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

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.

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

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 – – 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:

~ 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: