Culture Talk
Pretty Yende

  Interview: Rois & Stubenrauch

South African opera diva Pretty Yende in an exclusive interview with Cercle Diplomatique on passion and love for the artform and the song beyond what eyes see and ears hear.

In the past 10 years you have taken the opera world by storm.

I absolutely feel so happy that all my wildest dreams have come true and continue to come true. I am grateful for the goals met and have since became another level ground for more, as one grows and realizes that the journey of the soul is limitless. And I am grateful to no longer question if I have what it takes to be in this industry or whether I belong. My gift has made way for me and continues to do so. So I have not “made it”, I am making it, living it with immense gratitude and humility and looking forward to what lies ahead for me.

In May you will sing Elvira in “I Puritani” at the Wiener Staatsoper. What is your approach to this character who is torn between love and madness? 

I have had the privilege of performing this role a couple of times, from my debut at the Zurich Opera House to the Met, jumping for an ailing colleague. My approach to every role is that I always try to keep it simple and let the score and libretto be the beginnig of it all. Bellini is truly a composer who connects with my soul every time I sing his glorious melodic lines. And when I come across aspects of a character that are truly unfamiliar, i.e. “the madness”, I decided that I would treat that aspect as an “escape” just keeping faith in what the composer put to paper. The help of the director is an other great way to discuss views and combine ideas to let the character be as authentic as possible.

You are considered an exceptional singer able to enchant the audience. What do you think makes your magic? 

I believe that it is truly the shared passion and love for the artform. Everywhere in the world I've had the privilege to share my gift, that kind of connection has been truly special and very precious. Whenever I sing, there's a song beyond what eyes see and ears hear. It is my very heart that gets to connect with each heart in the presence of that gift and I always feel very privileged to have that precious song beyond the beautiful melodies and stories of the characters I get to embody.

A dream of yours is to appear on the big screen in Hollywood.

I am always excited about “breaking boundaries” for Goodness and I am looking forward to embody characters that have a big impact on teaching and learning as far our human community is concerned. I am seeing how much of an impact my gift has been and continues to be on the operatic global stage and one of my favorite attributes has always been acting, so imediately I aspired to share my gift on the big screen. And it is absolutely about to happen! I am super excited about it and cannot wait to share the good news in due course.

New York, London, Vienna, Naples ... Your career takes you around the globe. Where do you feel at home in this intense life?  

One thing that I always knew since I can remember: I love traveling. I didn't know then that it would be a big part of my life and I'm very grateful for it. I always make or be home wherever I am, and that is a privilege I treasure very dearly.

Pretty Yende
Growing up in in the small town of Piet Retief, a television spot featuring Delibes' flower duet from Lakmé marked South African soprano Pretty Yende‘s life changing introduction to the world of opera. After studying at the Accademia Teatro alla Scala and winning the International Belvedere Singing Competition in 2009, engagements at the world's major opera houses quickly followed. Today, Pretty Yende is one of the defining opera divas of the present.



I Puritani
Opea by Vincenzo Bellini
Pretty Yende - Elvira
Wiener Staatsoper
20., 24., 28.05., 02.06.2022

copyright: rois&stubenrauch | für Cercle Diplomatique 1/2022

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