In 2015 the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation (UK), in recognition of Dame Kiri’s 70th birthday and her long professional association with Covent Garden made a grant of £70,000 to The Royal Opera. The grant, to be used over 3–5 years, was a new scheme devised to further the careers of emerging artists of great promise. Young artists would be selected to take on cover roles where The Royal Opera might not normally be able to have a cover in place. This could enable a selected artist to gain significant international exposure should an opportunity to sing the role arise.
Hulkar Sabirova a young soprano from Uzebekistan was selected as the first recipient of the Kiri Te Kanawa Cover Award to cover the role of Lucia in the Royal Opera’s 2015-16 production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Hulkar made her debut in the role of Lucia for Deutsche Oper Berlin in May 2014.