SA opera star hits high notes in Zurich
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International opera singer Pretty Yende makes her Zurich opera theatre debut in Switzerland tonight.
The artist, who has been based in Milan for the past seven years, is without doubt South Africa’s best export.
She was in the country a few weeks ago for special performances, but had to rush back to her second home in Europe to prepare for this special night.
“I'm really looking forward to my debut in Zurich's opera house.
“It is a new production as the prima donna in Bellini’s I Puritani. It will be the first time that I'll be performing in that opera house. I am super-excited about this,” she says.
The 31-year-old will also be releasing her debut CD with Sony Classical in August. Her itinerary is also filled with opera performances in Pesaro, Italy, New York in the US and the UK in the coming months.
“The international classical arena is so huge and diverse, and compels the performer to be up-to-date with her artistic skills as there are many in the arena.
“It is pretty immense and to be one of the few enjoying the fruits of being one of the first artists to get a call from all major international opera houses is priceless,” says the songbird.
Born in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, Yende graduated from the South African College of Music, which forms part of the University of Cape Town.
“As a girl who grew up in a small town’, the girl herself never saw anything small’. Everything was perfect.
“The main drastic changes when I got to Milan were the language barrier, the food and the culture. All my senses were challenged,” she says.
Yende says her supportive family and friends keep her posted on what is happening at home and she tunes in to Ukhozi FM and SAfm whenever she can.
Recalling the first time she appeared on an international stage at the La Scala Opera House in Italy, she says: “I made my debut at 25 in a leading role as Elvira.
“I was so amazed how much I felt at home on that stage and how everyone else was so worried and nervous for me, and none of them knew how ready I was.
“Afterwards I recall knowing that I am following in the footsteps of many legendary and historical international opera stars, from Maria Callas to Luciano Pavarotti.
“And I was living a dream as most of the singers at the time had not even made their debut at the great historical Italian opera house,” she adds.
When she is not on stage, the soprano spends her time filling up her spiritual reservoir for her audiences around the world.
“I rest a lot. I love quiet times where I just listen to sermons as a born-again Christian, and I have to refill my spirit.
“The performing career that I have the privilege to take part in is a very spiritual one.
“You can’t touch it, you can’t see it, and yet it is able to touch and communicate from soul to soul and transport you to a place of emotional ecstasy.”
Yende is fully booked for the next two years, but she yearns to have her own children soon.
“I am looking forward to be a mother one day,” she says.