Page last updated at 00:14 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to get Classical Brit honour

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa performs with the BBC Symphony Orchestra
Dame Kiri sang at the 75th anniversary of the BBC's Maida Vale Studios.

Opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is to be presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Classical Brits, it has been announced.

The New Zealand-born soprano joins a list of past recipients which includes Plácido Domingo and Jose Carreras, and will perform live on the night.

Dame Kira said she was "honoured and delighted" to be given the award.

The 11th annual Classical Brits will take place at the Royal Albert Hall on 13 May.

Mark Wilkinson from the Classical Brit Awards committee said, "It is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest sopranos of our times who has befriended British audiences and helped to nurture new singing talent for so many years".

Dame Kiri added, "I am very honoured and delighted to receive this award and look forward to being at the Royal Albert Hall this May."

Global audience

The singer was born into a Maori background in 1944 and adopted by a couple in the Gisborne region of New Zealand, who called her Kiri, the Maori word for Bell.

In 1966, she was given a government grant to enable her to train at the London Opera Centre, and five years later she landed her first major role as the Countess in a production of Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro at Covent Garden.

She is probably best-known for singing Handel's Let The Bright Seraphim at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981 - a performance watched by an estimated worldwide audience of 600 million.

She was made a dame in 1982, and reached a global audience again in the 1990s at the debut of Sir Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio.

Earlier this year, Dame Kiri launched a nationwide search for an opera star of the future.

The winner of the BBC Radio 2 Kiri Prize will get the chance to perform with her at Radio 2's Proms In The Park in September.

Klass act

Full nominations for the Classical Brits will be announced on 12 April.

The awards, which will be broadcast on ITV1, are to be presented by Myleene Klass.

Dutch violinist Andre Rieu will also perform at the live show.

His album, Forever Vienna, has made just made history as the highest charting classical album of the century, after rising to number two on Sunday.

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