The New Zealand diva was born Claire Mary Teresa Rawstron on March 6, 1944.
Adopted by a Maori couple, Thomas and Nell Te Kanawa, she took their surname. After singing in Auckland pop clubs, she came to London to study with Vera Rozsa and caught the ear of Georg Solti and Colin Davis. In 1970, she received a three-year contract at Covent Garden.
She rose to superfame at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981, catching the eye on television in a bright-yellow canary outfit as much as she caught the ear in Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim.
She has since received every available royal honour, sold piles of records, presided at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and appeared in Downton Abbey.