How Kiri turned a football player into an opera tenor

Something about this 6-foot-5-inch man struck a chord with her.

She put down her pen, looked straight at him and said, “What are you doing here? Are you a singer?” He replied, “Yes. I’m a tenor,” and she began asking questions about his career aspirations and preparation.

When she asked how things were going, he took a deep breath.

“She looked at me and said, ‘Let me help you. I want to help you.’ I literally just stood there dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say, and she had to repeat herself. She goes, ‘Can I help you?’ And I said, ‘OK.’” An assistant gave him her phone number, and she said, “Call me tonight.”

He did, indeed, call her that night and met with her. About six months later, when she was back in town to give a concert at Carnegie Hall, she had Pupu’a come backstage, then took him to Juilliard to sing for Brian Zeger, artistic director of vocal arts at the famed performing arts conservatory. She got him in the door — his talent and tenacity got him a full scholarship.

Read the full story here.


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  • And OPERA CONNECTICUT has been pleased to feature Ta’u as our Cavaradossi!

  • Kudos to Dame Kiri for her untiring work to identify, encourage, and promote promising young singers from NZ and the region. She has opened career doors for many.

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