Kiri Te Kanawa

MICHAEL DRAKE Norwich Theatre Royal

MICHAEL DRAKE

This was not the Dame Kiri of the operatic stage – which a number of the audience may have regretted – but her lighter, more intimate side in a largely seasonal programme.

Sparkling in dress and voice, she was joined by the Manchester Camerata and directed by her long-standing accompanist, Julian Reynolds and began with a trio of his arrangements of Vivaldi arias.

It was a coup for the theatre to attract one of only four UK concerts for the diva and immediately there was an extraordinary level of artistry from her which continued in Brahms and Reger cradle songs and the particularly gently treated traditional The Virgin Washes the Swaddling.

And so to Christmas, with Dame Kiri in startling red and a series of fairly relaxed and well-known seasonal songs.

It was not in all of them she appeared entirely happy but was most effective in those with longer musical lines such as I'll Be Home For Christmas and White Christmas.

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In a number of these she had a “backing group” – and how impressive were our own Keswick Hall Singers who, with neatness and precision, made the bells ring as well as singing parts of 20 (or more?) carols in three minutes.

The stage is not the best acoustic vehicle for a chamber orchestra and Corelli or Vivaldi but otherwise the Camerata made the most of some delightful accompanying arrangements – none better than in Dame Kiri's traditional Maori song, which for me was the final highlight.

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