The New Zealand opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa (March 6, 1944) is a well-known soprano of Maori ancestry. In 1981, she was seen and heard around the world by an estimated 600 million people when she sang Handel's "Let the Bright Seraphim" at the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.
Te Kanawa was born in Gisborne. She was adopted as an infant and little is known about her natural parents. She began her singing career as a mezzo-soprano but later developed into a soprano.
In her teens and early 20s, Te Kanawa was a popular entertainer in New Zealand. Her recording of the "Nuns' Chorus" from the Strauss's operetta Casanova was New Zealand's first-ever gold record.
In 1965, she won a singing competition and received a grant to study in London. In 1966, she enrolled at the London Opera Centre.
In 1971, Te Kanawa made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Countess Almaviva, in The Marriage of Figaro. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1974 as Desdemona.
In subseqent years, she performed at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera, Sydney Opera House, the Vienna State Opera, La Scala, San Francisco Opera, Munich and Cologne, adding the Mozart roles of Donna Elvira, Pamina, and Fiordiligi in addition to Italian roles such as Mimi in La Bohème. Te Kanawa has a particular affinity for the heroines of Richard Strauss: the Marschallin, the Countess in Capriccio, and the title role in Arabella
Te Kanawa still performs on the opera stage and in concert halls, but when in New Zealand unwinds at her holiday home in the Bay Of Islands.