Accessibility links

|

Sign In
Basket
Basket

Kiri Te Kanawa

Soprano

Biography

Kiri Te Kanawa in action.
Kiri Te Kanawa in La Fille du régiment, The Royal Opera © ROH/Catherine Ashmore, 2014

New Zealander soprano Kiri Te Kanawa made her Royal Opera debut in 1971 as a Flowermaiden (Parsifal) and returned later that year to make a sensational role debut as Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro). She has since sung many times with the Company, her roles including Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Violetta Valéry (La traviata), Amelia Grimaldi (Simon Boccanegra), Desdemona (Otello), the title role in Manon Lescaut, Mimì (La bohème), Micaëla (Carmen), Marguerite (Faust), Tatyana (Eugene Onegin), the Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier), Arabella and Countess Madeleine (Capriccio). In 2014 she celebrated her 70th birthday with The Royal Opera in performances as La Duchesse de Crackentorp (La Fille du régiment).

Te Kanawa was born in Gisborne. She was educated at Saint Mary’s College, Auckland, and began her singing training there as a mezzo-soprano. She won the Mobil Song Quest and the Melbourne Sun-Aria contest and enrolled at the National Opera Studio, where she received classical training as a soprano. Her Royal Opera performance as Countess Almaviva launched her international career as one of the greatest lyric sopranos of her generation. In addition to performing lead roles in all of the major opera houses she has appeared in concert with the world’s leading conductors and orchestras and has an extensive discography.

Te Kanawa has received numerous awards and accolades, including honorary doctorates from more than ten universities, the Order of Australia, the Order of New Zealand and a DBE. She founded the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, which provides financial and career scholarships to young New Zealand singers and musicians. She became Patron of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World (2011), returning in 2013. In autumn 2013 she made a guest appearance on the television series ‘Downton Abbey’ as Dame Nellie Melba.

Videos

News and features

BBC celebrates the classical voice with three weeks of special programming

BBC celebrates the classical voice with three weeks of special programming

18 June 2015

The season runs until 4 July 2015 and includes a four-part series presented by Antonio Pappano, the finals of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and a broadcast of WNO’s Peter Pan.

Watch: John Copley on La bohème - ‘It was the first proper opera I’d seen and I cried all the way home on the bus’

Watch: John Copley on La bohème - ‘It was the first proper opera I’d seen and I cried all the way home on the bus’

10 June 2015

The director recalls his first moment with Puccini’s opera and his thoughts on this last revival.

ROH Collections Item of the Month: Donald Southern’s starry photographs of <em>La bohème</em>

ROH Collections Item of the Month: Donald Southern’s starry photographs of La bohème

15 May 2015

Over 41 years, all the greats – including Plácido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa and Luciano Pavarotti – have performed in John Copley’s classic production.

Photos

Kiri Te Kanawa celebrates her 70th birthday after a performance of La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa celebrates her 70th birthday after a performance of La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa and Peter Glossop in Simon Boccanegra

Thomas Allen and Kiri Te Kanawa in Manon Lescaut

Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa celebrates her 70th birthday after a performance of La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa and Gillian Knight in Eugene Onegin

Kiri Te Kanawa in Arabella

Ewa Podles as La Marquise de Berkenfeld and Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa in Downton Abbey

Stuart Burrows and Kiri Te Kanawa in La traviata

Kiri Te Kanawa in Manon Lescaut

Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Ewa Podles as La Marquise de Berkenfeld and Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa

Sir Thomas Allen as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte (1979)

Kiri Te Kanawa celebrates her 70th birthday after a performance of La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni

Kiri Te Kanawa and Placido Domingo in Manon Lescaut

Kiri Te Kanawa in Der Rosenkavalier

Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp and Juan Diego Flórez as Tonio in La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo and Kiri Te Kanawa as Mimì in La bohème, The Royal Opera, 1976

Kiri Te Kanawa as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in La Fille du régiment

Kiri Te Kanawa in La Fille du régiment, The Royal Opera