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Will she or won’t she? In addition to keeping music lovers riveted with her lovely, unique voice, soprano Kiri Te Kanawa likes to keep them guessing.

In what was billed as her “farewell D.C. performance,” Miss Te Kanawa was the star Saturday night at the Kennedy Center for the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Fall Celebration.

At one point, Miss Te Kanawa toyed with the audience, indicating that her so-called “retirement” may not be set in stone and that this may not be the last the nation’s capital sees of her.

Miss Te Kanawa is a beloved figure in the world of opera, having appeared in the world’s major opera houses. She is also a recording artist and known to popular audiences as having sung at the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana in London. A native of New Zealand, she was made a commander of the British Empire in 1982.

There have been reports in the media recently that the 60-something diva is looking to slow down, perform less and focus on her charitable foundation, which helps mentor young artists in her homeland.

The idea of slowing down, it seems, is also trickling into her repertoire.

She explained that she decided to only sing “slow” songs Saturday because “I like them. I don’t apologize.”

Luminous in a winter-white evening coat with diamond embellishments, Ms. Kanawa told the crowd that she selected a white ensemble because “Washington is white. Everything is white here.”

We didn’t exactly get this, so we asked around at the gala dinner for some feedback from the guests.

“I think she was talking about the monuments. You know, the White House, the Capitol Building and the other buildings are all white,” said WTOP Radio’s “Man About Town” Bob Madigan.

Yet another example of the singer’s mysterious vibe. In fact, she did not appear at the dinner, and we were told that she probably wouldn’t answer our questions anyway because “she’s very private.”

The patron of the evening was British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald, who was not in attendance but sent his wife, Julia, who seemed to grit her teeth in vexation when Neale Perl, the president and CEO of the WPAS, introduced her as “Julie.”

Also from the diplomatic community was New Zealand Ambassador Roy Neil Ferguson who delivered remarks at the dinner, and from National Public Radio came Nina Totenberg.

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail