Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 16:48 UK

Dame Kiri 'to retire from opera'

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
Dame Kiri was last seen on the opera stage in 2004

Soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is to retire from the opera, after a career spanning four decades.

The 65-year-old told the Daily Telegraph she is saying goodbye to the operatic stage because the discipline is "exhausting".

Her last opera performance will be at the Cologne Opera, in Germany, in April 2010, when she plays the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss.

However, Dame Kiri said she did not plan to give up singing completely.

She said she was still "extremely busy" and would continue to tour, perform recitals, and teach.

Famous figure

The New Zealand-born star has been winding down her opera appearances in recent years.

She last sang opera in Samuel Barber's Vanessa, at the Los Angeles Opera, in 2004.

Before her final performance in April, Dame Kiri will also appear in the New York Metropolitan Opera's production of Donizetti's La Fille Du Regiment, in February.

Dame Kiri is one of the most famous figures of the opera world.

She made her Covent Garden debut in 1971, when she was cast as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro.

Ten years later an estimated 600 million people heard her sing at the wedding of Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.

Dame Kiri now spends a lot of time working with and mentoring "future opera stars" through the Solti Academy and her Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation.

Next month she will perform with three young singers at the Tower of London, billed as A Gala Night of Opera.

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