6 Mar 2014

Absolutely no to retiring fully: Dame Kiri

12:08 pm on 6 March 2014

One of the world's best-known opera singers, New Zealand's Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, says reports of her retirement from singing have been greatly exaggerated.

But the curtain is coming down on her operatic career. Dame Kiri, who turned 70 on Thursday, says her current cameo in the comic opera, La Fille du Regiment, in London will be her last, although she will continue to sing in other productions.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa - no intention of retiring.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa - no intention of retiring. Photo: AFP

The lyric soprano says her age and knees are dictating her retirement from opera. .

As to full retirement, she told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme while other people say she's retiring, the word isn't even in her vocabulary.

"One door closes and another door opens but as to retiring, I've never ever had that word in my vocabulary. Only thing is that other people have got it in their vocabulary because they can't think of anything else to say."

Dame Kiri says she will be performing again in New Zealand in a recital in May and it's now time to do what she enjoys BUT whether her retirement from operatic productions is permanent depends on how she feels.

First Convent Garden role 1970

Of Maori and Irish descent, the former Claire Mary Teresa Rawstron first sang at Covent Garden in London 44 years ago.

Her first big success was as the Countess in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro in 1971, and her debut three years later at New York's Metropolitan Opera as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello was also widely acclaimed.

In 1981 she sang at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer -- her rendering of Handel's "Let the Bright Seraphim"" reaching a television audience of more than 600 million.

In 2004, she formed the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation whose mission it is to provide support and financial aid to young New Zealand singers.