Today is the birthday of New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, who was born on this day in Gisborne, New Zealand in 1944. Of Maori and European parentage, Te Kanawa was adopted as a baby by a Maori family. She sang pop songs very early in her career before entering the London Opera Centre in 1966 to study with Vera Rozsa, who trained many well known singers in her long career, including Mattila, Cotrubas, von Otter, Roschmann, as well as Canadian bass-baritone Nathan Berg. Te Kanawa’s voice in its prime has exceptional beauty of tone, exemplary legato, and an ethereal quality that has served her well in her long career (from 1968 until semi-retirement today.) Te Kanawa is no stranger to Canada, particularly Toronto, where she has sung something like a dozen times in concerts and recitals. She was one of the first to sing in Roy Thomson Hall when it opened in 1982. Here is Kiri at her best – singing the Cantilena from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 by Heitor Villa-Lobos, whose birthday was yesterday! Enjoy!
Joseph K. So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, but his first love is music, which he studied as an undergraduate student at the State University of New York. Since seeing his first live opera – La Gioconda with Renata Tebaldi at the Met in 1967, the singing voice became his lifelong favourite instrument. In addition to his longtime contributions to La Scena Musicale and The Music Scene, he is Associate Editor of Opera Canada and a frequent contributor to Musical Toronto.