Case of flying underpants lands Kiri in court
Tuesday 30 January 2007
The opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa pulled out of a series of joint concerts with the Australian pop star John Farnham because she heard that fans threw their underwear at him, a court in Sydney heard yesterday.
An Australian concert promoter, Leading Edge Events, is suing Dame Kiri and her former manager, Nick Grace, for £237,000 for alleged breach of contract. She withdrew from performances scheduled to take place in Sydney and Melbourne in 2005.
The New South Wales Supreme Court heard that Dame Kiri had serious doubts about Farnham's live shows, which she regarded as "absolutely horrendous". She also expressed concerns that Farnham "was very talkative" on stage, said Richard Evans, a lawyer for Leading Edge.
Dame Kiri, a New Zealander, would have received a minimum of £80,000 for each of the three concerts, for which she and Farnham were billed as "two great voices".
Mr Evans told the court that Leading Edge had spent more than £100,000 in preparation for the concerts. The expenses included a helicopter that the company chartered for Dame Kiri in 2004 so she could travel quickly from a meeting in Auckland to her 60th birthday celebrations on New Zealand's North Island.
Mr Evans said the soprano had told Mr Grace of her concerns about performing with Farnham, one of Australia's best known pop singers, but the manager did not pass on that information to the promoters.
"On many occasions, Dame Kiri told Mr Grace that she was not committed and had some reservations about co-performing with John Farnham," he said. Her concerns were heightened after she watched recordings of Farnham in concert.
The opera singer thought that Farnham was disturbingly chatty on stage, and was taken aback to see ladies' underwear being thrown at him. "It would have become apparent to Mr Grace that Dame Kiri might not agree to perform with John Farnham, yet that was never ... properly communicated to the plaintiff," Mr Evans said.
"So the plaintiff was led into error in thinking if someone's pants ended up on the stage that was not enough to dissuade Dame Kiri from performing with John Farnham."
Dame Kiri was not in court yesterday. She has launched her own legal action against Mr Grace over the failed concerts.
After the concerts were cancelled, Farnham was quoted as saying that he understood why Dame Kiri required total silence on stage. "Kiri is obviously a dame, and I mean that with great respect," he said.
Farnham, 57, has been performing for four decades, but he does not have the international reputation of Dame Kiri, one of the world's best known opera divas.
She cancelled the concert series in March 2004, despite receiving assurances from Frank Williams, the head of Leading Edge, that no underwear would be thrown when the pair appeared together. She also cited concerns about payment methods and issues about artistic control.
Mr Evans told the court about other diva-style behaviour by Dame Kiri, who refused to acknowledge Mr Williams's business partner, Eileen Newbury, when the pair were introduced at a restaurant. He said that the soprano also spent some time "remonstrating" with a waitress over a glass of mineral water.
According to media reports, Dame Kiri will appear in court to give evidence later this week.
The hearing continues.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 2 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
Madonna might be a stand-up comedy virgin - but she wasn't terrible
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling