Kiri Te Kanawa gained legendary status almost overnight after her sensational debut as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1971. From then, she moved rapidly into the front rank of international opera, and has become one of the most famous sopranos in the world. At the time of her operatic debut she was already an experienced concert and recording artist, and equally at home in front of the cameras as on stage. She has since sung at every major opera house in the world, signed an exclusive contract with Decca Records and won virtually universal praise, acclaim and awards for her talent. In 1981 her celebrity reached new heights when she was asked to sing at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, where an estimated 600 million people heard her sing that day (and anyone who missed it probably heard her sing Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" over the credits of the popular Merchant-Ivory film "A Room With a View" five years later.) And in1982, the orphaned, half-Maori girl from Gisborne was tapped by Queen Elizabeth to become a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Continuing to develop as a recitalist, she is now a much sought-after singer in a wide variety of musical contexts.