaut Puccini only once, but I recorded this part. Basically, I sing W. Mozart and R. Strauss,” says Kiri Te Kanawa.

Winner of two Grammy awards (1983 for Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, 1985 for L. Bernstein’s Wet Side Story), Kiri Te Kanawa holds honorary degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, Chicago and many other universities. In 1982, Queen Elizabeth presented her with the Order of the British Empire (from that moment on, Kiri Te Kanawa received the prefix Dame, similar to Sir, that is, she became known as Lady Kiri Te Kanawa). In 1990, the singer was awarded the Order of Australia, and in 1995, the Order of New Zealand.

Kiri Te Kanawa does not like to discuss his personal life. In 1967, Kiri married Australian engineer Desmond Park, whom she met “blindly”. The couple adopted two children, Antonia and Thomas (in 1976 and 1979). In 1997, the couple divorced.

Kiri Te Kanawa is a great swimmer and golfer, loves to water ski, cooks almost as skillfully as she sings. Kiri loves animals and has always had many dogs and cats. The singer is a big fan of rugby, enjoys fishing and shooting. Her latest hobby made a big splash in Scotland last fall when she came to hunt at the invitation of the owner of one of the local castles. Staying at the hotel, she asked the receptionist to show her a room for storing weapons in order to leave them for the night, which terribly frightened the respectable Scots, who hurried to call the police. The law enforcement officers quickly found out what was the matter, and kindly took the prima donna’s guns to the station for storage.

For a while, Kiri Te Kanawa said she would retire from the stage at 60. “I guess when I decide to leave, I won’t warn anyone. For those who want to attend my last concert, it’s better to hurry, because any concert may be the last.”

Nikolai Polezhaev

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