A Magical Night with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa


There is a magical rush when an audience and a performer are in perfect sync.  And the magic was in abundance on Sunday afternoon at Segerstrom Hall when legendary soprano, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa came to the OC.


Kiri Te Kanawa was born in New Zealand and traces her lineage to Maori aristocracy.  She had garnered kudos throughout the South Pacific and embarked on a successful recording career when she came to the attention of Sir Colin Davis.  Her debut as the Countess in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1971 catapulted her to the ranks of international opera and that unique tier of reigning sopranos.  Dame Kiri is a familiar figure in the high profile opera houses of the world, including Covent Garden, the Metropolitan, La Scala and the Sydney Opera House.  Her lyric soprano heroines cover an impressive range from Arabella to Violetta. She has enhanced the concert stage with her lyrical brilliance and has joined with the world's major orchestral ensembles including the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the London Symphony. Dame Kiri's recording profile reflects the diverse nature of her artistry and includes selections from opera canon, albums of American popular songs, Gershwin, Porter and three classics from musical theatre. However impressive this litany of accomplishments is though, it pales in comparison to the emotional bond between the soprano and her audience.  And that was evident on Sunday afternoon.

Dame Kiri was joined by pianist, Warren Jones, who frequently  appears with high profile artists.  Jones is an extremely gifted musician, conductor and mentor and seamlessly blended his performance with the lyrical nuances of one of the world's outstanding sopranos.  The rapport between Mr. Jones and Dame Kiri was evident and effective.  The opening selections from Handel and Vivaldi were but a prelude to the exquisite interpretation of Debussy' s Romance, Hahn's A Chloris and Faure's Apres un Reve.  Selections from Strauss and Berlioz wrapped around the intermission and lead to a charming and humorous approach to Poulenc's Hotel.  It is doubtful that in the future any member of the audience will hear that selection without thinking of chocolate!  The soaring conclusion, focusing on Puccini's Morire? and Sole e amore (from Mattinata,) brought the entire audience to its feet in an immediate standing ovation.  The enthusiasm, appreciation and joie de vivre was palpable.  Two encores, including a Maori song from her millennium tribute to her heritage and homeland, were not enough for an audience swept away by the magic of the afternoon.

The 2004-2005 Voices in Song Series is presented in partnership with Opera Pacific and supported by K-Mozart, 105.1.  Anne Sofie Von Otter, the Swedish mezzo-soprano will be appearing on December 14, 2004.  Check the Orange County Performing Arts Center web site for further information about this series and details about the Opera Pacific season.

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