Shortly after I returned to Maui in mid-August 2011, I checked out the classical music scene here. It was bare — or I should say “nil” compared to what I have been accustomed to in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and London. However, one name stood out.
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
I had to take a second look. The legendary soprano from New Zealand? Dame Kiri who sang at Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding? The most beloved soprano in Britain?
Having lived in London for most of my adult life, I had heard of Dame Kiri long before I started going to operas and definitely long before I began writing concert reviews. I loved that I knew how to pronounce her name from years of listening to Classic FM Radio. She was one of those beautiful megastars that I never imagined my luck being in the same room with, let alone the same island.
In Maui, where classical music concerts are few and far between, everyone who loves classical music flock to the only show in town. And Dame Kiri’s is, literally, one night only.
Last weekend, I mentioned to a 30-year Maui resident, “I’m going to miss Dame Kiri’s concert.” To my surprise, he responded with “Who is she?”
I had to count to five before answering. While she may be a household name in London, she’s virtually unknown to surfers and those outside of the classical music scene.
“If you have never been to opera or an art song recital or a classical concert of any sort, and you don’t know anything about opera, art song, or classical music, you would seriously regret not going to see Dame Kiri in concert if you had the chance. She’s coming to Maui to give a concert — that’s just incredible. Amazing!”
As last weekend passed, I mentally registered that I had missed the chance to see her. Today, I learned that I had gotten my dates wrong. She will give a concert in Oahu on 29th September and then fly to Maui to perform at the Maui Arts and Culture Centre (MACC) on Saturday 1st October 2011. The MACC on Maui is equivalent to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the South Bank Centre in London with its suite of three concert halls. The announcement on Hawaii Public Radio mentioned that these will be her first performances in Hawaii.
For those who have not heard of Dame Kiri — just google her. Watch youtube videos of her performances of her opera roles as the Countess in the Marriage of Figaro, Pamina in the Magic Flute, and as Tosca, to name a few. She has turned full circle from her teenage years in pop music in New Zealand to opera roles in London to art songs, expanding to broadway and beyond. Here’s a nice video of a rehearsal of Kiri with Andre Previn and others. Watch her TV interview in London and another on the challenges of being an opera singer. Watch Dame Kiri’s moving performance of “Ach Ich Fuhl” when she received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement in Music awarded at the Classic BRIT Awards 2010.
On Saturday 1st October 2011 at 7:30 pm at the Castle Theatre of the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Dame Kiri and accompanist Terence Dennis will perform selections from composers Mozart, Vivaldi, Handel and Puccini opera as well as art songs from France and Germany, and folk songs from England and South America. I am very curious what those selections will be. In my next blog post, I shall postulate.