Opera for Lovers

By Kiri Te Kanawa and Conrad Wilson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I found this book fascinating.

The ghost writer (Conrad Wilson) used a light hand & Te Kanawa’s voice shone through.

Dame Kiri touches on her family life. She absolutely adored the father who adopted her – who also adored her! She also loved her adopted mother but found her a bit needy! (wanting letters from her daughter – the nerve!) She was divorced a year after this book was written, so this as well as her obvious belief that her personal life was her own business, explains the brief writing about a husband she had obviously loved very much. While grateful for Dame Mary Leo’s fostering of her musical talent she also is candid that this was at the expense of her education as she was often removed from class at St Mary’s College in Auckland.

It is her reflections on the Operas she excelled in & why she chose them that was so interesting as also her reflections on what may seem like more trivial matters like how costumes can impede a singers ability to move around the stage. Her praise of often lavish, her criticisms generally “of a … who shall remain nameless.”

She recounts an episode of what would now be considered sexual harassment by an unnamed male singer while they were on stagewith annoyance but doesn’t dwell on it.

She writes at far more length about the operas she is associated with, conductors she admired, the pros & cons of appearing at various opera houses. & her grateful thanks to Convent Garden for giving her her start.

A very strong woman who has succeeded because of a strong work ethic (which she freely admits did not come naturally to her) and a truly beautiful voice and presence.

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