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Kiri Te Kanawa (b1944)


Born Claire Mary Teresa Rawstron to a Maori father and Irish mother, Te Kanawa was adopted shortly after birth by Tom and Nell Te Kanawa, also of Maori and Irish extraction. Educated at St Mary’s College, Auckland, where she was taught singing by Sister Mary Leo, from her late teens onwards she was a popular singer in New Zealand, appearing frequently in the local media and making several recordings. Having begun as a mezzo she moved to singing as a soprano and in 1965 won the Mobil Song Quest, followed in 1966 by the Sun Aria Competition, which enabled her to enter the London Opera Centre in the same year. Here Te Kanawa studied until 1969 and was also a pupil of Vera Rósza. While still a student she sang Dido / Dido and Aeneas at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Idamante / Idomeneo in concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (both in 1968) and Elena / La donna del lago at the 1969 Camden Festival.

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