Kiri Te Kanawa’s in Australia for a recital tour. On the eve of her Melbourne concert she talked to The Age.
On the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation and the Solti Te Kanawa Accademia di Bel Canto
‘[When I started] there was hardly any advice, no young people’s programs or summer schools, no one you could talk to, no one could give you anything; and, of course, there was no money.
”I thought I would let all this happen when I died, but someone said to me, ‘If you don’t do it now, it won’t have a life.’ So I’ve given it a life and it’s something I’m highly involved with – I mean, every single penny, I know where it’s coming from and where it’s gone.”
”I tell students if you are learning from YouTube I almost don’t want to teach you because what you learn from YouTube it takes 10 times as long to unlearn. They do an approximation of the centre of the note, an approximation of the interpretation, a cloned version.
”I’ve got a wonderful young Chinese tenor, and he’s learned everything from YouTube of José Carreras, and he sounds just like José – not José’s voice, but all the inflections, all the breaths, all the grunts and groans, and I’ve just had a firm word with him. I get so angry with it.”
On audio cassettes in the 70s
”You sat with the pianist, he plonked down all the notes and you went away and listened to it. That’s how I learned. I never had the influence of any other singer in my music, so I sounded like myself all the time.”
On stopping her opera career
”I think it’s time, it’s for young people. It’s a big strain to do it. You can do it up to a certain age but I’m taking life easy.”
On masterclasses and her foundation
”I say, while I’ve still got the energy I’ll do it, and when I haven’t got the energy I’ll go and sit under a palm tree and drink pina coladas. But that’s not now. ‘My energy is undiminished. Someone said to me the other day, ‘Are you retired?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m just trying to prove that I’m not.’ There’s so many things to do.”