The final song of the three encores we demanded of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at her Llewellyn Hall concert was a breathlessly beautiful song, sung with the special magic of a lady at a time in her long and brilliant career where the dynamic seems to change and she finds a different emotion with her magnificent voice to bring a lightness to what was in fact a popular song. To Dance With My Father Again is a Luther Vandross song covered by some of those seeking fame and fortune in voice contests, others of great experience but none of the calibre of this classy Dame. It was the perfect finale for the 70th Birthday Gala Tour Concert.
The prelude at Parliament House included an interlude in the Speaker’s suite where she almost convinced Bronwyn Bishop to sing a duet that would have had us seeking a couple of top hats and canes for the perfect photo opportunity.
“ We’re a couple of swells”, was the Fred Astaire and Judy Garland song that Dame Kiri Te Kanawa tried to get our Madame Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, to singalong with her in the courtyard, but Madame Speaker declined graciously. Photo opportunity it was, a YouTube video it was never going to be, but a delightful meeting of two women of mature age with a great sense of fun was for both a happy occasion.
As a guest of Madame Speaker who is an opera lover, Dame Kiri enjoyed the chance to see question time and give the gathered press pack the kind of meet and greet she takes in her stride with her hostess watching and listening closely to every question but not needing standing orders to call anyone to order.
Each interview brought a little more of the Dame Kiri story back to remind of the millions who watched and heard her sing for the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana and the billion at the turn of the century Millenium Concert in Gisborne New Zealand where she was born.
This concert, a wonderful mix of arias, folksongs, and a taste of Broadway with the incomparable Terence Dennis as her accompanist brought the pleasure of a balanced concert program to entertain those of us who also eschew retirement as Dame Kiri does. Her exit in a rustle of pink taffeta atop a sweeping black skirt with her hands above her shoulders in a gesture of “that’s it folks”. Maybe it was though, a final for this stage.