What an absolute pleasure to be lucky enough to hear Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's first-ever performance in Tauranga on Saturday night.
It felt surreal to head to the local theatre and hear the same voice that sung at the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Diana at St Paul's Cathedral. One of the world's most recognised sopranos gracing our Baycourt stage.
Appearing in a glittering white blouse and boldly-coloured skirt, she was captivating. Warm, entertaining, theatrical, with moments of humour and the audience enjoyed some surprisingly candid moments from the acclaimed singer.
Dame Kiri presented a programme of her favourite songs. Her partnership with Christchurch-born pianist Terence Dennis made for a winning duo. Dame Kiri lit up telling the story of late poet Emily Dickinson. In the Newer Every Day song cycle, she brought the poet's words to life. The theatrical performance of the five poems, as well as her humorous performance of Oliver Cromwell in Act II provided contrast and flair to the programme. Her rendition of the popular Scarborough Fair provoked applause after the first sentence.
There were tears for her final encore, Dance with my Father. A highlight was the incredibly delicate performance of MJ Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne and Bailero, bringing the auditorium to complete silence. To end the night, hearing her sing the emotionally-charged O mio babbino caro is an experience I will not forget.
Kudos to Baycourt manager Megan Peacock Coyle for making the once-in-a-lifetime experience possible and to Dame Kiri for an unforgettable evening.