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Pretty Yende

Pretty Yende wins Operalia 2011

There was tremendous joy, pride and excitement as South African Soprano Pretty Yende took first prize in the Female Section of most prestigious singing competition in the world, the “Operalia World Opera Competition”. Miss Yende – a former graduate of the Opera School of the South African College of Music where she studied under Prof. […]

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Operalia-2011

There was tremendous joy, pride and excitement as South African Soprano Pretty Yende took first prize in the Female Section of most prestigious singing competition in the world, the “Operalia World Opera Competition”. Miss Yende – a former graduate of the Opera School of the South African College of Music where she studied under Prof. Virgina Davids – currently resides in Milan, Italy, where she recently made her debut and completed her first year as member of the La Scala Opera Studio.

The nineteenth edition of the Operalia International Competition took place in Moscow from 18th to 24th of July 2011. Plácido Domingo, artistic director and chairman of the jury (although non-voting member), conducted the orchestra that accompanied the thirteen candidates.

This year again almost a thousand candidate submitted their applications to participate in one of the greatest international vocal competitions. Forty contestants were selected to compete during the quarter and semi finals. On Sunday, July 24, only the thirteen best candidates were on stage for the final round. Past winners included Erwin Schrott and Rolando Villazon.

Miss Yende won $30 000 First Prize for Best Female Singer, and shared first prize $10 000 int he Zarzuela Prize Category. She also won the Audience Favourite Prize (and a Rolex watch). American tenor René Barbera won the Best Male Singer prize.

Rounding out the list of winners were soprano Olga Busuioc of Moldova and baritone Konstantin Shushakov of Russia, who won second prize; and tenor Jaesig Lee of South Korea and soprano Olga Pudova of Russia, who won third prize.

During Sunday’s ceremony, Domingo received the Russian Order of Friendship for his work in cultural exchange.

Pretty Yende – whose most recent international achievements include first prize in Paris at the International Bel-Canto Competition Vincenzo Bellini – is much admired and loved by all of us who have worked with her in her homeland and watch the development of her career and artistry with pleasure. In fact, many South Africans watched the medici.tv live broadcast and there were many tears and ulutations when the results were announced.

Below is a video-clip of her final round performance in Moscow. The orchestra is conducted by Maestro Domingo.

 

Domingo himself said of the competition:

“My purpose in Operalia is to help identify not only the best voices, but also to discover those singers whose personalities, characters and powers of interpretation show that they have the potential to become complete artists. Individuals such as these become tomorrow’s stars. This is why the jury is not exclusively made up of great singers, but also includes general managers, stage directors and casting directors. The importance of the international jury of each Operalia competition has helped to create the necessary stir and has usually led to important engagements for these artists.”

René Barbera, Placido Domingo and Pretty Yende

Pretty Yende and mentor Montserat Caballe

We love you Pretty, and wish you only the greatest joy and success.

Find more Videos of Pretty Yende HERE

Find more Pictures of Pretty Yende HERE

Find more information on the Operalia Competition HERE

Find Norman Lebrecht’s article about the financial difficulty of the orchestral musicians who accompanied the singers in this competition HERE.


Albert Combrink: 2010 Musical Highlights

I am blessed to work with really gifted artists in a variety of fields. Here is a brief reflection on some of the highlights of 2010.

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That precious time between Christmas and New Year provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year’s activities and prioritise for the new year. 2010 was a very busy year, filled with many wonderful musical activities. 97 gigs and concerts kept me on my toes in between stints teaching at various schools, training choirs, coaching singers, and generally living my life addicted to music. Here are just some of the highest high-lights of my 2010:

Learning the Gamelan in Bali
This was one of the highlights of my life. I fell in love with Bali. I made sure I found myself a Gamelan teacher and got some first-hand experience of this magnificent and mysterious music. I found my Western training more of a hindrance than an asset. It was simply a life-changing experience. READ MORE.

Washing in the Temple of the Holy Water: Ubud

UCT Graduate School of Business: Business Acumen for Artists
I am very proud to have received my Diploma form the UCT GSB for a fantastic course in business skills specifically designed for Artists. Learning lessons in clarifying the financial side of this art we love so much, was exactly what I needed at this point in my career. A very worth-while experience.

Pretty Yende and Friends: Cape Town City Hall
Having the chance to perform with Pretty Yende and a team of superb singers to mark the 10th anniversary of Winemaking at Diemersfontein and the establishing of a scholarship for young artists, was wonderful. Pretty was on a winning streak when she arrived from La Scala, and has been ever since, clinching a series of first prizes at international singing competitions. Luthando Qave, a young baritone overlooked locally even for understudy roles, is now at the Metropolitan Opera. What a pleasure to see young talent flower. And what a magnificent programme it was. READ MORE

Kleinmond Big Blue(s) Festival: Blues in the Night
I am proud that I have been successful in Jazz and other popular music genres, coming as I do from a classical back-ground. Louise Howlett and I were delighted to share the outdoor stage with the likes of the Boulevard Blues Band and Anton Goosen and pulled it off with the audience. We provided a quieter and more intimate Blues vibe than the big loud rock bands, and the audience response was tremendous. READ MORE.

Launching the CD “Night Sessions” with Louise Howlett
Working Louise is one of the great pleasures of my life. The CD was a natural product of all our performances and the natural rapport we have on- and off-stage. We went into the studio with the idea of creating a multi-genre disc including opera and musicals – as is Louise’s trademark in concert. But guided by Duncan MacKay, we went into a “Night Sessions” zone with a delicious creative energy. Named by Radio 2000’s Erica Alan as one of the 20 Top South African Jazz Releases of the year, also felt great. I also wrote a song for especially for Louise to sing: A place inside. I usually keep my compositions private or for liturgical use, so it was a bold step to pass something so personal to a fellow performer, let alone to an audience. And to my delight, audiences loved the song. Another favourite was our version of Besame Mucho. These two songs have already been recorded and lie in waiting for the next project. Louise & I performed with Mark Hoeben and Ina Wichterich at Suikerbossie Restaurant, combining songs as varied as Besame Mucho and Rusalka’s Song to the Moon with Tango dancing. Real Tango is improvised, and Louise and I work within an improvisatory framework. So combining the two seemed a logical step. It was a brave experiment made in a headstrong creative spurt of self-expression – and what a delightful afternoon of on-the-fly creativity!  READ MORE.

Dancing with Angels: Abrazos – Singapore
Performing in Singapore during the Arts Festival was awesome. Working with Tango dancers and musicians from a different culture was a stimulating challenge. Workshops and master-classes culminating in public performances was a superb experience. Having the chance to work with Singaporean singers was also a new experience. I was touched by how my musical knowledge and expertise was sought out, respected and valued. And proving that Chopin and Piazzolla can be good bedfellows, was a boost. READ MORE.

Launching the CD “Tango Club” with the CT Tango Ensemble
My relationship with Tango is now over a decade old and is one of the biggest pleasures of my performing life. We released our second CD Tango Club at a magnificent evening in the packed out Baxter Concert Hall. Blending a traditional Concert Hall with a traditional Tango Salon, with dancers on the stage, proved a big hit with audiences and pushed us to one of our best public performances yet. The support of the Cape Town Tango community has been tremendous and with the inclusion of classical guitarist James Grace and Jazz musicians Willy van Zyl and Kevin Gibson, we have extended our musical range beyond the traditional and the “nuevo”. READ MORE.

Orchestral Piano with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra
For many pianists the job of orchestral pianist is not particularly appealing or glamorous. I love it. To be part of such a big powerful engine, sit right in the middle of it, and study works that as an accompanist or soloist I would have no contact with, is a delight. Highlights included Prokofiev’s 5th Symphony under Arjan Tien and a CD recording of Barber and Korngold Violin Concertos with Alexander Gilman conducted by Perry So, for the Sony Classics Label. I particularly enjoy working with the orchestra as it puts my work with opera conductors into perspective. In the preparation for an opera I could spend up to six weeks in a one-on-one situation with a conductor, where in an orchestra one has the protection- and of course added scrutiny – of 70 or 80 pairs of eyes. I have been blessed to have worked with delightful conductors. Perry So in particular had a wonderfully expressive conducting style and I enjoyed the constant eye-contact and affirmation he gave.

Many other highlights include the Opera in a Convent Garden which sold over 1500 tickets as a Rotary Fundraiser. The Temple Israel Quintet performed all the music for the High Holidays, and always Beverley Chiat’s singing is sheer pleasure. TC Kemane – a black baritone with a perfect Hebrew accent – astonishes the congregation every time. His Kol Nidrei is something to hear. The VoorkamerFest in Darling and the End-of-year Tango Salon @ 6 Spinstreet with TangoCapeTown were exciting and successful events. Shirley Sutherland and I perform at various events, including an ongoing schools music project.

There are many others I could mention

THANK YOU to everyone who came to my/our shows this year, bought tickets, sold tickets, bought CDs, booked me/us and in general helped to make this an incredible end to the first decade of the 21st century!

Pretty Yende: Videoclips of South Africa’s young star soprano

Televised video footage of Pretty Yende performing at the Stellenbosch Oude Libertas Theatre, with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Chris Dowdeswell, 19 December 2009.

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Dear Pretty: We love you and wish you only the best and will follow every note you sing with anticipation and delight.

All of us who have worked with Pretty Yende or seen her in performances since her early student days, are simply thrilled at the successes she has achieved internationally. She is the perfect role-model for young artists – dreams really can come true if you have the talent, drive and persistence. And Pretty Yende is one of the hardest workers I know. Having had the pleasure of performing with her and also being repetiteur in some of her productions for Cape Town Opera, I can only report sheer pleasure in dealing with her. She is the ultimate professional. The glorious instrument, the sincere stage-personality and above all the dogged determination to “get it right”, is an inspiration – and was even then, in her undergraduate years – to fellow artists and students.

Tribute must also be made to the musical guidance she received from her mentors in South Africa, in particular Prof. Angelo Gobbato and the lecturers and coaches from the UCT Opera School. We also fondly remember the late Mr. Colin Howard, a loved and respected coach with whom miss Yende worked for a number of years. Her voice teacher was Prof. Virginia Davids.

Conductor Chris Dowdeswell

The video footage below is taken from a televised Gala Concert at Stellenbosch’s Oude Libertas Theater, 19 December 2009. The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Chris Dowdesewell.

Please support the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. Their commitment to quality music-making is a beacon in the South African cultural landscape, giving young artists such as these valuable training and experience in the performing arts. You can find their website HERE.

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Mesícku na nebi hlubokém (O silver moon) from Rusalka by Antonin Dvořák, (1841-1904)

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Ah! Je Veux Vivre’ (Juliet’s Waltz song) from Roméo Et Juliette by
Charles Gounod (1818-1893)

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Meine Lippen, Sie Küssen So Heiss from Giuditta by  Franz Lehár (1870-1948)

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Care compagne… Come per me sereno… Sovra il sen
from La Sonnambula by Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)

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Csárdás
(Klänge Der Heimat) from Der Fledermaus by Johann Strauss Jr. (1825-1899)

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Mercé, dilette amiche (Bolero)
from I Vespri Siciliani by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Read more about the Pretty Yende Gala Concert with the CPO HERE.

Some of these items were performed with Piano Accompaniment (Albert Combrink on Piano) at the Pretty Yende and Friends Opera Gala Concert in the Cape Town City Hall, in August 2010.

Here is Amateur video footage of her prize-winning performance at the Leyla Gencer Singing Competition in Istanbul, Turkey”.

Pretty Yende singing “Suis je gentile ainsi” from “Manon” by Massenet.:

 

Pretty Yende was the winner of the 2011 Operalia Competition. She competed in Moscow under the baton of Maestro Placido Domingo, who is patron of the competition. Miss Yende won First Prize (Best Females Singer), joint First Prize in the Zarzuela Category, and the Audience Favourite Prize. Here is her final round performance in Moscow on 22 July 2011. The orchestra is conducted by Maestro Placido Domingo, patron of the competition.

 

Pretty Yende Gala Concert: Photos

Photos from the “Pretty Yende & Friends Opera Gala Concert” and Tenth Anniversay Gala 2010 hosted by Diemersfontein Wines. Pretty Yende, Albert Combrink, Luthando Qave, Given Nkosi, and July Zuma, Elizabeth Frandsen.

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Photos from the Diemersfontein Wines 10th Anniversary celebrations 2010.

Pretty Yende was the winner of the 2011 Operalia Competition. She competed in Moscow under the baton of Maestro Placido Domingo, who is patron of the competition. Miss Yende won First Prize (Best Females Singer), joint First Prize in the Zarzuela Category, and the Audience Favourite Prize.

“Pretty Yende and Friends – a Gala Opera Evening” in the Cape Town City Hall – 11 August 2010 – was followed by a prestige celebration dinner and concert at the Diemersfontein Wine Estate on 13 August 2010. The concerts not only celebrated miss Yende’s recent international successes as well as Diemersfontein’s first decade of successful wine making. The concert represented much more than that. Young artists such as presented in this concert, and not only miss Yende, are the success stories of South Africa. It was a huge amount of work to prepare the concert. But it was also a tribute to the long hours of slog by the stalwarts of opera such as Prof. Virginia Davids and Prof. Angelo Gobbato of the UCT Opera School. The work of many other singing teachers and coaches was represented on that stage, supported by a host of named and unnamed supporters, benefactors and projectors of love and good will. We all have our eye on these artists and watch their careers with pride, anticipation and love.

When I saw the YouTube clip of the tumultuous ovation Pretty Yende received for her debut at La Scala, I just cried with happiness, love and pride. I have such respect for the young artists who keep working and fighting to overcome the many obstacles in their way, often from inside the music industry players themselves, who should feel mandated to support their own. The concert pointed to the wealth of talent in South Africa. And it pointed out the flaws in the fantasy of the “Talented African Singers” who just have natural ability. These artists WORK. They study and take lessons and have coaching. This all takes money. And with all the talent in the world, without the finances to make it happen, it can remain untapped.

Watch Pretty Yende – accompanied by the Cape Philharmonic orhestra conducted by Chris Dowdeswell – sing the Song to the Moon from the opera Rusalka by Antonin Dvorak:

Thank you to Sue and David Sonnenberg for their passion and the vision of this event. Their ongoing support to young artists has opened doors which might have remained shut. There’s a saying in Israel: Im tirtzu ein so agada If you will it, it is no dream. And we will this. And these dreams are coming true.

Read a full review of the Gala Concert by Deon Irish, published in the Cape Town Argus HERE.

Pretty Yende & David Sonnenberg

Luthando Qave & Albert Combrink

Susan Sonnenberg, whose passion for opera and admiration for Pretty Yende created the entire vision for this week-long celebration

Given Nkosi, Pretty Yende & July Zuma

Albert Combrink

July Zuma, shortly before his return to his opera studies in Barcelona.

Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Frandsen

Albert Combrink (Piano) & Given Nkosi (Tenor): Cape Town City Hall

Pianist Albert Combrink & Soprano Pretty Yende - Cape Town City Hall

Cellist Sarah Acres & Pianist Albert Combrink: Cape Town City Hall

Diemersfontein Wines 10th Anniversary Concert and Dinner: Given Nkosi (tenor), Luthando Qave (baritone), Pretty Yende (soprano), Albert Combrink (piano), July Zuma (tenor)

Diemersfontein Wines 10th Anniversary Concert: July Zuma, Albert Combrink, Luthando Qave, Brett Rightford, Pretty Yende, Francoise Roode, Susan Sonnenberg, David Sonnenberg, Deidre Taylor, Rene May, Given Nkosi, Denise Stubbs

Here you can see an operetta extract: Pretty Yende – accompanied by the Cape Philharmonic orhestra conducted by Chris Dowdeswell – performs the aria Meine Lippen by Franz Lehar from the Operetta Giuditta:

Great applause from the La Scala audience for Miss Yende’s debut. She performed the music from her planned debut at the concerts in South Africa.

See more Youtube clips of Miss Yende and read an interesting perspective on South African singers at Jean Ronald LaFond’s blogsite

Kashu-do (歌手道): The Way of the Singer

Pretty Yende & Friends Gala Concert: Cape Town City Hall – Photos

The Pretty Yende & Friends Opera Gala Concert presented by Diemersfontein Wines to raise funds for the Excelence in Africa Trust, held in a sold-out Cape Town City Hall on 11 August 2010 was an enormous success. A large sum of money was raised to boost the scholarship fund for young South African artists on the verge of international careers.

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Pianist Albert Combrink & Soprano Pretty Yende - Cape Town City Hall

Pretty Yende was the winner of the 2011 Operalia Competition. She competed in Moscow under the baton of Maestro Placido Domingo, who is patron of the competition. Miss Yende won First Prize (Best Females Singer), joint First Prize in the Zarzuela Category, and the Audience Favourite Prize.

The Pretty Yende & Friends Opera Gala Concert presented by Diemersfontein Wines to raise funds for the Excelence in Africa Trust, held in a sold-out Cape Town City Hall on 11 August 2010 was an enormous success. A large sum of money was raised to boost the scholarship fund for young South African artists on the verge of international careers.

The programme was a public and critical success. The Cape Times reviewer Deon Irish reported”

Her voice is still the utterly lovely thing we all know; but fuller, richer and now invested with a heightened technical control that makes the vocal product utterly beguiling.”

Cellist Sarah Acres & Pianist Albert Combrink: Cape Town City Hall

Deon Irish: “Sarah Acres provided welcome cello interludes and Albert Combrink, onstage throughout, underscored the value of a good accompanist with playing that was consistently stylish and supportive.”

 

Albert Combrink (Piano) & Given Nkosi (Tenor): Cape Town City Hall

Diemersfontein Wines 10th Anniversary Concert and Dinner: Given Nkosi (tenor), Luthando Qave (baritone), Pretty Yende (soprano), Albert Combrink (piano), July Zuma (tenor)

Baritone Luthando Qave

Luthando Qave – en route to his new life in New York as member of the Metropolitan Oper’as Young Artist’s Programme, proved a huge hit with the Cape Town audiences who were blown away by his delightful personality and thrilling renditions of arias such as Figaros’ Largo al Factotum, from Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Seviglia.

Given Nkosi gave polished performances throughout and his Che gelida manina from Puccini’s La Boheme was particularly touching.

Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Frandsen

Elizabeth Frandsen gave powerful performances such as an aria from Rossini’s Tancredi but brought the house down with her delivery of Amour, viens aider from Saint-Saens’ Samson et Dalila.

Diemersfontein Wines 10th Anniversary Concert: July Zuma, Albert Combrink, Luthando Qave, Brett Rightford, Pretty Yende, Francoise Roode, Susan Sonnenberg, David Sonnenberg, Deidre Taylor, Rene May, Given Nkosi, Denise Stubbs

On the programme was Miss Yende’s rendition of Bianca’s Recitative and Aria Voi la Sposa from Rossini’s L’occasione fa il ladro, in which she would be making her debut at the world famous Opera House La Scala, Milan just a few weeks later. (See Video clip below).This production is directed by no less an operatic superstar than Jean Pierre Ponnelle. Miss Yende’s return to Cape Town was amid a buzz of excitement as she had just won joint first prize in the Savonnlina Opera Competition in Finnland. Yet, shortly after the Diemersfontein concert, she flew off to Istanbul, where she won yet another first prize in an international singing competition. She came in first among the nine finalists of the 6h Leyla Gencer Voice Competition in Istanbul, Turkey, enchanting audiences in a splendid closing gala at Istanbul’s Aya Irini Museum.


Soprano Pretty Yende singing her way to the First Prize in the International Leyla Gencer Singing Competition in Instanbul, Turkey

"Uit volle bors": Pretty Yende giving it all she's got. That's why we love her.

Watch a video clip of the Duet of Parmenione (Natale De Carolis) & Berenice (Pretty Yende) from her 2010 Debut at La Scala Milan in the role of Berenice in Rossini’s

L’occasione fa il ladro

Valeria Tornatore, Daniele Rustoni, Pretty Yende

The Gala Concert also included an extract form Verdi’s opera I Vespri Siciliani with Albert Combrink as the accompanist. Here is a video of Pretty Yende- accompanied by the Cape Philharmonic orhestra conducted by Chris Dowdeswell – singing the famous Bolero from this opera:

Pretty Yende wins Finland’s Savonnlina International Singing Competition

Pretty Yende – South Africa’s singing sensation – has grabbed international Arts headlines again. She won joint first prize with American tenor Michelle Angelini at the Savonnlina International Singing Competition in Finland On Sunday 25 July 2010. She will be performing in the Cape Town City Hall on August 11 2010.

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Pretty Yende and Andrea Boccelli performing at the SA FIFA 2010 World Cup Closing Ceremony
Pretty at Belvedere
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Prizewinning Soprano Pretty Yende

Pretty Yende – South Africa’s singing sensation – has grabbed international Arts headlines again. She won joint first prize with American tenor Michelle Angelini at the Savonnlina International Singing Competition.  The Savonnlina Opera Festival in Finland holds an International Singing Competition in conjunction with its annual Opera Festival, attracting visitors from across the globe.

The panel reads like a Who’s Who of the international opera world. The judges were:

JARI HÄMÄLÄINEN – Artistic Director, Savonlinna Opera Festival

ELAINE PADMORE – Director of the Royal Opera

VINCENZO DE VIVO – Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova

JONATHAN FRIEND – Artistic Administrator, Metropolitan Opera

BRUNO MICHEL – Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris

ANDRÉS RODRÍGUEZ – General Director and Artistic Director, Teatro Municipal de Santiago.

The judges decided to combine the cash awards of the first two prizes, and to award them equally to the two singers.

Pretty Yende and superstar Andrea Boccelli performing at the South African FIFA 2010 World Cup Closing Ceremony

South African audiences will be able to hear Pretty “on form”, as it were, as she will be performing in Cape Town on 11 August 2010 in “Pretty Yende and Friends – a Fundraising Opera Gala” in which she is generously helping to support the “Excellence out of Africa” bursary trust which supports help artists on the cusp of international careers. I her Cape Town concert she will be performing some of the works she sang in the competition, treating South African audiences to a “Musical World Cup” Quality performance.

You can read more about “Pretty Yende and Friends – a Fundraiser Gala” HERE.

“Pretty Yende and Friends” – a Fundraiser Opera Gala

Venue: Cape Town City Hall

Date: Wednesday 11 August 2010

Time: 19h00

Ticket Prices: R80 – R250

Exclusive Corporate Packages: avaliable on request through marketing@thokozani.co.za

Pretty as we have grown to love her: smiling and happy after having given her best on stage, winning the Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna

Hear South Africa’s top operatic talent in a concert to raise funds for the next generation’s stars. Pretty Yende – on a brief return from La Scala Milan, and Luthando Qave – en route from Sweden to take up a position at New York’s Metropolitan Opera– are joined by  Elizabeth Frandsen and Given Nkosi, Cellist Sarah Acres, and Pianist Albert Combrink, in a Gala Concert to raise funds for the Diemersfontein “Excellence out of Africa” Bursary Trust. Pretty Yende recently performed with superstars Andrea Bocelli and Bryan Adams in the FIFA 2010 World Cup Closing Concert and Luthando Qave was a finalist in the Belvedere International Singing competition. Given Nkosi and Elisabeth Frandsen have been seen in many lead roles in Cape Town and abroad. Cellist Sarah Acres adds an unusual touch to a vocal evening. The concert is devised and presented by Albert Combrink.  The evening promises world-class singing with artists who have already made their mark internationally.

Cast:
Pretty Yende (Soprano)
Elizabeth Frandsen (Mezzo-Soprano)
Given Nkosi (Tenor)
Luthando Qave ( Baritone)
July Zuma (Tenor)
Sarah Acres (Cello)

Albert Combrink (Piano)

Proceeds of the evening will go to the “Excellence out of Africa Trust” to raise funds for gifted South African musicians and artists – assisting them to show South Africa’s talent to the world.

Bookings: now open at  www.computicket.com

On the programme will be an extract from Bellini’s Opera La Sonnambula. Here is a video of Pretty Yende- accompanied by the Cape Philharmonic orhestra conducted by Chris Dowdeswell – singing the aria Care Compagne from Bellini’s masterpiece.

Pretty Yende and Friends – Cape Town City Hall Wed 11 August 2010

Hear South Africa’s top operatic talent in a concert to raise funds for the next generation’s stars. Pretty Yende – on a brief return from La Scala Milan, and Luthando Qave – en route to New York’s Metropolitan Opera – are joined by Elizabeth Frandsen and Given Nkosi, Cellist Sarah Acres, and Pianist Albert Combrink, in a Gala Concert to raise funds for the Diemersfontein “Excellence out of Africa” Bursary Trust. Pretty Yende recently performed with superstars Andrea Bocelli and Bryan Adams in the FIFA 2010 World Cup Closing Concert.

Luthando Qave
Elizabeth Frandsen
Given Nkosii
Pretty
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July Zuma
Sarah Acres, Cello

Pretty Yende was winner of the 2011 Operalia Singing Competition where she competed in Moscow. The orchestra was conducted by Placido Domingo.

 

“Pretty Yende and Friends” – a Fundraiser Opera Gala

Venue: Cape Town City Hall

Date: Wednesday 11 August 2010

Time: 19h00

Ticket Prices: R80 – R250

Exclusive Corporate Packages: avaliable on request through marketing@thokozani.co.za

Here is a video of the star performer of the evening, Pretty Yende – accompanied by the Cape Philharmonic orhestra conducted by Chris Dowdeswell – singing Juliet’s delightful waltz song from Gounod’s opera

Roméo et Juliette:

Hear South Africa’s top operatic talent in a concert to raise funds for the next generation’s stars. Pretty Yende – on a brief return from La Scala Milan, and Luthando Qave – en route from Sweden to take up a position at New York’s Metropolitan Opera– are joined by  Elizabeth Frandsen and Given Nkosi, Cellist Sarah Acres, and Pianist Albert Combrink, in a Gala Concert to raise funds for the Diemersfontein “Excellence out of Africa” Bursary Trust. Pretty Yende recently performed with superstars Andrea Bocelli and Bryan Adams in the FIFA 2010 World Cup Closing Concert and Luthando Qave was a finalist in the Belvedere International Singing competition. Given Nkosi and Elisabeth Frandsen have been seen in many lead roles in Cape Town and abroad. Cellist Sarah Acres adds an unusual touch to a vocal evening. The concert is devised and presented by Albert Combrink.  The evening promises world-class singing with artists who have already made their mark internationally.

Cast:
Pretty Yende (Soprano)
Elizabeth Frandsen (Mezzo-Soprano)
Given Nkosi (Tenor)
Luthando Qave ( Baritone)
July Zuma (Tenor)
Sarah Acres (Cello)

Albert Combrink (Piano)

Proceeds of the evening will go to the “Excellence out of Africa Trust” to raise funds for gifted South African musicians and artists – assisting them to show South Africa’s talent to the world.

Bookings: now open at  www.computicket.com

The Programme

Arias and duets are presented from from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Mozarts’ Cosi Fan Tutte, Rossini’s Barber of Seville and many more. The programme is designed to appeal to a broad audience. Familiar operatic favourites share the stage with rarities that will delight opera-buffs.

About the “Excellence out of Africa” Charitable Trust:

The concert is presented by Diemersfontein Wines in Wellington as part of their tenth birthday celebration. Diemersfontein is committed to supporting arts and education in South Africa. The Charitable Trust Excellence Out of Africa, will raise funds for the two projects Diemersfontein runs on the estate. Firstly the Artist’s Sponsorship Programme (Pretty Yende and several others have had benefit concerts at Diemersfontein in the last few years) and Wellington Preparatory School, a private school for children of diverse background. David Sonnenberg, owner of Diemersfontein Wines comments, “These two projects are very close to our hearts – and we are thrilled that Pretty is now “putting something back” into opportunities for other exceptional South African talents to enable them to develop their careers. “There is a growing community of talented young South Africans who are on the cusp of making great strides internationally; or who are already doing so,” David said. “We’ve been lucky enough to host some of them at Diemersfontein by holding benefit concerts to raise funds towards their study or travel.”

About the performers: (Pretty Yende: Bio & CV)

Pretty Yende (Soprano)

La Scala Opera Soprano Pretty Yende

Pretty Yende’s list of accomplishments is rapidly increasing. She recently shared first prize in Finland in the Savonnlina International Singing Competition in front of a distinguished panel of judges which included artistic management from Covent Garden and the Metropolitan.

Yende made international news in 2009 when she won all the major prizes at the Hans Gabor International Singing Competition in the Vienna, Austria, the “city of music”. She went straight on from there to win first prize in the  Montserrat Caballé International Singing Competition in Zaragoza, Spain. She is currently in the Opera Studio of La Scala in Milan, an opera house with a dazzling history. Here her mentor is the great soprano Mirella Freni. She won her first Solo Voice competition at the 2002 Tirisano School Choral Eisteddfod  and has not looked back. From her hometown, Piet Retief in Mpumulanga, she moved to Cape Town where she completed, with distinction, a Performer’s Diploma in Opera at UCT, and continued her post graduate studies under the guidance of Virginia Davids.  Master Classes she has attended include: Raina Kabaivanska in Bulgaria in Italy with Montserrat Caballé.

Involved during this time in all student productions, she was on the Dean’s list every year.  Her achievements include winning the National Championship for Solo Voice in the Post Office Choral Eisteddfod (2004), the Schock Prize for Singing (2003 & 2004), taking part in the Choir Olympics in Bremen (2007) and winning her first International Competition in Italy (2007) where her reward was the role of La Musica in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (reviewed in the NewYork Times).   She sang at the opening ceremony of the UN Assembly (WHO) in Geneva.   In August 2008 she won two prizes in the 47th ‘s-Hertogenbosch International Competition in Holland.

Pretty Yende won all the major prizes at the Belvedere International Singing Competition

Her opera-experience is already broad including: Helena in Britten’s Midsummer night’s Dream (2005), the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte, Magda in La Rondine , Manon in Manon and Poppea in  L’incoronazione di Poppea .

Internationally, in 2008, she appeared as  Clara in Porgy and Bess in Malmo, Sweden and at the Deutche Oper in Berlin. Pretty was been selected as one of the Top 100 Most Successful Women in South Africa in 2008.

Hear a small televised extract of her singing an aria from Massenet’s opera Manon HERE

Given Nkosi (Tenor)

Tenor Given Nkosi

Given hails from Witbank. He holds a Performers Diploma in Opera (UCT) and is currently being directed in a Post Graduate Performer’s Diploma in Opera by Angelo Gobbato and Virginia Davids,    His competitions and prizes include winning the National Championship of Tirisano School Choir Competition (2001 and 2002), participating in the Artscape Youth Music Festival with the CPO (2004) and the Tirisano Youth Choir at the Choir Olympics in Bremen (2003 and 2004).    In 2005 he won the best male singer award at the National Championship of SAPO  Competition and the Schock Foundation Prize.    He was a semi-finalist  in his first International Compeition as a soloist in Italy in November 2007.    In September 2007, he was invited to take part in a Masterclass given by Raina Kabaivanska in Bulgaria.

He has taken part in productions of Nabucco, Bravo Angelo, Le Damnation de Faust, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Cosi fan Tutte (Ferrando)  La Rondine (Ruggero) and Manon (Des Grieux) at the Artscape Opera House, Baxter and Little Theatres. He is a frequent and much acclaimed guest at a variety of Gala Concerts. His Oratorio repertoire has been built up in New Apostolic Church performances of the Messiah, Solemn Vespers (Mozart), and Elijah (Mendelssohn).    He was voted one of the 100 Successful Men in SA in 2007. He is currently a member of the Cape Town Opera Studio.

Hear Given singing an unusal arrangement of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” HERE.

Elizabeth Frandsen (Mezzo-Soprano)

Mezzo-Soprano Elizabeth Frandsen

Elizabeth is well-known for her work in a variety of fields: Opera, Oratorio, Lieder and Cabaret. She was a member of the International Studio of the Zürich Opera, during which she performed with conductors such as Franz Welser-Möst in operatic roles as wide-ranging as Rossini and Pfitzner. She received Master Classes from Elisabeth Schwartzkopf as well as the teacher (and mother) of Cecilia Bartoli. Most recent performances included the Richard Wagner Society’s Production of Rossini’s La Scala di Seta, the lead role of Sister Helen Préjean in the Cape Town Opera premiêre of Jake Heggie’s Opera Dead Man Walking and in January 2010 Hartmann’s Song of the Four Winds with conductor Thomas Sanderling with the JFO.

She sang the role of Annina in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier for Cape Town Opera under Maestro Sebastian Lang-Lessing and she was then engaged as Chorus Master for the Cape Town Opera production of Lucia di Lammermoor in Oct 2010.

You can Elizabeth’s website – www.elizabethfrandsen.com – and listen to various recordings of her dramatic Mezzo-Soprano voice.

Luthando Qave (Baritone)

Metropolitan Opera Baritone Luthando Qave

Luthando has been studying at the University College of Opera in Stockholm, Sweden, since 2008. During this time he performed a variety of roles including the lead in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and Belcore in Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore”. As member of the Cape Town Opera Chorus form 2005 to 2008 he performed in many productions, including taking the role of Jake in Porgy and Bess, which toured the UK, Germany and Sweden. In 2009 Luthando was a finalist in the prestigious Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition in Gütersloh, Germany. In 2010 he was finalist of the Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition 2010, winning the special prize of the Washington National Opera and the Houston Grand Opera.

He has had Master Class with Lauren Flanigan, Johan Botha, Sussana Eken & Helmut Deutsche. Luthando is on his way to New York City to take up his place at the Metropolitan Opera House, as part of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

You can listen to the following recordings by Luthando Qave:

Ya vas Ljublju – from Thaikovsky’s Pikova Dama.

Largo de la Factotum – from Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Recorded at the finals of the “Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition” in Germany in 2009

Questo amor vergogna mia – from Puccini’s Edgar.

Sarah Acres (Cello)

Cellist Sarah Acres

Born in London, Sarah studied the cello with Michael Evans at the Royal College of Music.  She won several RCM awards including the Ivor James prize for her performance of the first Shostakovich Cello Concerto, and the Helen Just Recital prize, before graduating with a GRSM(Hons) degree and ARCM teaching diploma in 1983.

She free-lanced with many British orchestras before gaining a permanent post with the RTE Symphony Orchestra in Ireland.  In 1985 she came to South Africa to join the Natal Philharmonic orchestra, where she became the co-principal cellist. During this time she made several appearances a soloist with the NPO, made many recordings for the SABC and was a regular performer of chamber music. She has also been member of the RTE Symphony Orchestra in Ireland and the Cape Town Symphony -and Philharmonic Orchestras. She coaches for both the annual Franschhoek Chamber Music Week, and for the South African Amateur Chamber Music Players. She has given Masterclasses in Grahamstown to both school and university pupils.

Sarah is a busy free-lance player and is also actively involved in performing chamber music around the country, including regular appearances in the Concerts 4×2 series of Baroque Music with Professor Shirley Gie.

Albert Combrink (Piano)

Accompanist and presenter Albert Combrink

Albert Combrink performs as pianist and accompanist in classical and contemporary music. He recently returned from touring South-East Asia (Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia) where he performed solo concerts and held masterclasses during the Arts Festivals of Singapore and Bali. Albert completed his MMUS at Natal University and also holds three UNISA Licentiates in Solo Performance, Piano Accompaniment and Piano Teaching (Cum Laude). He made his concerto debut with the Natal Philharmonic at the age of 18.

He was finalist in the National ATKV Music Competition. Other prizes include the UND Performer’s Prize, UND Composer’s Competition, the Young Natal Chamber Music Competition, and the Durban Youth Concerto Festival. He received Master Classes from amongst others, Graham Johnson, Anton Nel, Martini Tirimo, Prof Bernd Goetzke. His recordings include Hindemith’s Piano Concerto Four Temperaments with the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra under David Tidboald, through radio and television broadcasts (including BBC World), works by Hofmeyr and Schnittke with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and was reviewed in the international Gramophone Magazine.

He was repetiteur for the UCT Opera School as well as Cape Town Opera. He was vocal coach for the Portabello company’s Magic Flute which sold out in London’s West End and won the prestigious London Critic’s Olivier Theatre Award. With this company he had the chance to work with BBC’s “The Face of Classical Music”, Charles Hazelwood, and Sir Simon Rattle.

As member of the Cape Town Tango Ensemble he has performed at all the major festivals in the country, with performers and directors such as Mark Hoeben, Ina Wichterich and Marthinus Basson. His work with the CT Tango Ensemble includes two CD’s, El Tango En Africa and Tango Club and has been used on television and in film.

He also co-wrote 3 Arts & Culture Textbooks and Teachers’ Guides for Maskew Miller Longman publications, which have sold more than 100 000 copies.

As concert organiser and accompanist he has worked with a number of South African and international singers, including Prof. Virginia Davids, Hans van Heerden and Virgina Oosthuizen, to name only a few. Highlights with international artists include a concert tour with American soprano Judith Kellock of American and South African Contemporary Art Song. He was also repetiteur for British superstar Lesley Garret on her tour to South Africa.

July Zuma (Tenor)

Tenor July Zuma on a short break from his singing studies in Spain

July Zuma will be a guest in one of the ensemble numbers. He was born and raised in Durban in the township of Kwa-Mashu. He´s currently studying at the Liceu Conservatory in Barcelona (Spain) on a Post Graduate Program in Vocal Studies and Repertoire under Eduardo Gimenéz and Maria Soler. UCT Opera School 2005 graduate. July had several voice teachers during his college years including Anthea Haupt, Juan Burgers, Sally Presant and Marisa Marchio. A formative influence and mentor was the Director of the Opera School, Professor Angelo Gobbato. He took private lessons after graduating from UCT with Colin Leo that led him being accepted to enrol at Liceu Conservatory.

July has studied the following roles: Fenton (Verdi’s Falstaff , Nemorino (Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amor), Des Grieux (Massenet’s Manon), Gastone (Verdi’s La Traviata, Arturo (Donizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoor), First Priest (Mozart’s Die Zaüberflöte), Snout (Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream) and understudied Rinuccio in Puccini´s Gianni Schicchi.

July has performed in numerous UCT and Cape Town Opera productions as a Chorus Member such as Barber of Seville, Figaro, Pearl Fishers, Nabucco, Damnation of Faust, Traviata, Bartered Bride Trovatore, Zauberflöte, Fidelio, Carmen, La Gioconda, Porgy & Bess, Lucia Di Lammermoor, Show Boat (Sweden) 2008

More about Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate

~ Diemersfontein helped set up Thokozani wines in 2007 – a black economic empowerment project launched to help the development of people who have not had access to quality education, training, experience, networks and capital. Diemersfontein owns 40% of the company and is committed to nurturing its staff (who own 30% of Thokozani) and providing the facilities to make high quality wines, as well as owning real estate which forms part of their conference business. For more information please visit: www.thokozani.co.za


~ Diemersfontein is situated in Wellington, 60 km from Cape Town

~ David and Sue Sonnenberg are third-generation owners of the Diemersfontein Estate. The Estate now features a guesthouse, conference centre, weddings, horse riding, Seasons Restaurant and property for sale in the vineyards

~ 50 hectares of vines have been planted in the last ten years. Grapes include Rhone, Bordeaux varietals, Pinotage, Chenin Blanc and Viognier

~ Diemersfontein Pinotage –the original coffee/chocolate Pinotage – has been awarded „Best Red Wine‟ by public vote at the prestigious consumer shows Winex in Cape Town and Johannesburg in both 2008 and 2009

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Here is a video extract of Pretty Yende – accompanied by the Cape Philharmonic orhestra conducted by Chris Dowdeswell – singing the famous Song to the Moon from Antonin Dvorak’s opera Rusalka: