Opera legend Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is to retire from the stage. The New Zealand singer, who turns 70 on Thursday (06Mar14), has confirmed her performance in La Fille Du Regiment, a production running at London's Royal Opera House this month (Mar14), will be her last.
Te Kanawa admits she is struggling to keep up with the physical demands of big productions, but she could be tempted back to the stage for one-off performances.
She tells Britain's ITV News, "You can't say final, can you... (but) it's a small part and it's not going to take up too much of my energy except for my knees. My knees don't like the stage at all now... There's relief that the pressure is off... It's a very, very high energy job and a lot is expected of you - you're really expected to do... more than you can cope with sometimes."
Te Kanawa's professional career has spanned more than 40 years. She famously sang at the wedding of British royals Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales in 1981.
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has bowed out of an upcoming production of Faust at London's Royal Opera House, insisting she isn't the right fit for the role. The opera star, who recently performed at the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Sochi, Russia, has been rehearsing to play Marguerite in a revival of Charles Gounod's show in preparation of April's (13) opening.
However, the singer has since stepped down from the job and apologised for her withdrawal.
A statement released on Friday (28Feb14) reads: "I am so sorry to have to withdraw from the role of Marguerite in Faust. After much consideration and intensive preparation, I have come to the conclusion that the role is not right for me.
"I had been very much looking forward to debuting this role at the Royal Opera House and following it with further performances in Vienna (Austria) and Baden-Baden (Germany). Unfortunately, I must now withdraw from all these productions. I am very sad to be disappointing my fans in these cities and hope they will understand the difficult decision that I have had to make. However, I am very much looking forward to returning to The Royal Opera to perform with the company again in 2015."
A replacement for Netrebko has yet to be announced, although the rest of the line-up remains unchanged, with tenor Joseph Calleja in the title role and Bryn Terfel as Mephistopheles.
Soul singer Sheila Ferguson is planning to tell all about her friendship with British royal Charles, Prince Of Wales in an autobiography. The Three Degrees singer will disclose secrets about their relationship when she pens her book in a bid to dispel rumours they were romantically involved back in the 1970s.
She says, "The press have always speculated that something went on between me and Charles... I don't care how many times I deny it, they always write it. Until my book comes out they're not going to know the truth, which is that we were never intimate at all. I will explain why when I write it, and it's very complicated.
"Charles and I got on so well because we come from such different backgrounds. When he's one-on-one, he's got such a great sense of humour but he's always a gentleman. He's a nice guy. We did a lot for charity. Obviously once he got married (to Diana, Princess of Wales in 1981) there was no contact unless it was about business or an event or whatever."
A polo star who taught Britain's Princes William and Harry has died following a freak accident during a match in Florida. Carlos Gracida was crushed by his own horse during a match on Tuesday (26Feb14) after the animal was hit in the head by a mallet and collapsed.
The 53 year old was taken by helicopter to a local medical centre, where he later passed away.
Gracida was a star of the sport, triumphing in major polo tournaments around the world including the U.S. Open, which he won nine times, and the British Open, where he was a 10-time victor.
He is also said to have coached British royal Charles, Prince of Wales, as well as his two sons William and Harry.
Queen rocker and animal rights activist Brian May has criticised Britain's Princes William and Harry for embracing hunting while also launching an anti-poaching campaign. Prince William hit headlines earlier this month (Feb14) when pictures of him on a wild boar hunt in Spain emerged as he prepared to launch a new charity drive with his father Prince Charles to ban the killing of elephants and rhinos.
On Monday (16Feb14), William's brother Harry became a target when a picture was published online showing him posing with a gun next to the body of a dead water buffalo in Argentina in 2004.
Now passionate animal rights advocate May has waded into the debate, branding the Princes' passion for hunting sickening.
He tells Britain's The Sun newspaper, "It made me feel sick. This is right at the heart of the problem we are looking at in this government. It's the whole attitude of the privileged classes - you can rescue rhinos and elephants in Africa but kill at will anything you want if you're rich... It's an attitude I'm very familiar with as I'm used to talking to people who justify tearing living foxes apart with packs of dogs... It's not logical, justifiable or humane and is the same as people in the 19th century trying to justify slavery... That is an archaic way of thinking and it has to go."
Another veteran rocker, Morrissey, has also criticised William's hunting, labelling the Prince a "thickwit" and branding the royal family an "embarrassment" to the U.K.
Britain's Prince Harry has come under fire from animal rights activists following the publication of a photograph of the royal posing with a slaughtered water buffalo just days after his family backed an anti-poaching campaign. The picture, which was taken in November, 2004 during a trip to Argentina, shows the royal posing with a gun next to the dead animal and its publication comes just days after Harry's brother Prince William launched a new anti-poaching campaign to save rhinos and elephants.
Prince William also found himself in trouble after he was pictured taking part in a wild boar hunt in Spain just days before launching the new charity drive with his father Charles, Prince of Wales, and animal rights campaigners at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have now taken aim at the young royals.
A spokesperson tells WENN, "The princes seem set on ignoring the fact that the majority of the British public abhors cruelty to animals and objects to hunting. If Prince Harry and his brother want their views about wildlife preservation taken seriously, they need to get with the times and stop getting their kicks from killing animals.
"There's no difference between South American water buffalo and the elephants and rhinos they keep talking about the importance of protecting. We live in hope that one day the Princes, especially Harry, will end this double standard. We expect those with guns - and especially soldiers such as Prince Harry - to use them to protect the weak, not to blast their brains out."
Veteran actor Sir Roger Moore is calling for a boycott of a new store selling foie gras in Dubai. The James Bond star is leading a campaign to urge bosses of top U.K. department store Fortnum & Mason to stop stocking the controversial pate.
Now he is extending his drive overseas after a new Fortnum & Mason branch was opened in the emirate territory.
In a statement released via People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), he says, "I do hope the good people of Dubai will not be taken in by Fortnum & Mason's scurrilous claim that 'Englishness' characterises its products. In fact, Fortnum & Mason is widely condemned and boycotted in Britain as one of the last department stores that still sells foie gras - a product so cruel that it is illegal to produce both there and in more than a dozen other countries...
"The great and the good in England - including the Houses of Parliament, Wimbledon, Lord's Cricket Ground, the BAFTA Awards and His Royal Highness Prince Charles - all refuse to serve this 'torture in a tin'. I invite compassionate Dubai shoppers to join us in calling on Fortnum & Mason to end its involvement in the barbaric force-feeding of birds for foie gras."
Singer Morrissey has angrily branded British royal Prince William a "thickwit" after it emerged the heir to the throne went on a deer and boar hunting trip hours before launching a wildlife protection campaign. The Duke of Cambridge reportedly joined his brother Prince Harry in a hunting trip in Spain on Saturday (08Feb14) and the following day (09Feb14) he was seen in a broadcast with his father Charles, Prince of Wales.
The pair called for an end to the illegal hunting of endangered species, but former The Smiths frontman Morrissey has hit out at the announcement, blaming legal hunts for decimating wildlife and branding the royal family an "embarrassment" to the U.K.
Morrissey, who has been a vocal advocate of animal rights during his career, writes in a statement, "One day prior to giving a public plea on behalf of animal welfare (!), Prince William is to be found in Spain (with Prince Harry) shooting and killing as many deer and boar as they possibly can! Although William's speech... will concentrate on endangered species, William is too thickwit to realize that animals such as tigers and rhino are only driven to near extinction because people who are precisely like himself and his brother have shot them off the map - all in the name of sport and slaughter...
"Just why William kills innocent and defenseless deer does not matter - the fact is, he does it, and we must go on and on asking why any form of violence is acceptable to the British establishment... the British (Royal) Family never fails to be a colossal embarrassment to the United Kingdom...
"The rationalists amongst us - who are never allowed to speak, are intelligent enough to realize that endangered species are dying out only because of people like William and Harry, and, for this we can only pray to God that their hunting guns backfire in their faces."
British royal Prince William has been criticised by animal rights activists for taking part in a wild boar hunt in Spain after filming a video calling for the end of exotic animal poaching. The Duke of Cambridge has recorded a short film with his father, Prince Charles, in which he rallies against the killing of elephants and rhinoceroses. The pair is also due to discuss the issue at a conference in the U.K. on Thursday (13Feb14).
However, the video has emerged while Prince William is enjoying a vacation in Spain, where he has been pictured with a gun in his hand on a wild boar shoot.
The news has enraged animal rights campaigners, who have branded the royal a hypocrite.
Joe Duckworth, of British organisation the League Against Cruel Sports, tells the U.K.'s Sunday People newspaper, "These actions show an absolute disregard for animals and wildlife. It makes no sense to be out shooting wild boar one week and hosting a conference on wildlife crime the next. We would question whether anyone can be expected to take him seriously when up on stage talking about how to protect animals."
Aviation investigators in the U.K. have cited mechanical failure as the cause of a terrifying mid-air drama involving British royal Charles, Prince Of Wales last year (13). The heir to the British throne was travelling with his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in a helicopter last May (13) when the aircraft veered out of control, prompting the pilots to make an emergency landing.
No one was hurt in the incident, but the royals were left shaken.
An investigation was launched into the cause of the near-miss and officials at the U.K.'s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have now released their findings, citing a mechanical fault for causing the drama.
The report reveals part of the helicopter's control system broke, leaving the pilots unable to fly the aircraft in a straight line.