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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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: