Kiri’s last stand

BBC Music Magazine - - LETTERS -

I was in­trigued by a phrase in your news piece on Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s re­tire­ment (Novem­ber), namely ‘She had pre­vi­ously waved good­bye to the opera stage – one speak­ing part not­with­stand­ing – …in 2010.’ I pre­sume this un­named role was the rel­a­tively mi­nor but es­sen­tial (to the plot) Duchesse de Crak­en­torp in Donizetti’s La fille du rég­i­ment. I at­tended a per­for­mance of this at the Vienna State Opera in Oc­to­ber 2013 with Dame Kiri in that role and will al­ways re­mem­ber it for two rea­sons. Firstly, as soon as Dame Kiri ap­peared on­stage in Act II, one highly ex­ited and clearly emo­tional voice cried out ‘Ki-ri’ (with the em­pha­sis on the se­cond syl­la­ble – he sounded Ital­ian!). The au­di­ence broke into laugh­ter be­fore the show could pro­ceed. And then, al­though this role is purely a spo­ken one, there is a tra­di­tion of in­ter­po­lat­ing a rel­a­tively brief vo­cal num­ber for the Duchesse when­ever the role is as­signed to a so­prano ap­proach­ing the end of her ca­reer, as was in­deed the case here. Al­though I have no idea what this piece was, it was a mem­o­rable mo­ment for any­one wish­ing to hear Dame Kiri as she ap­proached the end of her il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer. David J Rhodes, Water­ford, Ireland

Fin­ish­ing in style: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as the Duchesse de Crak­en­torp

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