MICHAEL Unwin is marking singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s arrival in town by pulling out a special variety of sparkling wine before her performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat today.
When the Beaufort winemaker worked at Mission Winery in New Zealand two decades ago, he was requested to make a special variety of sparkling wine for a Dame Kiri’s homecoming concert at the vineyard.
The wine, labelled Kiri, was opened at the concert on January 23 in 1993, and now the legendary soprano will perform in Ballarat with Mr Unwin in the audience.
After 20 years, Mr Unwin still has four bottles of Kiri left.
“When I saw that she was performing here, I knew straight away that I would go, and bought my tickets as soon as I could,” Mr Unwin said.
“And then later I thought ‘I reckon I’ve still got some (bottles) left’ – and sure enough I found four.
“They still have a couple of bottles at the vineyard in New Zealand as well.”
Although it wasn’t 20 years ago that Mr Unwin last tasted some of the Kiri.
“I opened one five years ago as well ... it wasn’t bad for older wine,” he said.
Dame Kiri’s career took off in Ballarat, after winning the Sun Aria as part of the Royal South Street Competitions.
Her Majesty’s Theatre manager Graeme Russell said it was significant that Dame Kiri was performing at the iconic Lydiard Street South theatre this weekend, as she didn’t have the chance in the 1960s – it was at a time when the theatre was closed and so she performed at the Civic Hall.