Soprano singer Anna Leese, singing to her hometown Palmerston North audience for the last time on Sunday before heading for London, is focused on an operatic career - but she's playing down the Kiri Te Kanawa comparisons.

"I've heard it said of so many sopranos," the 22-year-old said yesterday.

"But I'm not taking it personally."

Leese said she had committed herself to an operatic career recently, and only on the strength of advice on the course of her music degree at the University of Otago.


"My preference pre-university was sacred music - I grew up with church choirs and singing in small, unaccompanied groups."

The advice that her voice had the power for opera came particularly after her Mobil Song Quest win last year.

When she won the coveted McDonald's Aria in Sydney two weeks ago, the all-Australian judging panel commented that the Leese voice was one of only two heard at the finals that had the "solid" qualities essential for opera.

Leese's contest wins, scholarships and sponsorships will take her two-thirds of the way through her three-year Royal College of Music course.

That was a firm future at this stage of her musical career, she said.