“Pretty Yende is a commanding Violetta from the outset. She snaps open her fan to move from the ailing courtesan seen during the Prelude to become the ‘belle of the ball’ in Act I as she proceeds to dance with several men at her party and leave each of them breathless. However, it is the way in which her portrayal becomes increasingly sensitive and emotional across the evening as a whole that makes it so special.
Her voice is notably rich and full from the start… Yende is never short of captivating as she really looks as if she is bleeding inside as she writes her farewell letter to Alfredo in Act II. Her Act III performance of ‘Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti’ is utterly heartbreaking, but while there is a certain poetry to the frailty she portrays in the aria itself she subsequently shows how she really is at death’s door and how there is really nothing beautiful about this at all, even as she tries to maintain her spirit and fight against it as much as she can.”
“Yende is a star, without doubt, and in the finest sense of the word. Her stage presence is huge, her technique superb. She has all the mobility for Verdi’s demands but the dramatic ability to make every word count (‘E strano!’ was gripping, just those two words; and how tender the ‘Ah fors’ è lui’, with the vocal fireworks positively alight). Yende was, in the first act, radiant; her way with Giorgio Germont in the second act was brilliant, more resolute than most in her belief in her love for Alfredo, and unyielding for longer, convincingly emotionally blanched in her responses, before caving in to Giorgio’s demands and offering the most brilliant decline, sudden rise then sudden fall in the final act. It is an assumption of the role that now takes premiere place in all of the Traviatas I have seen at Covent Garden, or elsewhere.”
Seen and Heard International
“…an empathetically spluttering audience were roused to enormous ovations for the two sopranos who head this revival — it’s double-cast and even double-conducted. The applause is deserved in both cases but my laurels go to the South African soprano Pretty Yende… Yende’s Violetta is touchingly credible while singing with silky, honeyed elegance.”
“The strikingly beautiful Pretty Yende from South Africa is perfectly cast as Violetta and in this performance was convincing both vocally and in her staging of the role.
Violetta gradually falls for Alfredo’s wooing and Yende handles her character’s emotional journey with tremendous subtlety as well as some fantastic singing. Yende’s voice has a bell-like quality, focus and passion as well as the technical ability to master the composer’s fast melismatic scalar passages and truly exception control of dynamic range.”