Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, one of opera’s most celebrated stars, has told the BBC that she will never sing in public again.
Dame Kiri, 73 years old, said that she stopped performing a year ago, but had not announced his retirement until now.
“I don’t want to hear my voice,” said the soprano, whose career has spanned more than half a century.
“It is in the past. When I teach the young singers and hearing young and beautiful, fresh voices, I don’t want to put my voice alongside them.”
Dame Kiri has appeared in all of the world’s major opera houses and concert halls. She made her name in 1971 when it was chosen as the Countess in The marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden. At the time she was barely known.
“I’ve had an incredible career,” the new Zealander said. But she was adamant that she wanted to decide “when going to be the last note”.
However, she admitted that it took him five years “to say goodbye in my own mind”, adding: “I have taken this time.”
What turned out to be his last performance was at a concert in Ballarat, near Melbourne, in Australia last October. “Before I had gone, I said, to the right, this is it. And that was the end.”
Dame Kiri said she had no regrets and do not miss the singing. She said: “Look what I had. The memories are precious.”
She has certainly achieved a level of fame rare for a classic performer. Six hundred million people heard her sing Let the Bright Seraphim by Handel at the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981.
“I said two or three months before, you are going to sing this song,” he revealed. “Can you imagine holding that inside you for months and months, not being able to mention to anyone?”
But after the death of the Princess of Wales in 1997, she never sang again. “I never wanted to,” he said. “When he died, I felt that I should put that song forever.”
She has not yet listened to the piece again since then. “In a kind of respect for her, and the death and everything was a terrible thing that I never wanted to hear again.”
Dame Kiri was also the first singer to perform the Rugby World Cup anthem World in Union in 1991. His other career highlights include a guest on ITV of Downton Abbey in 2013.
His focus now, he said, was the formation of what she calls the future stars of the opera through his own Foundation.
And she is honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Gramophone Classical Music Awards. “It’s very, very special,” he said.
However, she thinks that it is “self-indulgent” to live in the past.
And she insisted that when she did reflect on her career, she never felt completely satisfied. “I never really reached the perfection of 100% that I would have liked.
“I actually never left the stage of saying, ‘I’ve really nailed it.’ Never. I always thought there was an error in it.
“I was constantly analyzing throughout the performance of what he had done.”
But, he added with a wry smile: “I did keep trying.”
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