One of New Zealand's top opera singers is exiting the stage after 50 years of performing.

Dame Malvina Major has announced her retirement as a performer - now choosing to spend her time helping the next generation of singers, including Kiwi musical trio Sol3 Mio.

The 72-year-old, crowned New Zealand Entertainer of the Year back in 1992, said her days were now spent teaching at Waikato University and travelling overseas visiting top music institutions.

"My time is now devoted to the young people," she said on Newstalk ZB this morning.


Dame Malvina admitted moving from singing on stage to teaching was quite a shift.

"I absolutely adored my performing. I loved being an actress and I loved being in character in opera."

However, she had no regrets.

"I've been to some wonderful places and met some wonderful people," she said.

Some opera singers were born with the "x-factor" - something that cannot be taught, she said.

"That charisma, that voice, that extra something. You can't give it to anybody.

"There are some people that are born with it," she said.

Dame Malvina gushed about the three boys of Sol3 Mio, calling them "brilliant".


"They are very good entrepreneurs.

"They are really good at looking after each other and they are great at business planning really," she said.

She joked about "telling them off" at times.

"If you tell them off, as I do sometimes, they look at you like they have been really naughty boys," she laughed.

Dame Malvina was made a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008, which was changed in 2009 to Grand Dame of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

In 2012 she was appointed to the Order of New Zealand (ONZ).


She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award at the Women of Influence awards in 2014.

Dame Malvina also has honorary doctorates from both Waikato and Massey universities.