South African soprano Pretty Yende, 29, who made a widely praised debut on short notice last year at the Metropolitan Opera and then at La Scala, makes her Washington debut at Kennedy Center on Nov. 6.
“Young unknown learns daunting role on short notice; crowd goes wild; critics approve,” wrote “The New Yorker” about Yende’s debut as merely the principal female lead in Rossini’s “Le Comte Ory”. “But the individual poise of her musicianship—the unforced fullness of her timbre, a tonal warmth that persists even through flights of treacherous coloratura—makes her distinctive, as well as a leading figure in a new wave of classical musicians from South Africa.”
When she performed again at the Met early last month, this time as Pamina in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”, “The New York Times” hailed Yende’s “opulent voice with a dark-brushed metal sheen”.
She also made her New York recital debut on Oct. 13 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.
“The New York Times” reviewer noted, “A gracefulness that can seem decidedly divine seems to radiate from Ms. Yende…Not every young artist making a New York recital debut is in possession of such serenity.”
Those sublime reviews in October are only the latest of many accolades she has received for her debuts in Los Angeles and in major European opera houses.
All this while in her 20s, and within just 23 months since her Met debut.
Now, for her first performance in the nation’s capital, Yende will sing —
- Arias by Bellini, Meyerbeer, and Giménez
- Songs by Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti
- Debussy songs set to poems by Paul Verlaine
- Liszt’s “Three Petrarch Sonnets”. “A sweeter concert than any other on earth to be heard on earth,” as Petrarch wrote in one of these sonnets, “I beheld on earth angelic grace”.
For the full, rich program, click here; and for additional program notes, click here.
She will appear with conductor and collaborative pianist Kamal Khan, a native Washingtonian. Yende’s mentor, Khan is also the director of the opera department at the University of Cape Town, her alma mater.
Yende was born in Piet Retief in South Africa’s eastern province of Mpumalanga, bordering Swaziland and Mozambique. She gained international attention in 2010, when she became the first artist in the three-decade history of the Belvedere Competition in Vienna to win First Prize in every category. In 2011, she was the first prizewinner of Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition.
Her eagerly awaited recital Nov. 6 is presented by Vocal Arts DC, hailed by Kennedy Center past president Michael Kaiser as “One of the great vocal series of the world.”
The other greatest highlight of its great series this season is the renowned tenor Matthew Polenzani, Jan. 14. “Few singers today command the sheer beauty of timbre and dynamic control of Matthew Polenzani,” notes “Opera News” about the international star.
No need to wait until then. On Dec. 10, baritone John Brancy presents “Silent Night: A WWI Centenary Tribute in Song”. Brancy crafted the program, and will provide commentary between the songs by Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Orff, Alma Mahler, Butterworth, and Ives, among others, and traditional songs like “Danny Boy”. (As we know, World War One began in 1914 in Europe, and the U.S. finally entered the war in 1917.)
Three additional Vocal Arts DC recitals in 2015 include the ever-entertaining New York Festival of Song.
Vocal Arts DC always presents a fine festival of song.
For more info and tickets: Pretty Yende recital, Nov. 6, 7:30 P.M., Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street, NW Washington, D.C. Box office 202-467-4600 or 800-444-1324, or www.kennedy-center.org/tickets. Vocal Arts DC, www.VocalArtsDC.org, 202-669-1463. For tickets, including mini-subscriptions, for its next performances, click here. To hear Yende in recital at London’s Wigmore Hall, click here.