Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ DBE AC, has had a highly successful international opera career since 1968.

Born in Gisborne, New Zealand in 1944, the Māori soprano is acclaimed as one of the most beloved sopranos in the world.

She possesses a warm full lyric soprano voice, singing a wide array of works in multiple languages from the 17th to the 20th centuries. She is particularly associated with the works of Mozart, Strauss, Verdi, Handel and Puccini.

Her voice has been described as “mellow yet vibrant, warm, ample and unforced”.

The sheer beauty of Te Kanawa’s voice made her one of the leading operatic sopranos internationally of the 1970s and 1980s. She found particular success in portraying princesses, noble countesses and other similar characters on stage, as her naturally dignified stage presence and physical beauty complemented these roles well.

Although she now only rarely sings in operas, Te Kanawa still frequently performs in concert and recital, while giving masterclasses and supporting young opera singers in launching their careers.

“I’m completely in charge of my own life now. Sometimes there’s no one there to slap me on the hand and say: ‘Stop being so bullish and bossy,’ and things like that.”

Photo: Tony Buckingham