“The title role is played by Italian baritone Lucio Gallo in gloriously comic style, but the real star of the piece is South African soprano Pretty Yende whose magnificent high notes are matched by her confident acting which combines excellent comic timing with some very funny gestures.
She is first seen in Michieletto’s production as a photographer’s assistant, which allows her to be trained for the role of duping Pasquale while a camera is trained on her to project a huge image of her expressions, fluttering eyelashes and all, onto a screen on the stage.”
“Norina, sung by South African soprano, Pretty Yende, quickly becomes the bride of nightmares, but Yende has both a beguiling coloratura and a real charm. She shows real confidence in the role, particularly in her pouting self-assurance as she prepares for the sham marriage to Pasquale.”
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“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.”
“…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.”
“Très investi, le casting insuffle une belle énergie à cette vision. Depuis leur apparition dans La Traviata en début de saison, Benjamin Bernheim et Pretty Yende sont devenus le duo lyrique à suivre tant leur complicité est évidente. Pretty Yende réussit une jolie prise de rôle et confère beaucoup de fraîcheur au personnage grâce à la pureté de son timbre et à un jeu de scène très simple et direct. Le français impeccable et l’aigu irradiant aboutissent à une scène du Cour-la-Reine parfaitement dominée. La soprano n’est en outre jamais avare de nuances et met en exergue l’émotion sur une inflexion, un mot, un murmure. À cet égard, son « Adieu ma petite table » est particulièrement inspiré.”
“Cette jeune femme instinctive trouve en Pretty Yende une interprète idéale. La soprano sud-africaine lui prête en effet son charme naturel, une candeur et une lumière dans la voix parfaitement irrésistibles.”
“Le timbre chatoyant se double d’une maîtrise parfaite des passages virtuoses, les vertigineuses vocalises et les notes suraiguës s’enchaînant comme autant d’évidences. La chanteuse déploie une palette d’émotions convaincante, du lyrisme contenu d’« Adieu notre petite table » au triomphateur « Je marche sur tous les chemins ».”
La Fille du Régiment, Donizetti’s sunny romp through the Tyrolean hills, may feel like a light piece, a silly romantic comedy with a few memorable numbers. In a revival this February, the enchanting production by Laurent Pelly and a starry cast made this goofy opéra comique seem full of deep meaning. Javier Camarena’s Tonio was one for the ages and he was called on to encore “Pour mon âme” every night, while Pretty Yende’s coloratura fireworks and keen musical instincts in the role of Marie made for the greatest triumph yet in a young but already impressive career. From bottom to top, this cast boasted irresistibly playful performances that proved romantic comedy can be as profoundly joyful as the most heart-rending drama can be tragic.
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“Yende’s German was splendid; she opened the evening with Schumann’s sentimental jewel of a song ‘Der Nussbaum’, and immediately established a sensitivity of sound, perfectly balancing vibrato and the crisp text of storytelling, that she maintained throughout the set.
Indeed, her entire Schumann programme showed a mastery of something so central to singing Lieder: finding just the right moments and vowels onto which to hang conspicuously artful singing, and otherwise appearing to be a simple orator, one whose sole wish is to tell a riveting story. ”
Seen and Heard International
“Acclaimed opera soprano Pretty Yende performed to a standing ovation on Monday at the Barbican Hall, London the culmination of her first EU recital tour.
Yende, referred to by the Washington Post as having a “voice that can reach the stars”and, as a “modern fairy tale”, put on two encores for the rousing audience following her solo recital that included works by Robert and Clara Schumann, Tosti, Donizetti, Richard Strauss and Johann Strauss II.”
“In her Richard Strauss set, Yende proved she has all the maturity subtle artistry to succeed in lieder repertoire: her “Zueignung” presented a perfect distillation of heroic love, with confident, firm diction and warm, radiant tone. “Cäcilie,” the last of the set, was magnificent, with a driving excitement in her middle voice, and shining gold at the top.”
New York Classical Review
“Voce lirico-leggera di scuola americana, immascheratissima, agile e con una notevole facilità all’acuto, la Yende è infatti riuscita a mettere in risalto le sue qualità soprattutto nei brani più di carattere e ricchi di verve quali Schmetterling di Schumann e nei sorprendenti brani in napoletano La conocchia e il bis ‘A vucchella'”
Ein bis ins Pianissimo fein ausgearbeiteter Liederabend Pretty Yendes in der Oper.
Eine neue Jessye Norman wird sie nicht werden, Pretty Yende, die in Südafrika geboren wurde. Die mittlerweile in allen großen Häusern präsente, namentlich an der New Yorker Metropolitan Opera aktive Sopranistin ist das ganze Gegenteil der jüngst verstorbenen Diva. Kein hochdramatischer Sopran und ein ganz anderer Habitus, eine ganz andere Stimmgebung. Eindrücklich war trotzdem Yendes Auftritt bei den Liederabend-Konzerten der Frankfurter Oper, wo der Publikumszuspruch so groß war, dass die Ränge geöffnet werden mussten.
Eine zierliche, lebhafte, wenngleich nicht quirlige Erscheinung bietet die 34-jährige, in Mailand wohnhafte Künstlerin, deren Sopran leicht und in der Dynamik höchst beweglich ist. Zierlich wäre auch eine Qualifizierung der Stimme, wenn damit nicht zu sehr Pittoreskes und Kleines verbunden sein könnte. Dennoch: die oft ganz druckfreie, fast beiläufige, aber genau ausgearbeitete Handhabung des Piano- und Pianissimobereichs schufen eine oft mädchenhaft anmutende Naivität. Freundlich – das ist zwar auch keine echte Stimmcharakterisierung, aber zur vokalen Atmosphäre Yendes passte das auch in der mimischen, publikumszugewandten Weise, mit der keine augenzwinkernde und augenrollende Ironie oder Melancholie einherging.
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“… it was clear that Yende’s voice was going to handle the role quite well when she sang her first phrase“Flora, amici, la note che resta.” Most light voices suffer here and are unheard over the orchestra, but this was not the case with the South African soprano’s singing, as her beautiful, velvet timbre and the low C projected amply. The roulades in the duet with Alfredo seemed easy and precise, like she was laughing at him.”