National | Arts

Opera masterclass with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

22 students from the New Zealand Opera School in Whanganui have been specially selected to take part in a masterclass with one of the world's most famous opera singers, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

The internationally-celebrated singer says it's a great reward and very satisfying to be able to help aspiring young New Zealand opera singers.

It's an overwhelming honour for these students to be in the presence of one of our most famous artists, Kiri Te Kanawa.

"I'm trying to help these young people. If they do decide to go and have a career like this, it's got to be really worthwhile and they want to put up with all the sacrifices of work and everything to do with it," says Dame Kiri.

Nurturing these young opera students is very satisfying for Dame Kiri, she enjoys being able to help.

She says, "It's a great reward.  It's almost better than my own career because I know all the bumps I've gone throug - they're going to have to go through."

22 students had the privilege of being chosen to take part in this special programme with the Opera School.

Elise Hemara says it's the greatest opportunity for all the students involved, "To be with (Dame) Kiri and to see her in action, it is inspiring and especially because she is Māori and I'm Māori as well.  Seeing her taking that step and going overseas and as a young Māori woman, I hope to do as well."

"It's all about having the voice but you also need the technique, the look, the language.  So many things that make up a career like hers that has lasted 50 years," says Filipe Manu.

Lila Alexander explains, "She gives us really sincere feedback about what she feels about our performances and she cuts to the core of what's going on to make us improve as performers."

Dame Kiri says, "It's not an overnight wonder.  It's not a Britain's Got Talent, New Zealand's Got Talent, Xfactor - it's nothing like that.  You can get some of those performances out of it but it's not a long term career.  You want to be able to go like I've had, 50 years of a career."

If you truly dream of becoming an opera singer, this is what Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has to say, "We are not looking for ordinary, it has to be exceptional because unfortunately in the real world that is all they are wanting."