Al fresco lunch up the hill for Dame Kiri

“NOT everyone gets a chance like this,” the opera-loving Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop enthused earlier today, as she hosted al fresco lunch for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at Parliament House.

Not only had it been a “great honour” to have Dame Kiri in her offices ‘for a chat’ just before the lunch, she said, but as an opera buff who appreciated the evergreen opera singer’s “glorious voice,” it had given her pause to reflect that the diva chose to perform not just classics, but works by contemporary composers.

“We do need our composers,” the Speaker said in thanking her guest.

At a relaxed event where Dame Kiri chatted to the media about her recent experience playing Dame Nellie Melba in “Downton Abbey,” the Sydney-based entrepreneur of her 70th birthday gala tour, Baz Archer, told “CityNews” that there were still a few seats available for Dame Kiri’s recital tomorrow night at Llewellyn Hall.

One of the most-loved divas on the operatic stage, she had given Archer no hints of any impending retirement and had appeared to packed houses in Perth and Melbourne, including one concert on Mother’s Day.

In tomorrow’s recital, audiences can expect to hear arias by Handel, Puccini and Mozart, delicate art songs and even folk songs like “Scarborough Fair” and “Danny Boy,” although Dame Kiri told “CityNews” that she reserves the right to change the program as she goes, to give it additional variety.

Some members of the press rushed to the doors to file stories, while others from interstate less jaded by the culture of Parliament House, followed Dame Kiri into question time where the Speaker introduced her to the assembled house.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa 70th birthday national recital tour, at Llewellyn Hall, Friday May 16 at 7:30 PM, bookings to or 132 849.

[Photos by Gary Schafer]

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