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Dame Kiri's Dresses Go On Display At Te Papa

Dame Kiri's Dresses Go On Display At Te Papa

A stunning exhibition showcasing the remarkable career of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa through a selection of her dresses opens at Te Papa next week. Kiri's Dresses - A glimpse into a Diva's wardrobe features sixteen dresses and supporting ephemera, such as scrapbooks and photographs. Dame Kiri has taken a personal interest in the exhibition, which captures significant memories and highlights of her career, described in her own words.

Included in the exhibition are her colourful dress and hat for the wedding of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Lady Diana Spencer, her costume from the title role in Puccini's Manon Lescaut at Covent Garden in 1983, and her gown from her performance for HM Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee at Buckingham Palace.

During the 1960s the young Kiri Te Kanawa won major singing competitions in New Zealand and Australia and quickly established herself as New Zealand's most popular lyric soprano. She travelled on to London and within five years, Dame Kiri had taken the world of opera by storm. Her international success began with her debut in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1971. Since then she has sung many of opera's finest arias to great acclaim.

The exhibition features the dress Dame Kiri wore for the title role in Puccini's Manon Lescaut at Covent Garden in 1983. The costume for this role is a perfect example of a period opera dress. Dame Kiri says, 'As a singer, I love the eighteenth century. What soprano wouldn't? I admire the elegance and the grand style of the era. I could lose myself in those costumes. You go into a fantasy world for a while, but the reality sets in when you've got to start singing.'

>From the early 1970s she branched out into performing on the concert stage. Since then she has balanced the two worlds of concert and opera. The exhibition features several dresses specially commissioned by Dame Kiri for her concert performances.

In 1990, Dame Kiri performed at three 'Homecoming' concerts throughout New Zealand. Some 300,000 people came to these outdoor events, taking operatic singing into an arena normally occupied by rock stars and pop music. The exhibition features the dresses worn at the Wellington and Christchurch concerts.

'We are delighted to have this opportunity to showcase Dame Kiri's collection, which she has generously presented to Te Papa on long-term loan,' said Dr Seddon Bennington, Chief Executive of Te Papa. 'We are very excited to also be able to display two beautiful opera costumes which have been loaned by the Royal Opera House Archives, Covent Garden, as these illustrate a significant part of Dame Kiri's career.'

TOWER Limited's Group Managing Director Keith Taylor added 'TOWER has long been committed to the Arts in New Zealand and as an iconic New Zealand company we are delighted to sponsor this glimpse into the life of one of our cultural icons.'

Dame Kiri has agreed to open the exhibition.

Kiri's Dresses - A glimpse into a Diva's wardrobe opens the public on Saturday 6 September in the South Gallery, Eyelights, Level 4. Entry is free.

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