New Zealand's greatest international opera star, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, will arrive in Whanganui on Wednesday, January 13, to join the final week of the New Zealand Opera School at Wanganui Collegiate School.

This is the first time Dame Kiri has attended the opera school, now in its 22nd year.

School chairman and founder Donald Trott said it was a great privilege to have Dame Kiri at the school for four days.

"It's a real coup and we're very proud indeed. We are delighted to be hosting Dame Kiri; she is an inspiration to so many singers throughout the world."

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The iconic acclaimed singer and one of the world's leading tutors will take a masterclass with all 22 students.

The masterclasses with Dame Kiri are a first for the school.

School director Jonathan Alver says all their Christmases had come at once for these students.

"Little did they know when they auditioned that they would be able to meet and learn from one of the world's legendary opera stars. They are rapt."

Dame Kiri will also appear in a ticketed public In Conversation event on Friday, January 15, as part of the celebrated Opera Week.

The New Zealand Opera School provides the country's most intensive training for emerging opera singers, with tuition and coaching in voice, language and movement, and public performance opportunities over two weeks in Whanganui city every January.

Mr Alver said the school was widely recognised as a significant "career nursery" for aspiring young performers.

The Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation financially supports the school by bringing in internationally distinguished overseas tutors.

This year's New Zealand Opera emerging artists in the Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists programme are sopranos Madison Nonona from Hamilton and Katherine Mcindoe from Wellington.

The two sopranos arrive in Whanganui today for the school together with the 20 other young singers chosen from throughout the country for New Zealand's only intensive residential opera school.

Madison, of Samoan and European descent, is completing a diploma in French and German and a diploma in classical voice, specialising in opera studies under Dame Malvina Major at Waikato University.

Katherine has completed an honours degree in classical voice, studying under Richard Greager and Jenny Wollerman at Victoria University.

The two will perform at the opera school's lunchtime concert at Heritage House in St Hill St on Wednesday, January 6 at midday.