Pretty Yende was invited to sing at the star-studded Metropolitan Opera’s 50th Anniversary Gala at Lincoln Center earlier this month. Joined by American Bass-Baritone Eric Owens, Ms. Yende sang Bess in the duet “Bess, you is my woman now” from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess,and she portrayed Norina in a selection from Don Pasquale with baritone Mariusz Kwiecien.
“Ms. Yende, who sang beautifully in a scene from Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” with the baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, also brought melting warmth and tenderness to the duet from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” (“Bess, you is my woman now”), joined by the formidable bass-baritone Eric Owens. (The Met clearly has two leads ready to go for a revival, which is overdue.)” (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times)
The Metropolitan Opera moved to its current home in 1966, where it has invited the world’s most important opera singers to perform. Ms. Yende made her critically acclaimed house debut in 2013, as a last minute replacement for soprano Diana Damrau in Rossini’s Comte Ory. Beloved by the New York City audience since her debut, Ms. Yende has frequently been invited to return to the Metropolitan Opera’s stage singing roles such as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette and Elvira in I puritani. She returns to the Metropolitan Opera in the 2017/18 season as Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore.
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At a Gala reception on May 7 in London, Pretty Yende’s Sony Classical release titled “A Journey” was honored with a 2017 International Opera Award for Best Recording – Solo Recital. See a complete list of winners and nominees here, and purchase your copy of this acclaimed album at the following link.
“What’s not to love about Pretty Yende? Her voice is delightful, her personality sparkles, and her story is inspiring. Just 31, Yende has gone from life in a South African township to stardom on the world’s opera stages. Now her first album, titled “A Journey,” documents her impressive lyric abilities, her lustrous tone and especially her mastery of coloratura. Runs and trills are tossed off with seeming ease, and she can soar to a high E natural without sounding strained.
The seven selections, mostly bel canto arias by Rossini, Donizetti or Bellini, reflect stages of her story, triumphs in vocal competitions or important debuts. She sounds lovely …
In keeping with her personal narrative, she includes the “Flower Duet” from Delibes’ “Lakme,” with mezzo Kate Aldrich as partner. It’s by now part of Pretty Yende lore that her interest in opera was sparked by hearing the tune in a British Airways TV commercial when she was 16.
The most interesting choice in the album is the “Poison Aria” from Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette,” which requires a heavier lyric voice than bel canto. Yende does a good job of capturing Juliette’s fearfulness and determination, and her voice is surprisingly robust in the climaxes.”
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Pretty Yende will star as Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette this season at The Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Yende takes the stage from March 3-18 alongside a spectacular cast, including Stephen Costello as Roméo, Matthew Rose as Frère Laurent, and Paula Murrihy is Stéphano. The production, created by Bartlett Sher, features set designs by Michael Yeargan and costumes by Catherine Zuber.
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Press Release: Pretty Yende will sing the role of Elvira in tomorrow evening’s performance of Bellini’s I Puritani, replacing Diana Damrau, who is ill.
Ms. Yende, who has sung Elvira with Zurich Opera, recently starred as Rosina in a Met revival of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. She made an unexpected Met debut in 2013 as Countess Adèle in Rossini’s Le Comte Ory and returned in 2014 to sing Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Next month, she will make her Met role debut as Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Her other recent performances have included the title role in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at Paris Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin; Adina in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore at the Bavarian State Opera; and Amira in Rossini’s Ciro in Babilonia at the Rossini Opera Festival.
Tomorrow evening’s performance of I Puritani is conducted by Maurizio Benini and also stars Javier Camarena as Arturo, Alexey Markov as Riccardo, and Luca Pisaroni as Giorgio.
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Pretty Yende returns to The Metropolitan Opera in the first of two engagements this season, starring as Rosina in Rossini’s eternally popular classic, Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Ms. Yende sings the role from January 9 – February 11, with two casts including Peter Mattei and Edward Parks as Figaro, and Javier Camarena and Dmitry Korchak as Count Almaviva. Maurizio Benini leads the Met Opera Orchestra for this production, which features a staging by Bartlett Sher.
Image: Emon Hassan
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Pretty Yende’s debut solo album titled “A Journey” is now available for purchase from Amazon and iTunes – it can also be enjoyed via Spotify. Ms. Yende sings arias from Lakmé, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, and more on the CD, which has already been lauded with rave reviews from critics:
“The album opens with “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s Barber of Seville, an opera that served as Yende’s Paris Opéra debut earlier this year. It’s a smart leadoff performance, introducing the voice’s many assets: creamy warmth, a focused vibrato, shimmering and easily placed top notes. She tosses off the aria’s pyrotechnical flourishes with élan while revealing the spunky character of Rosina.
The aforementioned Lakmé “Flower Duet,” with a winsome-voiced Kate Aldrich, is an obvious choice, as is the Bellini aria that follows. “Ma la sola, ohimè,” from Beatrice di Tenda, helped Yende earn three prizes at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition in 2011. Here, Yende spins a silky bel canto line, carefully adding tinges of sadness to music that sometimes sounds brighter than the solemn text.
The year before, in 2010, Yende was the first to sweep all top prizes at Vienna’s Belvedere Singing Competition. Her secret weapon was an aria from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet. As the titular, panic-stricken heroine, Yende radiates charisma from the opening line, “Dieu, quell frisson court dans mes veines!” (God, what a shudder runs through my veins!) Moments of self-doubt, courage and fear flash by as the darker shades of Yende’s voice push through Gounod’s trills …
The album closes with the luxuriously appointed mad scene from Bellini’s I puritani. With its dramatic freakouts and high-flying fioriture, it’s something of a Mount Everest for any courageous coloratura. Although Yende hasn’t lived in the lead role long (she debuted it this year in Zurich), she makes Elvira’s mania believable, crowning the hysteria with a secure high E-flat.” (Tom Huizenga, NPR Classical)
“So what’s so special about Pretty Yende? Her voice is hugely flexible and here used without strain in even the most demanding passages. She displays not only a top-class vocal and dramatic technique but also a high-wire artist’s courage and confidence. It’s the sheer brilliance of her attack that leaves audiences around the world clamouring for more.” (David Mellor, The Daily Mail)
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