10 Questions for Soprano Pretty Yende
Posted by Melissa Wimbish
South African soprano, Pretty Yende is on the world’s radar thanks to all that “charm” and “star quality”. David Nice interviews the lyric coloratura for The Arts Desk:
Everyone who heard it must have been charmed by South African soprano Pretty Yende’s Radio 4 chat in which she recounted what hooked her on opera. It was a coup de foudre, watching a British Airways ad on telly at home in Piet Retief, and the sound of those two female voices entwined in the Flower Duet from Delibes’ Lakmé.
Quite a catchy tunesmith, that Delibes: for those of an older generation, like myself, it was Lakmé’s Bell Song which parents remembered from old films, occasioning in my case a trip to Sutton Record Library to find it on The World of Joan Sutherland. I became infatuated with opera on the spot, but I didn’t become a soprano. Yende did, and from a careful training in Cape Town and a key role as “Summertime” Clara in Porgy and Bess, she blossomed at La Scala’s Young Artists’ Training Programme under superstar eyes and stepped in with a month’s notice to sing opposite Juan Diego Flórez at the Met.
She hasn’t looked back, and to go with a beautiful voice that’s much richer than she or others first thought, a lyric soprano that can also cope with Sutherland-style coloratura, is a personality that’s both absolutely self-assured and totally adorable with it. Yes, she has the star quality, the professionalism and the staying power, you can be sure of that. Catch her at her second London recital in the Cadogan Hall tomorrow tomorrow; next stop, the Royal Opera (though she can’t as yet reveal in what). When I met her – she was on a flying visit from Milan – I had to start at the usual place.