Dame Kiri Becomes Dame Melba on Downton

New Zealand-born opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who has sung for presidents and princes, including in front of a 600-million audience at Prince Charles’s wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, has revealed that nothing was as frightening as her first day on the set of Downton Abbey, where she joined the rest of the established cast in her role as celebrated Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba.

“I’m not sure I was acting,” Dame Kiri admitted modestly at the series 4 launch in London this week. “With that group of people, I’m not sure about that.”

Dame Kiri is the first person to play a real-life person in the hit drama, what she calls her “favourite programme in the entire world”.

In an extra treat for those who attended the series launch screening in London’s Mayfair, Dame Kiri also gave a sneak preview of her Downton performances, with renditions of Puccini’s ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ (from the opera Gianni Schicchi, that undeniably romantic tune used in ‘Room with a View’ too) and Antonín Dvo?ák’s ‘Songs My Mother Taught Me’.

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