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Dame Kiri Te Kanawa says she will never sing in public again

The world renowned Kiwi soprano retires from performing after a five-decade career.

One of New Zealand's greatest treasures, opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has announced her retirement.

Dame Kiri, 73, whose career has spanned five decades, has told the BBC that she will won't perform in public again.

She said her concert in Ballarat near Melbourne last October was when she decided to retire. "Before I'd gone on, I said, right, this it. And that was the end."

"I've had such an amazing career," the Gisborne-born soprano said.

She told the BBC it took her five years "to say the goodbye in my own mind", adding: "I've taken that time."

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa with Prince Charles, Kiri has had an illustrious career.
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa with Prince Charles, Kiri has had an illustrious career.

The soprano, who is close with the British Royal Family, has lived in England since 1966.

It was back in 1981, in front of an estimated TV audience of 600 million people, that Kiri performed Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim at the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

By this time, Kiri had already established herself as an international star – and a glittering career lay ahead.

“My life has been nothing but touring,” she told the Australian Women's Weekly NZ in 2013. “If I’m not here, I’m there. If I’m not there, I’m here, so it’s never been in one place.

Kiri met husband Desmond on a blind date in 1967. They married six weeks later, but the couple divorced in 1997.
Kiri met husband Desmond on a blind date in 1967. They married six weeks later, but the couple divorced in 1997.

“My career hasn’t slowed down as much as I thought it would. It’s always been about where the job comes up. My life has always been touring. It’s never been stable”

In 2013 she appeared on Downton Abbey in a cameo role as opera singer Nellie Melba.

Currently calling Sussex, England, her home, Kiri’s main focus will now be on mentoring singers through the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation.