After nearly six months of anticipation, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa arrived in Oamaru on 26 March in preparation of her performance at the Oamaru Opera House the following evening. In case you’re not familiar with Dame Kiri, she has been one of the leading lights of the opera world since the 1970s, reaching many millions of homes when she was asked to perform at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in Westminster Cathedral. Born in Gisborne on New Zealand’s North Island, Dame Kiri has performed in all the world’s major theatre, and is beloved by her fans for the purity of her voice and the quality of her acting.
Living between New Zealand and the UK, Dame Kiri (she was given the title in 1982 for services to opera) continues to perform all over the world, and several years ago, when she heard of the renovations to the Oamaru Opera House, she began to make plans to perform here. When the concert was announced late in 2012, the tickets sold out in record time, with people coming from far and wide to hear the popular singer live in this beautiful theatre.
The concert comprised works from the operatic repertoire as well as popular songs, and ended with three encores, including the incomparable “O mio babbino caro” that Dame Kiri sang in the film “A Room with a View”. During an interview with the Oamaru Mail after the performance, Dame Kiri praised the audience and the quality of the venue, calling it a “gem” and expressing a wish to return to Oamaru in the future. It’s fair to say that Oamaru would welcome her back with open arms!