Kiri Te Kanawa

Voice/Instrument: Soprano


Dame Kiri Janette Te Kanawa, ONZ, DBE, AC (pronounced /ˈkɪri tɨˈkɑːnəwə/; born 6 March 1944, Gisborne, New Zealand) is a New Zealand soprano who had a highly successful international opera career between 1968–2004. Possessing a warm full lyric soprano voice, Te Kanawa sang a wide repertoire that encompassed works from the 17th to the 20th century in Italian, French, German, Russian, and English. She particularly excelled in the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi, George Friderich Handel and Giacomo Puccini.

Te Kanawa's voice has a vibrant but mellow quality that is ample in size without being overly heavy or forced. Although music critics have consistently praised the freshness and warmth of her voice, she has been at times criticised for her interpretations; with some critics feeling her performances lack vibrance, animation, and original expression. Nevertheless, 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 only rarely singing in operas, Te Kanawa still frequently performs in concert and recital, while giving masterclasses and supporting young opera singers to launch their careers. In August 2009, the Daily Telegraph reported Te Kanawa is retiring because the discipline is exhausting. It said her last opera performance would be at the Cologne Opera in Germany in April 2010, when she plays the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss. However, Te Kanawa denied this the following month when interviewed in Sydney, saying "The press might have announced it. I didn't say a thing. I don't know why they're trying to retire me. I'm not retiring."

Show more...


Composers' compositions