Possessed of diamanté tone and a megawatt smile, the young South African soprano Pretty Yende seems to take charge of the stage wherever she goes.
It’s not hard to see why she has won so many major voice competitions or made spectacular debuts recently, including at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Her London recital debut at Wigmore Hall, presented under the auspices of the Rosenblatt Recitals, was thus eagerly awaited. Among other composers heard here, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini all gave her a chance to confirm her credentials as a singer in the Italianate tradition.
Floating a line in which every note is always perfectly placed, Yende is best of all in the bel canto repertoire. Highlights included “O luce di quest’anima”, the show-stopping aria from Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix, in which Yende displayed a good trill; some soft coloratura in “Bel raggio” from Rossini’s Semiramide; and the stillness and poise she brought to Bellini’s song “Almen, se non poss’io”.
Yet such bright, glinting tone can make for an unvaried concert. Yende tried to address this with a group of well-loved Debussy songs, which softened the atmosphere, and some American numbers by Weill, Gershwin and Bernstein – whose “I feel pretty” she was at least in one sense born to sing.
In the final Rosenblatt recital for 2012-13, South African soprano Pretty Yende took London’s Wigmore Hall by storm in her UK recital debut, with accompanist James Vaughan. Heard only once before in the UK, singing “Summertime” in Cape Town Opera’s 2009 tour of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, the 28-year-old soprano, who grew up in a township, has packed in an award-winning few years, and acclaimed performances at the Met New York and La Scala Milan.
Yende’s voice is lustrous, amazingly agile, and she has the technical skill to tackle the acrobatics of Rossini or Donizetti, with a dizzying “O light of my soul” from the latter’s Linda di Chamounix. She took in Gershwin and Bernstein too, (“I feel pretty” from West Side Story).