Beautiful Song: Pretty Yende

Listening to the Met’s Trovatore broadcast Saturday, the thing that caught my ear most (next to the impressive Di Luna of Alexey Markov) was an interview with a young soprano from South Africa who will be making her Met debut Thursday in Rossini’s Le comte Ory Pretty Yende.

Everything about her story is remarkable. She didn’t hear a note of opera until 2001, when she heard that British Airways commercial with a bit of the duet from Lakmé. The sound of operatic singing caught her imagination and the next day she asked somebody at her school what it was and how to do it. That started a path that tapped and developed what clearly are remarkable qualities: a pure and beautifully produced soprano voice, musical talent, and determination. What seems to have emerged is a poised, polished performer, one who seems born to do this complicated, unbelievably beautiful thing, sing.

The Met called her about singing the Countess in the Rossini only a couple of weeks ago; she said yes, learned the role in a week! (Telling Margaret Juntwait graciously that learning music has always been easy for her.) There’s no YouTube video of her in Rossini, but here she is (with some miserable pick-up orchestra, sorry) doing the radiant Song to The Moon from Rusalka. If the Met wants to make a lot of opera lovers happy, I think they should ease up on their IP policing attitude just once, and let a clip of her singing En Proie À La Tristesse Thursday find its way to the Web. There are only so many debuts in one opera-going lifetime that are worth remembering. This is likely to be one.

and that music from the British Airways commercial that inspired her.

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