Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Age 70, to Retire from Opera Stage After Donizetti/Puccini at Covent Garden (Or So She Says)
Kiri Te Kanawa has said in a British television interview that she will retire from the opera stage. She's currently giving a cameo as the Duchess of Crackentorp in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment at Covent Garden--and the staging has been massaged to give her an aria (from Puccini's Edgar, since you ask, as the Duchess is written as a speaking role). And that, she expects, will be it as far as the opera stage goes.
It's fair enough. The great dame is entering her seventies, and she has never possessed the kind of voice that would lend itself to the traditional later-life roles for sopranos and mezzos. You know, the character parts like the Countess in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, the witch in Hansel and Gretel or the scary mums in the Janáček operas. Te Kanawa's instrument, magnificent in its day, has always been silk-smooth, velvet-soft, and that kind of unrumpled beauty doesn't lend itself easily to the grumpy old women parts.
So, let Te Kanawa gracefully retain and explore the concert repertoire that still suits her, and perhaps some that she has yet to discover. Felicity Lott has trodden this path recently with dignity (Lott's next recording is of Clara Schumann songs on Telarc, off her previously beaten path--it would be lovely to see what Kiri could find in art songs, an area she has never really immersed herself in).
Whatever the immediate future holds for Te Kanawa (aside from more Downton Abbey episodes), we wish her the best of fortune and some special musical experiences still to come!
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