Classical Music with William Price King – Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – Part Three


classical musicWelcome to the final part of the series on the music of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.. I hope that you have enjoyed this taste of both her life and work, and that you will enjoy her singing for many more years to come.

Kiri Te Kanawa is retired from performing in opera but still gives virtuoso performances of both classical and contemporary music that we can all enjoy. Today William Price King will take us through some of the highlights of the last 20 years of her formal career and also a look at some of her passions off stage.

classic-kiri

There are almost 120 albums featuring Kiri Te Kanawa and in the 1980s and 90s she released a great many recordings of both classical and popular music.

A wonderful project resulted in both an album and a documentary when the great Leonard Bernstein decided to re-record West Side Story… This was a very personal project as he conducted her own music for the first time. Of course it was wonderful casting to bring Kiri Te Kanawa into the role of Maria, and to continue this more operatic theme to the musical, José Carreras was cast as Tony. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Cast Show Album in 1985 and here is an excerpt from the exceptional documentary of the rehearsals.

This is one of the finest versions of West Side Story, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, ever. It is certainly on par with the original Broadway version. It’s always a big gamble to place opera singers in the roles of Broadway singers, but this one works to perfection as you will hear with Jose Carreras as Tony, and Kiri Te Kanawa as Maria. It is a privilege to see these great artists at work and especially to hear Kiri Te Kanawa deliver a sublime performance under the baton of Leonard Bernstein. It’s magic!

Following the success of this more operatic approach to the popular musicals, Kiri performed again alongside José Carreras and American jazz singer Sarah Vaughan in the recording of the musical South Pacific (music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II). Here is This is How it Feels in rehearsal with a few words from José Carreras about the adjustments he made to his operatic voice to reflect the lighter musical theme.

There were some other noteable recordings released in the next 15 years including
Other recordings include, Blue Skies (1986); Kiri Sings Gershwin (1987): Italian Opera Arias (1991); Our Christmas Songs For You (1996); and The Ultimate Christmas Album (1996) with Luciano Pavarotti, Leontyne Price and Dame Joan Sutherland.

61k3qcjavzl-_ss500This album included both classical and more contemporary Christmas music such as Mendelssohn’s Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland.

Here is a review by one of the fans of the album.

The Title Is No Lie By R. Mixon December 25, 2006

I probably own too many Christmas CDs.

Many of them, though good, are indistinguishable from one another. But ‘The Ultimate Christmas Album’, a compilation of holiday recordings culled from London’s vaults, has set itself apart. It has been my most-played Christmas CD for several years now.The recordings are unparalleled; the Bach Choir’s vigorous “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (complete with thunderous pipe organ), Pavarotti’s tender “Ave Maria” and “O Holy Night”, Leontyne Price’s spritely “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and wistful “Silent Night”, the crystaline children’s voices in the Choir of Trinity School’s reading of “The First Nowell”–every selection on this CD could stand alone as a highlight.

For those of you who prefer your Christmas music with a classical bent, this is the CD you’ve been looking for. The selections are brilliantly chosen, recorded and programmed. I cannot recommend this any more-strongly. It is perfect.For once, you can believe the hype–this IS the ultimate Christmas album.

land-of-the-long-white-cloudAs a departure from music, Kiri Te Kanawa also wrote a Children’s book in 1989. Land of the Long White Cloud – Maori Myths, Tales and Legends. A collection of nineteen tales from various Maori tribes of New Zealand about the trickster Maui, the Creation, monsters, birds, animals, and special places.

Sadly Kiri and her husband Desmond Park divorced in the late 1990s. Although a very private person, the remarks that Kiri made at the time, reflect her belief that her career and the pressures and demands to remain at the top of a very difficult profession, played a part in the split. In the first post on her life we covered her early training with the nuns at school but it was only as an adult that she revealed the abuse that she suffered at the time.

The Whanganui Chronicle reported. “I am as tough as I am today because from age 12, when I was at a convent school in Auckland, I was beaten by the nuns.” “You have to be tough in the opera world or you are not going to make it. Just because you can sing an aria does not make you an opera singer.”

The world continued to delight in her performances through to her eventual retirement from the opera stage and she also received some further prestigious awards from her own country and around the world.

In the 1990 Australia Day Honours, Te Kanawa was appointed an Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia for services to the arts, particularly opera, and to the community. In the 1995 Queen’s Birthday Honours Te Kanawa was appointed to the Order of New Zealand.

There is no doubt about Kiri Te Kanawa’s love of New Zealand and in 1999 she released a new album, Maori Songs. She admits to seeking solace and rejuvenation in the lush, green north coastal region, where the ocean amiably wanders in and out of peaceful inlets. Ironically, the diva who made her mark singing the roles of royalty in elaborate costumes on ornate stages, is a self-described tomboy, who enthusiastically fishes, hikes, boats, plays golf and tennis, and even shoots clay pigeons

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa excels in this Maori song cycle. Her voice is excellent and she moves smoothly and effortlessly through these haunting melodies and creates an atmosphere which is quite soothing to the ear. She modulates her voice to the point that one would not believe that she is an opera singer and sings these New Zealand Maori lullabies in a creative and heartfelt way.

In recent years her appearances on stage have become infrequent, although she remains busy as a concert singer. She appeared in performances in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa in Monte Carlo (televised in 2001), with the Washington National Opera (2002), and the Los Angeles Opera in November/December 2004.

She sang in her last opera, Vanessa, in 2004, but continues with recitals and concerts and organizing the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, to help young music students.

The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation

Founded in 2004, Kiri Te Kanawa stated that here vision was “that talented young New Zealand singers and musicians with complete dedication to their art may receive judicious and thoughtful mentoring and support to assist them in realising their dreams.”

The foundation manages a trust fund to provide financial and career scholarships to young New Zealand singers and musicians. As part of its mission, the Foundation created scholarships at both the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. Kiri Te Kanawa takes a very active role in ensuring that her vision is realised. She conducts master classes and coaching sessions around the world and supported other musical institutions who shared her aims, such as the in the position of Patron for the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and her own BBC Radio 2 initiative to find gifted opera singers of the future.

In April 2010 she sang the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss in two performances at the Cologne Opera in Germany.

Also in 2010 Te Kanawa played the spoken part of The Duchess of Krakenthorp in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment at the Metropolitan Opera, and sang a tango. She repeated this role at the Met in a revival during the 2011–12 season, and repeated it again in Vienna in 2013 and at Covent Garden in March 2014 (a run that comprised her 70th birthday).
In 2013, Kiri Te Kanawa appeared in Downton Abbey playing Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian operatic soprano.

Buy the music of Kiri Te Kanawa: https://www.amazon.com/Dame-Kiri-Te-Kanawa/e/B000AQ0GZI

To end this short season on this beautiful and charasmatic singer one last peroformance and return to her classical roots. “Dove sono,” from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, as the Countess, very brilliantly laments her broken heart and her husband’s wandering affections in this aria,” Dove sono” in Act 3. This is quite challenging because this aria has long *legato phrases that require skilled breath control and great vocal technique. When sung well, this aria reveals all of the beautiful qualities and textures of the voice. Kiri Te Kanawa is exceptional in this role and her mellow tone and elegance are admirable.

*legato – sung or played in a smooth flowing manner, without breaks between notes.

Additional sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiri_Te_Kanawa

About William Price King

williampriceking

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

We hope you have enjoyed this look at the life and work so far of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.. Next week the last in the Classical Music series with the story of one of the first African Americans to become a leading performer at the Metropolitan Opera.

Classical Music with William Price King – Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – Part two – International Debuts


classical music

Last week we looked at the early life of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and today William will be looking at her international debuts.

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The professional life of an opera singer, particularly a soprano is demanding. Jazz, Pop and Country singers tend to be judged and measured on their latest single or album releases, which have taken months to compose and then record. They have been edited and enhanced in the studio to produce the best possible sound. With opera, a singer is judged on their last performance; by a very critical audience and also professional commentators. Every note has to be perfect and the performance flawless to meet the exacting standards of the conductor, other cast members, audience and critics. This is stressful enough at each performance, but also between roles, an opera singer must safeguard their voice at all costs.

This takes a toll on not just an artist’s professional life but also their personal one too. The demands for travel, living out of suitcases and infrequent visits home are the rarely appreciated cost of stardom. Over the years, Kiri Te Kanawa has made a number of comments about the world of opera.

Indeed, Te Kanawa describes opera, which requires not simply singing talent, but the ability to act and move in concert with all the other performers on the stage as, quite simply, “a mess.” She explains, “There’s the music. There’s the coaching. There’s the instruction. There’s the language. There’s the stage movements, the conductor, the agents, singing teachers, and everybody else.” It is, in her view, nothing short of “a circus.” Actually, Te Kanawa marvels, “You feel as though your brain is going to break.”

During her career there have been a number of criticisms of both her approach to learning her roles and also in comparisons with other sopranos who have played that particular role in the past. However, they are more than balanced with positive reviews and the loyalty of her millions of fans.

As we enter the 1970s, Kiri Te Kanawa is a rising star and word of her success is reaching across the world. In the July of 1971, John Crosby at the Santa Fe Opera then in its 15th season, cast Kiri in the role of the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro.

“The performance also featured Frederica von Stade in her debut as Cherubino. “It was two of the newcomers who left the audience dazzled: Frederica von Stade as Cherubino and Te Kanawa as the Countess. Everyone knew at once that these were brilliant finds. History has confirmed that first impression.”

Later that year in the December this performance was repeated at Covent Garden and the well-known critic of the Financial Times, Andrew Porter, proclaimed her “a new star.”

Over Kiri Te Kanawa’s career there were certain composer’s that she was most comfortable working with and these included Mozart, Verdi, and Strauss. She once described Strauss as “music that fits me like a glove, lyrical and passionate at the same time.” There is no doubt that her voice and range suits the more expansive style required by the Strauss roles.

“Im Abendrot”

In 1948, Richard Strauss, a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras, was failing in health. There was a new world order, he was old, and he felt tarnished by the tribulations of World War II and the appropriation of his music by the Third Reich. It was in this ambiance that he wrote his swan song – “Vier Letzte Lieder” (Four Last Songs). One can conclude that his acceptance of death and his search for inner peace led to this great composition which is a masterpiece. He died in 1949, at 84 years old. In this video, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings the last movement of this work –”Im Abendrot” (At Sunset).

Under the baton of Sir Georg Solti, with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Kiri Te Kanawa gives a sublime performance. Her voice soars, her phrasing is perfect, and the emotion is rich.

Kiri Te Kanawa’s voice is a lovely bright soprano, with great ease and beauty in the upper register. The wonderful legato phrasing and good technique have served her well in in many Mozart roles.

Exsultate, jubilate”

In this video Dame Kiri Te Kanawa triumphs in the opening aria of “Exsultate, jubilate.” This sacred music solo *motet was written by Mozart in 1773. Her voice has a young bell-like tone, and her impeccable *coloratura performance is mesmerizing. She hits the high note at the end with ease and perfection. A joyful experience.

*A motet is a vocal composition, accompanied or a cappella, based on a sacred Latin text.

* Coloratura refers to elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody.

Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly provided another outstanding role that showcased Kiri Te Kanawa’s stunning voice.

Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts composed by Puccini with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It is based on the short story Madame Butterfly written in 1898 by John Luther Long, based on the semi-autobiographical 1887 French novel, Madame Chrysantheme by Pierre Loti. This was dramatised by David Belasco as a one act play Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan which premiered in New York in 1900 and then moved to London where it was seen by Puccini.

“Un bel vedremo”

Kiri Te Kanawa is at her best in “Un bel di vedremo” from Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” directed by Sir John Pritchard with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Her voice is young, clear, rounded, and even from top to bottom,and quite effective in the way she expresses herself.

This beautiful aria, one of my favorites, suits her well, as you will hear in the video.

In 1974 Kiri was released by Covent Garden to understudy soprano Teresa Stratas performing as Desdemona in Verdi’s Othello at the New York’s Metropolitan Opera.. After attending the dress rehearsal and secure in the knowledge that Teresa Stratas would be performing on stage on the Saturday, Kiri decided to go shopping.. However, things were about to get a little more frantic and finally her agent tracked her down and told her to get to the opera house where she found the matinee about to begin.

Backstage the dressers frantically prepared Kiri for her unexpected debut not only on the stage of The Met, but on television across America. There was, she remembered, no time for nerves, only “all-out panic.” This one illustrious performance that made Kiri Te Kanawa an international sensation

There were further débuts in Paris and (1975), Sydney (1976), Milan (1978), Salzburg (1979) and Vienna (1980). In 1982 she gave her only stage performances as Tosca in Paris. In 1989 she added Elisabeth de Valois in Don Carlos to her repertory at Chicago, and in 1990 the Countess in Capriccio, sung first at San Francisco and with equal success at Covent Garden and Glyndebourne.

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours at the age of only 38 in 1982, Kiri Te Kanawa was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to opera.

Kiri Te Kanawa also won a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording in 1983, for Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro”. It was produced by Christopher Raeburn and the London Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Georg Solti.

Buy the music of Kiri Te Kanawa: https://www.amazon.com/Dame-Kiri-Te-Kanawa/e/B000AQ0GZI

Additional Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiri_Te_Kanawa

williampricekingAbout William Price King.

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

We hope you have enjoyed the first in the new series and would be grateful if you could share on social media. thanks Sally

Classical Music with William Price King – New Series next week – Dame Kiri te Kanawa


classical musicAfter our Christmas and New Year break we begin a new series next week featuring the phenomenal New Zealand soprano Dame Kiri te Kanawa. Singing professionally since 1968, she is mainly associated with the works of Mozart, Strauss, Verdi and Puccini. I first heard Kiri te Kanawa sing when I was in my early 20s and I never tire of hearing her voice.

Over the next three weeks William Price King will be taking us through her career and performances.  Here as a taster is Kiri te Kanawa at the Royal Variety performance with O Mio Babbino Caro from the opera Gianni Schicchi (1918), by Giacomo Puccini).

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

I hope you will join us next Wednesday for the start of the new series.  Thanks Sally