Gala Concert 2004
February 28, 2004 saw a historic event at Auckland’s Aotea Centre. New Zealand’s two greatest operatic divas, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major, performed together in concert for the very first time. The Dame Kiri and Friends concert was Kiri’s brainchild. Kiri wanted to find a very special way to launch her new Foundation, which had been set up to support talented New Zealand singers and musicians. Dame Malvina had for many years devoted herself to supporting young New Zealand singers through her own Foundation, and she immediately agreed to take part.
The cast was completed by other fine New Zealand singers: Helen Medlyn, Simon O’Neill and the Opera Factory ensemble. Accompaniment was provided by the Auckland Philharmonia under the musical directorship of Julian Reynolds and Brian Law.
During the UBS sponsored concert, which was recorded for later broadcast, video messages of goodwill and encouragement for the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation were received from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Placido Domingo, Sir Edmund Hillary, Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Jackie Stewart and Neil Finn. A personal appearance on stage by star rugby player Jonah Lomu was met with rapturous applause.
The concert sold out with days of going on sale and the evening itself was an enormous celebration of New Zealand talent; the spirit of that magical night is captured in these images.