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A retiring manner in a farewell

May 21, 2006|Diane Haithman

SOME opera singers find it hard to say goodbye. Luciano Pavarotti's Farewell Tour, which brought the superstar tenor to the Hollywood Bowl for a one-night performance in September, was supposed to end on Pavarotti's 70th birthday, Oct. 12, 2005.

But the long farewell is now apparently booked through summer 2006: If you missed him at the Bowl, there's still time to catch Pavarotti on June 11 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Canada (tickets $55 to $750, according to Ticketmaster).

But Kiri Te Kanawa decided to make it short, sweet and secret. The London Times reported last week that the celebrated soprano took her final curtain call with no diva fanfare more than a year ago at Los Angeles Opera -- on Dec. 18, 2004, to be exact, her closing night in the title role of Samuel Barber's "Vanessa."

Although rumors of her departure had been swirling throughout the opera's run, opera spokesman Gary Murphy says that the singer would not confirm her retirement -- not from performing, but from the opera stage -- for public announcement.

"She announced it to her cast mates after her final curtain," Murphy says. "And they all walked into her dressing room, and she basically told people that was it. It was just a private moment for her, and I think we had to respect that."

Mezzo-soprano Lucy Schaufer, who sang the role of Erika, Vanessa's daughter, was among the backstage invitees. "It was closing night, so she asked us to join her in her dressing room for a bit of bubbly," says Schaufer, who will star in L.A. Opera's "Hansel and Gretel" in September. "So we all went in, and as we poured Veuve Clicquot into Dixie cups, she announced that it was going to be her last one. We didn't dare sniffle, because we probably would have gotten our bubbly in the face.

"It's perfect Kiri -- Dixie cups because she's a no-nonsense woman, but Veuve Clicquot because she's classy," Schaufer says. "It's her, really."

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Diane Haithman

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