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Kirsti Harms, winner of the 1993 Remy Martin Australian Opera Award, was born in South Australia, graduating from the University of Adelaide in 1985 with a Bachelor of Laws degree. She subsequently decided to pursue a career in singing, studying with Audrey Langford in London.
Making her operatic debut in 1986 in The Marriage of Figaro for the State Opera of South Australia, Kirsti went on to perform most of the principal mezzo-soprano roles in the repertoire.
Kristi Harms made her debut with Opera Australia in 1989 as Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana. Other roles included Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Preziosilla in La Forza del Destino, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, Valletto in L'incoronazione di Poppea, Nancy in Albert Herring, Charlotte in Werther, Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte and Melisande in Pelleas et Melisande. She has created numerous roles in new productions including Maddalena in Rigoletto, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Beatrice in Beatrice and Benedict, all directed by Elijah Moshinsky; also Idamante in Idomeneo, Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann and Hermia in Baz Luhrmann's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream which she also performed at the 1994 Edinburgh Festival.
In 2000, she sang at the Olympic Arts Festival in the Sydney Symphony's Mahler No. 8 under Edo de Waart. In 2002, Kirsti appeared as soloist in Peter Sellars' production of El Nino for the Adelaide Festival. She then made the transition to soprano, singing Nedda in Pagliacci for Opera Australia and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni for State Opera of South Australia.
Kirsti Harms began 2003 by singing the title role in Madama Butterfly for Opera Australia; she also repeated her interpretation of El Nino for the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra in Japan and with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, London, under the baton of the composer, John Adams. Later that year, she took on the role of Sister Helen Prejean in SOSA's production of Dead Man Walking. Her other engagements included appearances with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Adelaide Arts Orchestra and a series of Opera In the Vineyards with international tenor, Dennis O'Neill.
In 2004, Kirsti appeared as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier for Opera Australia and in concert with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and at the Jindabyne Music Festival. Performances in 2005 included the role of Musetta in SOSA's La Boheme and as soloist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia, Bundaleer Festival, Townsville Chamber Music Festival and the Queensland Orchestra.